Yakult Swallows third baseman Shingo Kawabata (31) said Saturday that he will do his best for both himself and his 29-year-old sister, Yuki, who has retired from her career as a player in Japan’s women’s pro baseball league.
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”I’m still not able to get my head around it,” Kawabata said from Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, where he’s working out in the offseason. “It might make things a little lonely. Until now, our parents had split their time between her games and mine, and now they’ll only have my half.”
“It makes me want to do well not just for myself but for her as well.”
Yuki had been with the Japan Women’s Baseball League, now a four-team circuit, since its first season in 2010, and is a three-time batting champion. She did not play last season.
Shingo, the Central League batting champion in 2015, when the Swallows went from worst to first only to lose the Japan Series in five games to the powerhouse SoftBank Hawks. The left-handed hitting master of the art of fouling off pitches until getting a fat one had surgery for a herniated disc last year and was limited to 97 games.
“The only thought on my mind is getting my regular job back,” said Kawabata, who despite his injury played 33 more games at third than any of his teammates.
The Swallows used an NPB-high 11 different third basemen, and the combined OPS of all their starters at third was .715, 11th worst among NPB’s 12 teams with only the Orix Buffaloes’ .668 ranking lower.