Former slugger Takahiro Arai has been hired to manage the Hiroshima Carp, a top executive with the Central League team said Friday.

An affable 45-year-old former first baseman, Arai will take the reins from Shinji Sasaoka who announced Sunday he is stepping down after three seasons without a postseason appearance.

An official announcement is expected in the coming days.

A native of Hiroshima, Arai turned pro with the Carp out of Komazawa University in 1999. He signed with the Hanshin Tigers as a free agent in 2008, and returned to the Carp in 2015 as a free agent after Hanshin released him.

Arai turned back the clock to have one of the best seasons of his career at age 39 in 2016. He was named the CL MVP as the Carp won their first pennant in 25 years. He retired following the 2018 season, during which the Carp won their third straight league title.