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Latham's 1998 Guide to Japanese Baseball...
Yakult Swallows logoThe Yakult Swallows Home Plate1997 Japan Series Champions
Yakult Swallows Players

Hatsuhiko Tsuji Tsuji (Japanese character)
The Swallows regular second baseman, Hatsuhiko Tsuji came to Yakult in 1996 after being given an ultimatum from the Seibu Lions: either become a coach or be released. Still feeling he had a few good seasons left in him, Tsuji joined the Swallows in 1996 and batted .333 (second highest in the Central League).

After watching Tsuji play against the Swallows in two Japan Series, Yakult manager Katsuya Nomura reportedly told his players to model themselves after him. It was little surprise that the Swallows took a chance on such an old-timer.

Though not much of a power hitter (53 career home runs), the 39-year-old infielder knows how to get on base. A lifetime .276 hitter who draws a diminishing share of walks, Tsuji earned the 1993 Pacific League batting crown with a .310 average.

Despite his age, Tsuji remains a solid defensive second baseman. Flipping the ball directly from his glove to the shortstop has become Tsuji's trademark play, something that has become more popular in Japan recently.

Injuries have take their toll on his career. Reportedly, Tsuji's absences led the Lions to release him. Since 1993, he's missed an average of twenty to thirty games a season, and in 1997 he sat out fifty games.

Batting .262 with a relatively low .315 on base percentage last year, the prognosis the Lions delivered two years ago may be catching up to their departed second baseman. For most of the season, Tsuji shared second base with Katsuyuki Dobashi and Toshifumi Baba.

But Tsuji apparently isn't worrying too much. Though he's played the last two seasons on borrowed time, that's more of an opportunity than he would have had with the Lions.

In most of the blooper programs that were shown in Japanese television in 1997, Tsuji was often seen practicing and goofing around with outfielder Dwayne Hosey. Maybe he's decided that he's going to have some fun in his last few years.

Hatsuhiko Tsuji
# 8
Second Base
Born: 10-24-1958
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 78kg
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Honors:
1993
PL Batting Title
1986, 88-94
Golden Glove
1986, 89, 91-93
Best Nine

Hatsuhiko Tsuji's career statistics:

YR TM G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO AVE
1984 SL 41 91 13 19 5 0 3 10 2 9 13 .209
1985 SL 110 251 45 69 11 4 5 35 27 29 26 .275
1986 SL 130 425 65 126 19 5 7 57 35 36 63 .296
1987 SL 51 125 9 25 5 1 2 9 10 5 21 .200
1988 SL 130 419 45 110 19 1 3 39 13 28 51 .263
1989 SL 130 437 58 133 12 5 3 52 33 33 33 .304
1990 SL 130 421 59 112 17 2 3 39 31 45 38 .266
1991 SL 129 498 61 135 27 2 8 43 16 44 48 .271
1992 SL 123 474 66 135 23 4 6 48 23 59 38 .285
1993 SL 110 429 68 137 26 5 3 31 14 51 37 .319
1994 SL 105 412 63 121 21 1 4 45 9 35 51 .294
1995 SL 107 307 31 73 8 2 2 20 7 45 30 .238
1996 Ys 103 400 59 133 9 2 2 41 9 48 46 .333
1997 Ys 85 279 33 73 10 1 2 18 6 17 37 .262
[14] 1484 4968 675 1401 212 35 53 487 235 484 532 .282

Links: Turning the page . . .

Players: Introducing the Swallows' players.
Starters: Yakult's recycled starting rotation.
Relievers: The Swallows' bullpen.
Catchers: No one can fill Atsuya Furuta's cleats.
Infielders: Yakult's deep and flexible infield.
Outfielders: Three starters and more.
Baywell Internet

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