Saturday, January 07, 2006

Swallows Hire Furuta as Player-Manager!

The Swallows have hired their battle-hardened catcher, Atsuya Furuta, as 2006 player-manager of the team.

Furuta ended up grabbing this job a bit earlier than many had thought possible. Wakamatsu, the Swallows skipper of several seasons, bowed out at the end of the 2005 campaign. The top management of Yakult decided to pursue Furuta's services early due to the level of respect his teammates have for him, and the way that he has called the shots on the field for many years.

Furuta is perhaps best-known for spearheading the first ever player-led strike in Japanese baseball history toward the end of the 2004 season. He was able to organize all of the players behind a unified front, and together they won some impressive concessions from the owners association.

It was reported that Furuta wasn't going to take the job unless the Yakult front office decided to change some of its habits (ie. laziness). He was able to win promises of increased marketing for the ballclub, and the investment of more time, energy, and money in the recruitment of young players.

While many people are skeptical of the ability of a player-manager to lead a team to the Japan Series, few dispute the argument that Furuta will be able to lead the Swallows to a strong standing in the Central League during the 2006 season.


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