Seibu Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji, who steered the Pacific League club to back-to-back pennants in 2018 and 2019, will step down at the end of the season, Daily Sports reported Wednesday morning, after the Lions’ 2-0 loss Tuesday eliminated them from pennant contention.
Tsuji, the story said, apparently decided after the loss, the Lions’ third straight.
His league championships got a huge boost from the development of a quartet of position players: shortstop Sosuke Genda, utility man Shuta Tonosaki, first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa and catcher Tomoya Mori.
Ace pitcher Takayuki Kishi left as a free agent just prior to Tsuji taking over in the 2017 season, and since then the Lions have lost second baseman Hideto Asamura and center fielder Shogo Akiyama to free agency and posted lefty Yusei Kikuchi.
Former major leaguer Kazuo Matsui, currently in his second season as Seibu’s Eastern League farm team manager, is considered to be one strong candidate to get the job for 2022.