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Baseball: Former WBC championship team skipper Hara rejoins Giants

The saga of Japan’s most storied pro baseball team took a new twist on Tuesday, when former Japan manager Tatsunori Hara rejoined the Yomiuri Giants as manager for the third time.

Hara, the skipper of Japan’s second World Baseball Classic championship team, managed Japan’s oldest remaining pro baseball team to seven Central League pennants and three Japan Series championships in two stints — from 2002 to 2003 and again from 2006 to 2015.

«Today, manager Yoshinobu Takahashi officially leaves his post and will become a special advisor to the team,» Giants owner Toshikazu Yamaguchi said at a press conference.

«Tatsunori Hara has today agreed to manage the team on a three-year deal, through the end of the 2021 season.»

The return of the 60-year-old Hara marks the first time the club has brought a manager back for a third stint.

«Mr. Takahashi has given the team a young look,» Hara said. «He has given us a direction forward and I intend to carry on in that direction.»

Three years ago, Takahashi retired in order to manage the team from 2016 after Hara abruptly announced he was quitting in October 2015.

After finishing second, fourth and third over the last three seasons, Takahashi told the club earlier this month that he would not return for 2019. The following day, the Giants asked Hara to resume the post.

«For three years I was unable to meet the expectations of the fans, and that has weighed heavily on me,» Takahashi said.

Hara was inducted into Japan’s baseball Hall of Fame this year. The only other Giants managers to win more pennants are fellow Hall of Famers Tetsuharu Kawakami and Shigeru Mizuhara.

All — Kyodo News+

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