[9/28/2016] Kenta Kurihara to retire

The media learned today that thirty-four-year-old Kenta Kurihara is planning to retire. An official announcement will be made within the next few days.

Kurihara left the Hiroshima Carp last year and found a new home with the Rakuten Eagles after passing a tryout. He vowed to make a comeback, but never got the call. The Eagles like his work ethic and are thinking about offering him a coaching position.

Kurihara was selected by the Hiroshima Carp in the third round of the 1999 draft. He made his first Ichi-gun appearance in his third year in 2002. He became Hiroshima’s clean-up hitter in 2008 and recorded twenty-three home runs, 103 RBI, and a slash line of .332/.389/.515. He made the WBC roster in 2009 as a replacement player for an injured Shuichi Murata.

Kurihara’s career took a downhill slide after right elbow surgery in May 2012. He never fully recovered and played in only twenty-one games in 2012 and twenty-four games in 2013. He thought a change of scenery might be good and asked the Carp for his release after failing to make the active roster two years in a row.

The thirty-four-year-old hit 153 home runs and recorded 586 RBI in 1,026 games. He made the Best Nine in 2011, won three Gold Gloves (2008, 2009, 2011), and picked up three MVP of the Month Awards (July 2006, August 2011, September 2011). He made the All-Star series three times (2007, 2009, 2011).

Source: Daily Sports 9/28/2016, Daily Sports 9/28/2016, Nikkan Sports 9/28/2016, Sponichi 9/28/2016

[UPDATE 9/29 @ 1:27pm]

The Eagles offered Kurihara a job as Ni-gun hitting coach. They are waiting for his decision.

Source: Sports Hochi 9/29/2016

[UPDATE 9/30 @ 2:19am]

The Eagles officially announced on September 29 that Kurihara was retiring. A press conference will be held on October 1.

Source: Rakuten announcement

[UPDATE 10/3 @ 6:09am]

Notes from Kurihara’s press conference:

  • He decided to retire after he failed to make the active roster this year. His hitting problems also factored into the decision.
  • He felt relieved after the decision.
  • Through good times and bad times, he always tried to maintain his focus. He never thought his career would last this long. He is grateful to everyone that supported him over the years.
  • He values all his experiences, from the hard practices he endured when he played for the Carp, to making the WBC roster.
  • He remembers his first hit/home run because it marked the start of his career.
  • He appreciates the opportunity Rakuten gave him and values the things he experienced during his short time in the organization.

Source: Rakuten announcement

[UPDATE 11/23 @ 11:30pm]

The Eagles held a retirement ceremony for Kurihara during Fan Appreciation Day today.

Source: Rakuten 11/23/2016

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