The home run king is back.
Hotaka Yamakawa, 32, a member of Japan’s winning World Baseball Classic (WBC) team, has rejoined the Seibu Lions. Japanese media reported that Yamakawa participated in a third-team workout at Seibu’s second baseball stadium on Nov. 31.
For the second day in a row, Yamakawa trained with the younger players for about two hours after the previous day (30th). He warmed up, played catch, fielded, and batted. At the end of the training session, he reportedly paid a courtesy call to the media and left the field without being interviewed.
Yamakawa, Seibu’s center fielder, was suspended after appearing in a game against the Chiba Lotte Marines on May 11. A Japanese weekly newspaper reported that he was under police investigation for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman, sparking outrage from fans. Seibu expunged Yamakawa from the first team roster on May 12. There were also calls for him to be banned from the team.
Yamakawa continued to insist that “it was a woman I knew and there was no coercion.” On May 29, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office
rejoined the team after the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped the sexual assault charges due to insufficient evidence.
On the 31st, the NPB demanded that Seibu take steps to expedite Yamakawa’s reinstatement. The club is unlikely to impose any sanctions, so if he regains his game, he could be back in the first team before the end of the season.
Yamakawa is the league’s leading slugger, having won the home run title three times. He hit 47 in 2018 and 43 in 2019 to win back-to-back Pacific League home run titles. In two years
After being sidelined by injuries for the next two years, Yamakawa bounced back last year. He hit 41 home runs in 129 games and won his third home run title. 안전놀이터
Yamakawa didn’t get much playing time while representing Japan in the WBC. Kazuma Okamoto of the Yomiuri Giants moved from third base to first base, pushing Yamakawa out of the lineup.
His team also struggled to start the season. In 17 games from April to May, he batted 2-for-5 with no home runs and 15 RBIs in 59 at-bats. He has 218 career home runs.
Yamakawa’s team, Seibu, ranks last among the 12 teams in both leagues with a team batting average of 2-for-33. They recently dropped to last place in the Pacific League behind the Nihon Ham Fighters.