The Chunichi Dragons on Friday named their former star infielder Kazuyoshi Tatsunami as the new manager of the Central League club, while the Pacific League’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks confirmed second-team manager Hiroshi Fujimoto will be promoted as their new skipper.

The 52-year-old Tatsunami, whose club record 2,480 hits is the eighth-most in NPB, accepted an official offer from the club, which is looking to shore up its lackluster offense after finishing fifth in the CL this year.

Tatsunami, known by fans as “Mr. Dragons,” will hold a press conference later in the day as he replaces Tsuyoshi Yoda, who is stepping down at the end of his three-year contract.

Joining the Dragons as their top draft pick in 1988, Tatsunami was named Rookie of the Year after earning a regular spot in the team. He stayed with the club for his entire career, retiring at the end of the 2009 season.

He served as Japan’s batting coach for the 2013 World Baseball Classic and was named to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.

Tatsunami has worked with Dragons players as a special coach during spring training.

Chunichi will also appoint former Hanshin Tigers player Atsushi Kataoka, Tatsunami’s classmate at PL Gakuen High School in Osaka Prefecture, as its new second-team manager. Former Dragons pitcher Eiji Ochiai is also set to rejoin the club as a coach.

SoftBank, meanwhile, appointed Fujimoto to replace Kimiyasu Kudo, who departed after the club missed the playoffs for the first time in his seven-year tenure.

“I’ll give everything I have to bring the best out of each player,” the 57-year-old Fujimoto said at his press conference.

Fujimoto started his professional career at the Hawks in 1982 and has served as a second- and first-team batting coach among other roles at SoftBank since 2011.

Kudo, 58, guided the Hawks to four straight Japan Series titles through 2020. He led them to the PL pennant in 2015, 2017 and 2020, while the team also reached the Japan Series through playoffs in 2018 and 2019 after finishing the regular season in second place.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.