Tomonori Maeda will be retiring at the end of the season. He made his announcement during a press conference at Mazda Stadium earlier today.
"This year will be the end of a twenty-four year career in baseball. This may not be the best way to put it, but I feel like it has finally come to a close. I feel relieved now that I no longer have to deal things like pressure," Maeda said.
Maeda suffered a fracture in his left ulna when he was hit by a pitch during a game against Yakult at Jingu on April 23. He had been rehabbing ever since, but over time felt his desire wane. It was then that he decided to retire.
A retirement ceremony will take place on October 3 (vs Chunichi at Mazda).
UPDATE @ 9:07pm -
Nikkan Sports has posted portions of his interview:
What were you able to accomplish?
Baseball is all about results. I began my making changes to my everyday life. I have not had a great career, but I was ambitious. I think I was able to hold my own.
You spent your entire career with Hiroshima.
The organization not only help me grow as a player, but also as an individual. They have really been a large part of my life.
Any lasting memories?
A lot the happy memories have faded out, so I cannot think of any off the top of my head, except... The pennant in my second year. I got to play a lot up to the Nippon Series. It was a great experience.
We were able to end a long drought this year. I wish I could have been a part of that.
Any memories about the uniform number one?
I did my best not to embarrass the players [that wore this number before me], but I was always hurt. I do not think I did the uniform justice. I do not see any players the number can be passed on to right now. I would like the organization to give this number a little rest.
Anything you want to say to the fan?
Thank you for supporting such an injury-prone player.
Source: Nikkan Sports 9/27/2013
Daily Sports has also posted portions of the press conference:
You have decided to retire. How do you feel?
This may not be the best way to say this, but I feel like things have finally come to a close. I also feel relieved now that I no longer have to worry about the pressures.
What was the biggest reason?
The reason... I should have retired a long time ago, but each year, I spoke to the owner, going back five years we spoke and he would said things like, "Why not try helping the team by becoming a bat off the bench? There must be a lot of things you can experience." He encouraged me and, while it would be strange to say this, it made me extend my career each year. I stretched it out as long as I could. And that happened to be this year.
What about the timing of your decision?
I had to accept a lot of things after I got hurt. I put together a plan for my recovery and when I was discharged from the hospital, I began my rehab. I figured about two months for my bone to fully heal and [planned my schedule] by working things backward from there. But things did not go smoothly. And I started thinking that I might not make it. That was maybe about a month ago.
What are your future plans?
I will take off the uniform and become an analyst and study baseball, more and more... I would also like to continue improving myself, I would like to improve myself by study baseball.
Source: Daily Sports 9/27/2013
UPDATE @ 10:22pm -
Tickets to Maeda's retirement game/ceremony have sold out.
Source: Sanspo 9/27/2013