Norichika Aoki held a press conference today to announce that he came to terms on a 2011 salary with the Yakult Swallows today.
At 330M yen (up 50M yen from last season) plus incentives, Aoki not only becomes the highest paid Japanese player in Swallows' history (he surpassed the 300M yen high set by Atsuya Furuta in 2004 and 2005), but also the quickest player to 300M yen in Swallows history (Aoki got it in his 8th season, Furuta in his 15th season).
I always end up signing around this time of the year. And with spring camp about a week away, it feels like things are coming together. If you look at my numbers [from last season] I did all right, but we didn't win and [Matt] Murton beat me out in hits. I felt like the season ended with a lot of things unfinished. I want to finish this year with a laugh. I want to finish the year with [the 200+ hits everyone expects me to hit]. I don't have any specific goals, but I do want to hit like crazy (smile). [Other than hitting, I want to focus on] stolen bases. I want to help pull this team by stealing enough bases to perhaps win a title. As a team, I'd like to strive on winning a championship. In order to win, I think we need to keep moving forward and I'd like to do my best. While it is important to work together as a team, I also want to be able to take advantage of situations where one big play might ultimately lead to a team victory.