Endangered Eagles

The Rakuten Eagles’ pennant and playoff hopes were dealt a blow Tuesday when manager/general manager Kazuhisa Ishii revealed left-handed closer Yuki Matsui is no closer to taking the mound than he was on Aug. 25 when he was deactivated due to pain in his right thigh, Daily Sports reported.

The Eagles, who signed former New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka prior to camp, are in fourth place as they seek their first Pacific League pennant since Tanaka’s 2013 MVP season when he went 24-0 and earned the save when they clinched the Japan Series in Game 7 against the Yomiuri Giants.

Asked when Matsui is expected to pitch in a real game, Ishii said, “We still don’t know at all when that will happen. Right now, I think we’re still in a situation where there’s no guarantee he will return this season.”

“If he takes a chance with it and pitches, there is a chance of aggravating it. I don’t want this to be a rush job.”

Matsui has 24 saves with a 0.36 ERA, and the Eagles are 6-9 without him able to pitch in the ninth inning.

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