Tigers ink Kanemoto to deal


Free agent outfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto accepted a four-year, 1.2 billion yen contract offer from the Hanshin Tigers in their second round of negotiations Friday. Kanemoto, who played for the Hiroshima Carp for the last 11 seasons, agreed to terms in an hourlong meeting with manager Senichi Hoshino and club officials in Okayama where the Tigers are holding a training camp.

“Mr. Hoshino said he needs me in his plans to build up the team for next season. I just want to live up to his expectations and give the right answer to his passion,” Kanemoto said.

The 34-year-old joined Hiroshima from Tohoku Fukushi University in 1992 as a fourth-round draft pick and has hit 20 homers or more in the last eight seasons.

In 2000, Kanemoto became only the seventh player in Japanese baseball history to hit .300 with 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in the same year. Hoshino said the deal with the Hiroshima cleanup hitter is “like one dream come true,” adding that he “did not want to let him go” after learning the Tigers was Kanemoto’s first-choice team for a free agent deal. “We lost many games this season because of a lack of clutch hitting. I believe Kanemoto will solve the problem and lift the Tigers higher,” Hoshino said.