Furuta agrees to become player-manager for Yakult

 
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TOKYO, Oct. 18 (16:12) Kyodo

 
Yakult Swallows catcher Atsuya Furuta came to agreement with his
Central League club Tuesday on a two-year deal that will make him the
first player-manager in 29 years in Japanese professional baseball.

Furuta, 40, reached an agreement with team president Yoshikazu
Tagiku and other top club officials and takes over from Tsutomu
Wakamatsu who stepped down at the end of the season after a
seven-year stint.

''I have decided to accept an offer from the club and become a
player-manager. It's a tough job and not many people can do it, but
I'll give my all to both roles,'' Furuta said.

Katsuya Nomura last served as player-manager in Japanese
baseball when he steered the Nankai Hawks from 1970 to 1977. Nomura
later managed the Swallows and Hanshin Tigers and is currently in
talks with the Rakuten Eagles for the manager's job at the Pacific
League team.

Furuta received the offer from Yakult on Sept. 22 and had since
asked the front office of the Tokyo club to step up efforts to build
up the team and improve marketing operations -- key conditions he
cited for accepting the offer.

Furuta joined Yakult from Ritsumeikan University in 1990 as a
second-round draft pick and soon developed into one of the best
catchers in Japan with solid work behind the plate and with clutch
hitting.

Furuta won the Central League batting title in 1991 and has
helped the Swallows win five league titles and four Japan Series
crowns. He has been named the Most Valuable Player in the league and
the Japan Series twice each while winning 10 Golden Gloves.

In April this year, Furuta became the 32nd player in Japan to
post 2,000 career hits.

On Wednesday, Furuta said he is set to step down as president of
the Japanese baseball players association after eight years in office.

He has shown outstanding leadership as the top figure for the
association and is known for playing a key role in the first-ever
players strike last year in opposition to a move for drastic
realignment of Japanese pro baseball.
 


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