Twins Release Nishioka; Johjima Retires

After winning a batting title in Japan with a .346 average and 206 hits Tsuyoshi Nishioka was posted ($5 million) and signed a three year contract with the Twins for $9 million.  Nishioka released the Twins from being obligated for the last year of his contract and the $250,000 buyout when he had trouble staying healthy and breaking .200 in the major leagues.  You would not see a lot of American players remove a team from their obligation of a large contract.  Nishioka will have options of playing back in Japan if another major league team does not sign him.

Before signing with the Twins the concern with Nishioka was his ability to stay healthy.  He had a history of injuries when playing in Japan.  While he did get injured in the major leagues, even the rare times when he was healthy he did not show the baseball skills that resulted in a Japanese batting title giving the Chibba Lotte Marines the 2010 NPB championship.  It was almost as if an alien had invaded his body.  He couldn’t hit and played poorly on defense.  It was accepted he didn’t have the arm to play short in the major leagues, but he even had difficulty turning the double play while playing second base in the major leagues.

The Hanshin Tigers in the NPB have expressed an interest in signing Nishioka.  A number of Japanese hitters have had success after leaving the major leagues and returning to Japan.  The Tigers hope Nishioka will fit that mold.  They may lose their current shortstop Takashi Toritani to the major leagues in 2013 so they will be needing a shortstop.

One player who had a couple successful years after leaving the Seattle Mariners is catcher Kenji Johjima.  He announced his retirement today from the Hanshin Tigers despite having one year left on his contract.  A knee injury left him unable to play catcher the last couple years.

Kenji played four years for the Seattle Mariners where he hit .268 with 48 homeruns.  He also excused the Mariners from the last two years of his contract.  His first year returning to the NPB with the Hanshin Tigers he played all 144 games, hitting .303 with 28 homeruns and 98 RBIs.  Especially for a catcher that may have taken a toll on his body.  The next two years he combined to play only 62 games, never getting his average above .200 as he struggled with knee injuries.

You can see Johjima’s career stats at http://bis.npb.or.jp/eng/players/31733880.html

His retirement announcement can be found at: http://yakyubaka.com/2012/09/29/hanshin-tigers-kenji-jojima-retirement-press-conference-interview/

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