Kaneko, Chihiro 金子 千尋 (かねこ・ちひろ)
Orix Buffaloes | #19 | P
Born: 11/07/1983 (age 35)
Height: 180cm
Weight: 77kg
Bats: L
Throws: R
Blood Type: O
Hometown: Niigata
Draft: 2004, Jiyuu
History: 長野商高(甲)-トヨタ自動車
Roster Changes: removed 06/09/2016, added 07/06/2016, removed 07/07/2016, added 07/17/2016

[12/5/2018] Nippon Ham Fighters reach agreement with Chihiro Kaneko

The Nippon Ham Fighters announced that they reached an agreement with Chihiro Kaneko. The Fighters could hold a press conference for Kaneko when he visits Sapporo next week to finalize their agreement.

Source: Nippon Ham 12/4/2018, Daily Sports 12/4/2018, Sports Hochi 12/4/2018, Sponichi 12/4/2018, Sponichi 12/4/2018, Sponichi 12/5/2018, Nikkan Sports 12/4/2018, Nikkan Sports 12/5/2018, Sanspo 12/5/2018

[UPDATE 12/11 @ 6:11pm PST]

The Fighters held a press conference for Kaneko on December 10. He was assigned the uniform number 19. According to media reports, he agreed to a one-year deal worth an estimated 150 million yen plus incentives.

Source: Nippon Ham 12/10/2018Daily Sports 12/10/2018, Tokyo Sports 12/10/2018, Nikkan Sports 12/10/2018, Sponichi 12/10/2018


Chihiro Kaneko 2018 Off-season Updates

Date Updates
12/5/2018 2:03pm – Nippon Ham Fighters reach agreement with Chihiro Kaneko
12/4/2018 10:45am – The Fighters could be close to working out a deal with Kaneko. According to Sponichi, their offer may have been a one-year deal worth about 100 million yen plus a nice performance bonus package. Nikkan Sports 12/4/2018, Sponichi 12/4/2018
12/3/2018 10:55pm – The Fighters have already met Kaneko and made him an offer. Sponichi 12/3/2018, Sanspo 12/3/2018, Sports Hochi 12/3/2018, Nikkan Sports 12/3/2018 … 2:50pm – Kaneko is willing to talk to any team interested in his services (domestic or overseas). Daily Sports 12/3/2018, Sponichi 12/3/2018, Nikkan Sports 12/3/2018
12/2/2018 10:57pm – Kaneko is not hard-set on starting and is apparently open to a role out of the bullpen. Sanspo 12/2/2018, Nikkan Sports 12/2/2018 … 6:58am – The Nippon Ham Fighters are interested. Source: Sanspo 12/1/2018, Chunichi Sports 12/1/2018, Sports Hochi 12/1/2018
11/30/2018 2:21pm – The Chunichi Dragons are interested, but uncertain if they have the space. Sports Hochi 11/30/2018 … The Buffaloes are planning to let Kaneko use their facilities for workouts while he is a free agent. Nikkan Sports 11/30/2018
11/29/2018 2:46am – The Buffaloes received a call from Kaneko on November 28 asking to be released. They are planning to remove him from their list of reserved players at the end of the month. Kaneko will become a free agent on December 2. Source: Daily Sports 11/28/2018, Sports Hochi 11/28/2018, Sponichi 11/28/2018, Nikkan Sports 11/28/2018, Tokyo Sports 11/28/2018, Sanspo 11/28/2018
11/27/2018 10:46am – According to an interview posted by Tokyo Sports, Kaneko is still interested in the MLB. He also clarified that he wanted to experience the MLB, not take it on as a challenge. Tokyo Sports 11/26/2018
11/26/2018 1:34pm – Kaneko is planning to meet the Orix for a fourth time some time in the very near future. He told fans during fan appreciation day on November 25 that he had made a decision and that everyone would soon know how things were going to turn out. Nikkan Sports 11/26/2018, Sponichi 11/26/2018
11/24/2018 10:10am – If Kaneko really does become a free agent, the Rakuten Eagles will probably take a look. Rakuten manager Yosuke Hiraishi was teammates with Kaneko when they played for Toyota (Industrial League). And depending on which report you read, Kaneko has yet to make a decision. Sports Hochi 11/24/2018, Daily Sports 11/24/2018, Daily Sports 11/24/2018, Sponichi 11/24/2018, Nikkan Sports 11/24/2018 … 3:24am – According to Sponichi, Kaneko has opted to become a free agent. Sponichi 11/23/2018
11/22/2018 2:10pm – The Buffaloes are okay with signing Kaneko even if he opts to become a free agent. Kaneko is considering all options that might help him reach his goals as a player during the tail-end of his career. Contract terms (salary, years, incentives) are not the main of his discussions with the team. He does not consider the discussions to be negotiations. He likes the Buffaloes, but is not sure if it is in his or the team’s best interest to stay. As for his free agent option, he did not realize he re-earned this season and never even really considered becoming a free agent until the Buffaloes gave him the choice by cutting his salary by more than the allowed forty percent. Sponichi 11/21/2018, Nikkan Sports 11/21/2018, Nikkan Sports 11/22/2018, Sports Hochi 11/22/2018, Daily Sports 11/22/2018, Sanspo 11/22/2018
11/21/2018 Kaneko met with the Buffaloes on November 20 for a third round of negotiations. His agent spent about an hour talking to Orix officials. The Buffaloes feel negotiations went well, but Kaneko has yet to make a decision. He has two options: accept the Buffaloes’ offer, or become a free agent. If Kaneko accepts the offer, he will become the first player to see his salary drop by 500 million yen. The previous record of 450 was set by Toshiya Sugiuchi in 2015. Daily Sports 11/21/2018, Sponichi 11/21/2018, Nikkan Sports 11/21/2018, Sports Hochi 11/21/2018
11/20/2018 Kaneko’s salary in 2018 may have been 600 million yen and the Buffaloes may be trying to get him to agree to a 500 million yen reduction. The two sides are slated to meet again some time his week. Chunichi Sports 11/20/2018, Daily Sports 11/20/2018, Sanspo 11/20/2018
11/17/2018 The Buffaloes offer to Kaneko might be around 100 million yen, down from the estimated 500 million yen he made this past season. The two sides are expected to meet at least one more time. If Kaneko turns down the offer, he could become a free agent. Sponichi 11/17/2018
11/07/2018 The Buffaloes are not sure what Kaneko wants to do. They also feel like he is being a little cold to them. Tokyo Sports 11/7/2018
11/06/2018 Kaneko could choose the MLB. Sponichi 11/6/2018 … Kaneko met Orix officials on October 5 for the second time this off-season. Nikkan Sports 11/6/2018, Daily Sports 11/6/2018
11/05/2018 The Buffaloes met Kaneko for over two hours on November 5 and discussed his available options. Kaneko has not made it clear what he wants to do yet. They will continue discussions. Tokyo Sports 11/5/2018
10/31/2018 According to Sports Hochi, Kaneko could be looking at a pay cut worth over 200 million yen. Sports Hochi 10/31/2018
10/30/2018 The media learned that Kaneko was offered a significant salary cut. Sanspo 10/30/2018
10/15/2018 Norifumi Nishimura met Kaneko on October 14 and asked him for help next season. Sports Hochi 10/15/2018, Daily Sports 10/15/2018
10/05/2018 Expected to earn second free agent option via injury exception. Planning to consider all options. Sponichi 10/5/2018, Nikkan Sports 10/5/2018, Daily Sports 10/5/2018

[8/14/2018] Chihiro Kaneko taken off active roster

Chihiro Kaneko was slated to get a start against Seibu on August 15, but was taken off active roster today with some tightness that ran from his neck to his back.

Source: Nikkan Sports 8/14/2018, Daily Sports 8/14/2018, Sports Hochi 8/14/2018


[8/24/2017] Chihiro Kaneko leaves start voluntarily

Chihiro Kaneko asked to be removed from last night’s (August 23) game against the Nippon Ham Fighters. He avoided mentioning a specific reason to the media, other than that he felt it was time for him to be replaced. Kaneko also said there should be no problems for his next start.

Source: Daily Sports 8/24/2017, Sponichi 8/24/2017

[UPDATE 8/25 @ 9:31pm]

Kaneko’s problem was apparently some tightness in his right leg. He is not expected to miss his next start.

Source: Sponichi 8/25/2017, Daily Sports 8/25/2017


[5/9/2017] Nihon Seimei MVP of the Month Awards for March/April

Central League


Randy Messenger, Hanshin (Second Time)
5 G, 4-0, 32.1 IP, 1.95 ERA, 37 SO, 7 ER

Messenger picked up his second MVP of the Month Award of his career. He led the league in wins (four) and strikeouts (thirty-seven). He recorded two victories against the Hiroshima Carp and helped keep his team within striking distance of first place. Yomiuri’s Tomoyuki Sugano was also under consideration, but Messenger got the nod because of his four wins and rock-steady performances. He is the first Hanshin player to win the award since Yuta Iwasada in September 2016. He joins Randy Bass (April 1985, June 1986) and Jason Standridge (June 2011, July 2011) as the only foreign pitchers in franchise history to win the award twice (he also won the award in July 2013).


Yohei Oshima, Chunichi (First Time)
26 G, .372 AVG, 42 H, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 5 SB

Oshima got the nod for MVP of the Month for the first time in his career. He played in every game in March/April and led the league in hitting (.372) and hits (forty-two). He recorded forty-one hits in April and became the first player to collect at least forty hits in a month since Soichiro Tateoka connected for forty in August 2015. He also recorded four hits in one game four times. On April 30, he became the 286th player in NPB history to reach the 1,000 hit milestone. Oshima is the first Dragon to win the award since Dayan Viciedo in March/April 2016.

Pacific League


Chihiro Kaneko, Orix (Seventh Time)
5 G, 4-0, 37.0 IP, 1.70 ERA, 2 CG, 1 ShO, 23 SO, 7 ER

Kaneko pitched in five games during March/April and recorded a league-leading two complete games. His four wins and thirty-seven innings were tied for most in the league and his 1.70 ERA was second best. He got off to a slow start by giving up four runs over five innings to Rakuten on opening day, but limited Nippon Ham to two runs over six innings on April 7 and recorded his first win of the season. He tossed a two-hit shutout against Softbank on April 14 and picked up his third win of the season by keeping Nippon Ham to one run over eight innings. He tossed his second complete game of the year on April 26 against Seibu for his fourth win. This is the seventh time he won the award, first since September 2014.


Takahiro Okada, Orix (Second Time)
23 G, .351 AVG, 27 H, 7 HR, 15 RBI

Okada played in all twenty-three games in March/April. He led the league in slugging (.675) and was tied for first in home runs (seven) and total bases (fifty-two). His on base percentage (.485) was good for second, runs scored (eighteen) good for third, and batting average (.351) good for fifth. He safely reached base in seventeen consecutive games, between April 8 and 30, and failed to reach base in only two games. He recorded three hits and three RBI in each game on April 20 against Nippon Ham and April 25 against Seibu. This is the second time he won the award, first since July 2010.

Orix players have now won the award seventy-one times, most in league history. Seibu and Nippon Ham each have seventy. Orix pitchers and hitters have now won the award during the same month ten times, also most in league history.

Source: NPB 5/9/2017


Chihiro Kaneko: Did You Know


Kaneko half-jokingly asked the Orix Buffaloes if they could raise the outfield fences up to about the second floor restaurant during contract negotiations on December 11. Kaneko surrendered a career high twenty-one home runs in 2017.

Source: Sponichi 12/12/2017


Kaneko became the sixth player in franchise history and fifty-third player in NPB history to record 1,500 strikeouts during a game against the Rakuten Eagles at Kyocera Dome on April 10, 2018 (first inning, Carlos Peguero). The milestone strikeout came in 1732.2 innings of work, second fastest for a right-handed pitcher, behind Fumiya Nishiguchi (1729.0 innings of work).

Source: Daily Sports 4/10/2018, Sports Hochi 4/10/2018, Daily Sports 4/10/2018, Sanspo 4/10/2018, Sponichi 4/10/2018



Kaneko does not like to toss bullpen sessions in between starts during the season. He does toss sessions on the day of his starts, but otherwise keeps his throwing to playing catch and long toss.

Source: ZakZak 12/22/2016


December 10 – Kaneko changed the Kanji characters for his name from 金子千尋 to 金子弌大.

Source: Tokyo Sports 12/10/2018, Nikkan Sports 12/10/2018, ZakZak 12/12/2018


[7/18/2016] Chihiro Kaneko leaves start early with lower back tightness

Chihiro Kaneko started a game against the Softbank Hawks at YafuOku Dome today. He started feeling tightness in his lower back while pitching in the fourth inning. He was removed from the game as a precaution after five shutout innings.

Source: Daily Sports 7/18/2016, Sports Hochi 7/18/2016


[7/2/2016] Chihiro Kaneko set to get a start on July 7

Chihiro Kaneko (right shoulder) is scheduled to return to the active roster in time for a start on July 7 against Softbank at Kyocera Dome. After that, he will most likely be taken off the active roster. Junichi Fukura wants to avoid giving Kaneko his next start on only five days of rest and will probably opt to wait until after the All-Star break.

Source: Sponichi 7/2/2016


[6/30/2016] Chihiro Kaneko tosses five shutout innings in rehab start

Chihiro Kaneko (right shoulder) started a Ni-gun rehab game against Chunichi on June 30. He tossed five shutout innings, allowed two hits, threw sixty-one pitches, and topped out at 145km/h. He could return to the active roster in time for a three-game Softbank series that begins on July 5.

Source: Sports Hochi 6/30/2016, Sponichi 6/30/2016


[6/27/2016] Chihiro Kaneko tosses a bullpen session

Chihiro Kaneko (right shoulder) tossed a bullpen session at Kyocera Dome on June 26 and threw seventy-eight pitches, including off-speed pitches. It was his second session since he was taken off the active roster.

Kaneko will pitch in one rehab game at Ni-gun on June 30. Assuming everything is okay, he could return to the active roster in time for a three-game series against Softbank that begins on July 5.

Source: Nikkan Sports 6/27/2016, Sponichi 6/27/2016