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Baseball: Japan manager Inaba announces squad for MLB all-star series

Japan manager Atsunori Inaba, left, poses for photos in Tokyo, on Oct. 10, 2018. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan manager Atsunori Inaba announced Wednesday his squad for the upcoming series against Major League Baseball all-stars, with a focus on players able to help Japan win Olympic gold in two years' time.

    Inaba's squad for the six-game series starting Nov. 9 at Tokyo Dome includes several young players such as the DeNA BayStars' left-handed rookie Katsuki Azuma.

    Inaba said the six-game series would be an important test ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

    "We're less than two years away from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics," he said at a press conference. "Our focus is on the players we imagine will be competing for us in 2020."

    "With that in mind, we've called on players we want to test in November, meaning there are some players I would otherwise like to play in this series but have excluded."

    Inaba has also included a handful of veterans such as SoftBank Hawks center fielder Yuki Yanagita, 30, and Rakuten Eagles right-hander Takayuki Kishi, 34.

    The series will comprise three straight games at Tokyo Dome before moving on to a game in Hiroshima on Nov. 13 and two in Nagoya from Nov. 14. Samurai Japan's pitchers and fielders will use Nippon Professional Baseball's official ball, while the visitors will be throwing the ball used in Major League Baseball.

    The squad:

    Pitchers: Takayuki Kishi (Rakuten), Taichi Ishiyama (Yakult), Daichi Osera (Hiroshima), Naoyuki Uwasawa (Nippon Ham), Nao Higashihama (SoftBank), Takahiro Matsunaga (Lotte), Shinsaburo Tawata (Seibu), Yasuaki Yamasaki (DeNA), Katsuki Azuma (DeNA), Yuki Matsui (Rakuten), Haruhiro Hamaguchi (DeNA), Shuta Ishikawa (SoftBank), Shotaro Kasahara (Chunichi), Yuhei Takanashi (Rakuten).

    Catchers: Tomoya Mori (Seibu), Tsubasa Aizawa (Hiroshima), Takuya Kai (SoftBank).

    Infielders: Tetsuto Yamada (Yakult), Kosuke Tanaka (Hiroshima), Ryosuke Kikuchi (Hiroshima), Shuta Tonosaki (Seibu), Sosuke Genda (Seibu), Kazuma Okamoto (Yomiuri), Hotaka Yamakawa (Seibu).

    Outfielders: Kazuki Tanaka (Rakuten), Yuki Yanagita (SoftBank), Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (DeNA), Shogo Akiyama (Seibu).

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