According two at least two reports, Senichi Hoshino is planning to step down as manager after the season. A press conference is scheduled for later today at 5:00pm.
Hoshino signed a three-year deal before the start of the season, but required surgery in May to treat ossification of the yellow ligament and a lumbar disc herniation. He returned to work on July 25, but with health concerns still an issue, he felt it best to step down.
[UPDATE 9/19 @ 5:51am]
Hoshino's press conference took place at the team offices next to kobo Stadium on Thursday. Team owner Hiroshi Mikitani was in attendance. Mikitani tried to get Hoshino to stay, but was turned down.
Comments from some of the other managers:
Lotte's Tsutomu Ito - I thought he was going to come back next year so I'm surprised. He was really good at keeping the public and private separate. He was very appealing as a person. His background as a pitcher gave him the ability to be patient with pitchers when it came to their usage and development. He was the face of the Pacific League. It makes me a little sad.
Yokohama's Kiyoshi Nakahata - The decision to step down was very Hoshino. I think it's admirable the way he graciously made the decision and then stepped down. Baseball needs Hoshino. I hope he remains involved.
Nippon Ham's Hideki Kuriyama - I'm shocked by the announcement of his resignation. I also want him to take care of himself. He taught me a lot about what is necessary to be a manager.
Source: Sponichi 9/19/2014
Daily Sports posted portions of the press conference:
Thank you to everyone that made it here on such short notice. The direct cause [for my resignation] is the team's performance. I also left the team for about two months and inconvenienced the fans, the players, and the organization. The owner and president told me not to worry about those things and stay on for another year, or however many years I wanted to do. But as a competitor, leaving the team mid-season is unacceptable. That is how I decided.
When did you decide to resign?
When I returned, or rather, when I was in the hospital I felt it was not right. The media coverage about about the fans wanting me back made me happy and I thought about getting back as soon as possible as I did my rehab. But I also felt what happened was not acceptable. It was around there that I secretly made the decision this would my last year.
What did you tell the players?
I had a rough first year that started with the earthquake disaster. I felt pressure to win from my first year, but performance was lacking. Two years later, last year, the desire to bring happiness to the people in the Tohoku region started to manifest itself in the players and their individual performances. And they also gave me the wonderful present of a Nippon Series championship.
In looking back before I accepted this job, team owner [Hiroshi] Mikitani approached me just when I was thinking about how I wanted to return to baseball. That made me really happy. I was ready to go. People around me asked why I was going to a team like that, but this was a manager's dream. I'm grateful to everyone that carried me on their shoulders (provided me with a championship) in my third year.
Do you have a message for the fans in Tohoku?
Lately, I've heard some fans shouting things like, "Hey manager, what the heck are you doing?" I like how things are changing. It used to be the fans would clap even when there were mistakes, but that doesn't help us get stronger. I think that maybe the critical Tohoku fans can now help us grow with their better understanding of baseball. I believe the fans are responsible for helping the players grow to this point.
You're stepping down in the middle of a multi-year deal.
When you're competing, you do it year to year. If you compare last year to this year, it's like the difference between heaven and hell. I personally could not accept our numbers this year after taking everything into consideration.
What will your expectations of this team be moving forward?
There would be no end if I started listing things and there's no such thing as perfection. We are not professionals if we cannot show everyone our fighting spirit. I told the players to be ready, that I will always be an outspoken old man, even when I take the uniform off. I spoke to them about those kinds of things.
Source: Daily Sports 9/18/2014
Sanspo has posted a more detailed account of the press conference here. I will try to translate it later, if I have time.
Hoshino appeared on Nippon TV's news program Zero on Thursday night. Daily Sports posted some of the comments he made during the show:
I did have a little trouble with the decision. I thought next year might be fun with the young players leaving an impression. But I also thought now might be the best time to pass things off with all the interesting young players. A lot went through my mind, but when a team performs like this, it is the manager's responsibility.
Being able to [manage] until this age is just great. I have regrets. There are a lot of things I never got to do and a lot of things I never got to teach. But it's time to let someone else handle things. I struggled with the decision over the last month or so.
Source: Daily Sports 9/18/2014