News and notes on Tomoaki Kanemoto, from September 13:
- The Tigers could hold a retirement game for Kanemoto during the last home game of the season on October 5 (vs Yakult). Another possibility would be later this month on the 29th when the team plays Hiroshima, his former team. Source: Sanspo 9/13/2012
- While there are no plans to hire Kanemoto as a coach for next season, GM Katsuhiro Nakamura told reporters he hoped to see him back on the field as a coach in the near future. Source: Sanspo 9/13/2012
Sanspo is carrying a fairly large portion of the Q&A during the press conference.
What are you feeling right now?
A part feels at ease, but I also feel regret and sadness. It is a mix of different emotions. But, I largely feel at ease.
Why do you feel regret?
There are all kinds of regret, but I feel I should have swung the bat more when I was younger. Or trained harder or practiced harder. Maybe that could have led to better results. There is also my shoulder injury. I did my best to recover and have a good season, but I could not put together the results, so I have that regret. I also feel a little regret because a part of me still would like to play next season.
On looking back at your twenty-one-year career.
Beginning with the last three years, I felt pathetic and sorry for myself. It might be a little strange for me to say that about myself.
What kind of thoughts remain with you?
It really is too bad that I could not win a championship with the Carp. I feel I had a very happy baseball life since coming to the Tigers.
What are you most proud of?
My consecutive plate appearances without a double play streak. I ran as hard as I could to first in order to avoid the double play. Personally, I am more proud of this streak than my everything inning of every game streak.
How did you tell your family?
My kid cried when I told her. I had told her I was going to retire sooner or later. My mother was the first one I told.
What did you mother say?
To start taking care of my body. Just that.
How will you approaching the remainder of the season?
Since hurting my shoulder, I have been nothing more than a distraction for the team, I just want to... <tearing up> It is hard to put into words.
What does baseball mean to Kanemoto?
Not to really copy Nagashima-san, but it is life itself. I started playing baseball when I was ten and seventy-eighty percent was difficult and only about twenty to thirty percent was satisfying. But I chased after that twenty-thirty percent and struggled the remaining seventy-eighty percent. That was my baseball life.
<Separate interview with reporters>
Did you ever feel like quitting before this day?
You have a few hits as a pinch-hitter recently. Did you feel you might be able to continue your career as a pinch-hitter or DH?
Honestly, I was making good contact lately. I did think that. But it was not so much that I did not like pinch-hitter, did not want to pinch-hit, or felt pinch-hitting was not enough. It just was not the issue.
Was it your defense?
I could not make the throws. Like to home plate. I got back to where I could throw about three years ago, but if you were to ask if it ever got back to where it was before I got hurt, then no.
What about playing until you turned fifty?
I have no aspirations for that. It is just something some school president is saying.
Was this a difficult choice?
I want to play, I want to quit, but wait, I still want to play. It was that over and over. I wanted to quit when I could not hit and wanted to play when I was able to hit the ball. It was easy talk. Like when you talk about breaking up with a girl.
When did you tell the other players?
Last night. I wanted to avoid it leaking out to the press as much as possible. When Shuta Tanaka retired, I gave him a book on job hunting. I would now like to receive one from Ryota Arai.
Have you thought about what you will do next?
Not at all.
You teared up during the press conference.
I was not planning on crying. That was not crying. [Tears] just came out.
Did getting dropped down in the batting order factor into your decision?
This year, I was actually hitting pretty well when I was dropped in the order. Still, who would have thought that in 2010 [Takahiro] Arai would take the clean-up spot from me and then Ryota [Arai] this year. It was the most embarrassing thing. I had the Arai brothers pushing for me [to retire]*.
What Tigers moment do you remember the most?
When we were waiting for the first place finish in 2003. I think we were waiting for Yakult or Yokohama. I felt so excited. There is also catching the game-winning ball [in 2005].
On being tied in home runs with Koichi Tabuchi.
I wanted to copy unari-daho (an approach to hitting that Tabuchi taught) and have been practicing to try and get home run 475 with it, but my knees are hurting. I wind and wind... This is a true story.
Which pitcher made the most lasting impression on you?
The most? Maybe Kroon. Kroon was the only one where I wait fastball 100% and still ended up swinging and missing twice in a row. I do not recall [any other cases] where I looked only for a fastball and swung and missed. When I swung and missed twice, I thought thing guy had some serious velocity.
How are you physically?
Since I starting playing in fewer games, I feel great. My knees are hurting from all the twisting though. I want to thank [Toshiyuki] Miura (a coach when he played for Hiroshima), Kazuyoshi [Yamamoto], and [Nobuhiro] Takashiro. They helped create the foundation of my baseball life. I also want to think [Senichi] Hoshino for inviting me to the Tigers. Generally, you do not call on players that were born in Hiroshima and playing for Hiroshima. I lost out to his persistence and while part of me did not want to come, it ended well. I was the highest paid player for four years and then got hurt for three years so that was wash.
* A Sponichi article clarified the quote.
UPDATE @ 12:21pm - Some additional notes:
- The Tigers actually considered naming Kanemoto a player/manager when they were looking into managerial candidates later season. Source: Sponichi 9/13/2012
- There are internal discussions about retiring the number six. However, the number six did belong to other players in the past that made franchise history: Fujita Taira is the only Hanshin lifer that reached the 2,000-hit milestone and wore the number between 1966 and 1984; Masaru Kageura was one of the team's mainstays when the team first began and wore the number between 1936 and 1939 and again in 1943; current manager Yutaka Wada wore the number between 1985 and 2001. Only three other numbers have been retired: ten - Fumio Fujimura, eleven - Minoru Murayama, and twenty-three - Yoshio Yoshida. Source: Sponichi 9/13/2012
- Team president Nobuo Minami spoke to Kanemoto on September 2 and suggested he think about his future. It was basically a suggestion to retire. There was also the possibility that he could either end up being a full-time pinch-hitter or stuck at Ni-gun. Incidentally, Minami's meeting with Kanemoto also coincided with him getting dropped from the starting line-up. Source: Sponichi 9/13/2012, Sponichi 9/13/2012
UPDATE @ 3:33pm - More notes:
- Kanemoto called Akinobu Okada at around 9am on Wednesday. They spoke for about ten minutes. Source: Daily Sports 9/13/2012
- Senichi Hoshino received a call from Kanemoto at around the same time on Wednesday. Source: Daily Sports 9/13/2012
- Hoshino recalled how he called Kanemoto everyday, as if he were a stalker, in order to get him to join the Tigers. Source: Sports Hochi 9/13/2012
- A time limit for later this week was set on the decision. Minami also made sure to tell Kanemoto the team would respect whatever decision he came to. Source: Daily Sports 9/13/2012
- While not directly related to Kanemoto, GM Nakamura thinks the only person that can step in and lead the team next season is the position player's captain, Takashi Toritani. He said Toritani was a player he could not imagine not being on the team next season. Source: Sports Hochi Osaka 9/13/2012