Hiroki Kokubo, formerly the head coach of Japan’s national team Samurai Japan, will take the helm of the SoftBank Hawks’ first team.

“Kokubo will take over as head coach of the first team from the second team,” Japan’s SporNichi Annex reported, citing an announcement from SoftBank. Kokubo will hold his inaugural press conference on March 23.

SoftBank finished the year with 71 wins, three ties, 69 losses, and a winning percentage of 0.5071, finishing just one game behind the Chiba Lotte Marines for third place in Class A (1-3) in the Pacific League. SoftBank’s fall baseball season was all too short, however. The team dropped a pair of games against Chiba Rodeo in the first stage of the Climax Series to close out the season.

The end of the season saw a change to the team, with the departure of head coach Hiroshi Fujimoto. SoftBank bolstered its roster in the offseason with the signings of Kensuke Kondo, the biggest free agent signing of the offseason, and Roberto Osuna, who has risen to the top of the Major League Baseball closing rotation, but the results were not as expected. 토토사이트

According to Japan’s Sportichi Annex, former manager Fujimoto said, “I can say it was tough, but I was able to have a good two years because the players worked hard. It was very difficult to win while going through a generational change,” he said with tears in his eyes. If the team had performed well, he would have been able to extend his contract, but the ending was disappointing and he had to hang up his boots after two years.

With Fujimoto’s contract ending, the most likely candidate for the job was Kokubo, who had been serving as the second team coach. Kokubo is a franchise star who began his professional career in 1993 when he was selected by the Fukuoka Dai-Eh Hawks (now SoftBank) in the second round of the Nippon Professional Baseball Draft, moving on to the Yomiuri Giants and then back to SoftBank.

During his career, Kokubo won three Golden Gloves (second baseman in 1995 and first baseman in 2010 and 2011), three Best Nine selections, including the home run title in 2015 and the RBI title in 2017, and finished his career with 2041 hits, 413 home runs, 1304 RBI, 1091 runs scored, and a .273 OPS of 0.838 in 2057 games.