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Baseball: Nippon Ham's Shinjo to retire at season-end+
[April 18, 2006]

Baseball: Nippon Ham's Shinjo to retire at season-end+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, April 18_(Kyodo) _ In a surprise move by the man who hit a grand slam on his two-homer night, Nippon Ham Fighters outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo said Tuesday he will retire at the end of the season.

"Tonight, I'd like to tell everyone one thing. I've decided to hang up my spikes when the season is over," the 34-year-old Shinjo said after leading Nippon Ham to a 10-4 victory over the Orix Buffaloes at Tokyo Dome with a solo shot in the second inning and a grand slam in the seventh.

He also shocked fans by announcing his scheduled retirement less than a month into the season. Even Nippon Ham manager Trey Hillman was left in the dark until Shinjo made the announcement.

"I've spent 11 years with the Hanshin Tigers, three years in the majors and then three years at Nippon Ham. I want you to remember my last season in this uniform," Shinjo said. "I want to enjoy the rest of the season more than ever."

In response, fans at the stadium kept yelling out, "don't quit, Shinjo."

Shinjo joined the Tigers in 1991 as their fifth-round draft pick and moved to the New York Mets in 2001 on a free agent deal. In three years in the major leagues he batted .245 with 20 homers and 100 RBIs in 303 games.

In Japan, Shinjo has a .253 lifetime batting average with 192 homers and 663 RBIs in 1,301 games.

"Whether to continue or quit is entirely up to him. I won't make comments on that. But it's a shame a big player like him retires so easily. His defensive, throwing and running skills are at major league level," said Rakuten Eagles manager Katsuya Nomura. Nomura was the Hanshin manager when Shinjo played for the Central League club.

Shinjo was also the first Japanese player to make a World Series appearance with the San Francisco Giants in 2002.

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