Asao, Uchikawa named CL, PL MVPs

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TOKYO, Dec. 1 (19:21) Kyodo

Chunichi Dragons reliever Takuya Asao was named Most Valuable
Player in the Central League, while Softbank Hawks outfielder Seiichi
Uchikawa took the honors in the Pacific League on Thursday.

Asao, who was not only used in middle relief but also acted as a
closer this season, had a league-high 79 mound appearances and went
7-2 with 10 saves and a sterling 0.41 ERA to help Chunichi win
back-to-back league championships for the first time in club history.

The 27-year-old Asao is the first pitcher who is not a starter
to win the MVP since former closer Kazuhiro Sasaki achieved the feat
with the Yokohama BayStars in 1998.
''I can't believe it. I feel thankful to be chosen. I never
thought I would be able to win this award,'' said Asao. ''This is the
reward I get for making efforts all year as a reliever. I am also
happy that the team could win consecutive titles.''

Uchikawa, who joined Softbank via a free agent deal during the
2010 offseason, batted .338 to become only the second player in
Japanese baseball to win the batting title in both leagues.

The 29-year-old Uchikawa hit 12 home runs and had 74 RBIs to
help lift the Hawks to their second consecutive league title and
first Japan Series victory in eight years.

''Honestly, I am shocked. I cannot express enough the gratitude
I feel toward all the people who supported me on a team that was able
to win the Japan Series,'' Uchikawa said. ''I never thought I would
actually win this award.''

Uchikawa is only the fifth player in the PL and first since
Yutaka Enatsu with the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1981 to win the MVP
award in his first year with a new team.

The MVP is selected by the nation's top baseball writers in a
vote conducted ahead of the Japan Series.

Asao received 170 first-place votes from the 250 votes cast,
while teammate and 18-game winner Kazuki Yoshimi placed second with
70 votes. Uchikawa garnered 120 votes of the 214 for first place.
Rakuten Eagles right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who won 19 games, was
second with 43.

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