Thirty-nine-year-old Kazunari Tsuruoka is planning to retire. He will announce his decision during a press conference later today.
Tsuruoka was selected by Yokohama in the fifth round of the 1995 draft. He was traded to Yomiuri in 2008, exercised his domestic free agent option and returned to Yokohama in 2012, and was sent to Hanshin in 2014 as player compensation for Yasutomo Kubo.
Tsuruoka played in a Ni-gun practice game against Orix at Naruohama on September 28. He made the starting line-up at catcher batting eighth. He went 0-for-2.
Source: Nikkan Sports 9/29/2016, Sponichi 9/29/2016, Daily Sports 9/29/2016
[UPDATE 9/30 @ 5:20am]
The Tigers held a press conference for Tsuruoka at their team office in Nishinomiya on September 29.
Notes from his press conference:
- He feels relieved and realizes that he still loves baseball.
- He feels relieved because there is no more pressure to worry about.
- He still does not feel any sadness, but thinks it will hit him later.
- He started thinking about retirement after he was demoted in September. He decided to retire after the last Ni-gun game of the season.
- When he told his wife he was going to quit this year, she first said she thought he could play longer, but then congratulated him for his twenty-one year professional career.
- He stands by his decision because he feels players should retire when they can no longer contribute at the Ichi-gun level.
- He strongly remembers winning the Nippon Series as a member of the Yomiuri Giants in 2009.
- He enjoyed being a part of the Hanshin-Yomiuri rivalry from both sides.
- He is glad he can retire in a Hanshin uniform. His believes his parents are happy about it as well. He is from Hyogo.
- His hand got swollen when he caught Shintaro Fujinami last year. There were times he was in a lot of pain.
- He wishes he could have won a Nippon Series with the Tigers.
Source: Hanshin announcement, Daily Sports 9/29/2016