Hiroki Kokubo held a press conference after tonight's game against the Chiba Lotte Marines tonight and announced that this will be his last season.
UPDATE @ 11:52pm - Nikkan Sports has posted parts of his press conference.
Your reason for retiring.
There is no one thing. It was a slow progression. The ball was not flying quite as much during batting practice. I could not hit them over even during practice. I experienced those kinds of conflicts.
As of this moment, I can not think of anything I left unfinished over my career. But I do not want to regret not finishing in first place in the fall.
Did Koji Akiyama say anything to you?
He said I could still pinch-hit and even start. He said we should do our best until the very end.
Did you tell your teammates?
I told them after the game. Everyone was surprised and could not react. I told them I wanted to retire after finishing the season in first and getting tossed into the air.
Plans for the rest of the season?
I will give it everything I have and do my best to carry my weight with this team. I want to finish after burning myself completely out. I want to try and [help the team] finish in first for the third straight year.
UPDATE 8/15 @ 5:33pm - Sanspo also posted portions of the press conference.
Who did you report your retirement to?
I informed [Sadaharu] Oh, [Koji] Akiyama, and [Itaru] Kobayashi that I would be retiring after the current season.
When did you decide?
I can not really say. I was a slow progression. When I thought about playing next year, I was already emotionally moving toward retirement.
Is it because you were not starting in as many games?
No. I feel healthy. My stats have dropped this season. I have not been able to hit the ball very far during pre-game batting practice. During games, balls I thought could be home runs ended up getting caught in center. I made my living hitting the ball far so that played a part in the decision. I have no regrets.
What about your teammates?
I did not want to keep it from my teammates. I gathered everyone together after the game and told them. I think they were surprised.
What was Oh's reaction?
When talking to Oh, the tears would not stop. Oh told me about how he had to ultimately decide when to retire. Akiyama asked if I had any regrets. I have made this announcement to retire, but there are still games to play and I want to help the team, even as a pinch-hitter. I want to finish by burning myself completely out.