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Hitoshi Tamura

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Hitoshi Tamura

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 173 lb.

Hitoshi Tamura was drafted in the 4th round of the 1994 NPB draft by the Yokohama BayStars but spent most of the next six years in ni-gun. In one 11-game stretch during his minor league career, he hit three grand slams. In '97, Tamura had a brief look with Yokohama, batting .269/.259/.423. The next year, he missed most of the season due to shoulder surgery. In 2000, he batted .257/.306/.385 for Yokohama, then he slipped to .163/.315/.279 in limited duty at age 24 with 15 strikeouts in 43 AB. Early in his career, he had trouble hitting sliders.

As a frequently used backup in 2002, Tamura put up a .235/.278/.361 line while continuing to strike out too frequently. In '03, Hitoshi hit .293/.340/.566 with 65 K in 242 AB and 18 homers, while stealing 14 in 21 tries as the primary BayStars right fielder. He missed time that year due to a torn thumb ligament.

2004 marked a rare full season for Tamura. Hitting fifth behind Tyrone Woods and replacing Tatsuhiko Kinjo in center (Kinjo took his right field slot), Hitoshi hit .305/.363/.624 with 40 homers, 100 RBI and 126 strikeouts while playing excellent defense in center field. Emerging suddenly as a star player, Tamura set a Yokohama club record for home runs by a native Japanese player. He was fourth in the Central League in slugging, tied for fifth in homers, sixth in RBI and fifth in strikeouts.

Tamura began 2005 in even finer form. In April, he had two winning hits against Dan Miceli in the span of three days, helping ruin Dan's chances at a career in Japan. Tamura hurt his back in June but was still leading the CL in average and was a strong Triple Crown candidate before his season came to a crash in June. His porsche spun into an accident on the Yokohama-Yokosuka Expressway on June 29 and Tamura hurt his left shoulder and left retina. He returned after a month off but his production fell as he was not back to full form. He finished at .304/.369/.578 with 31 homers, fourth in the CL in slugging again, fifth in OPS, 7th in homers and missing the top 10 in RBI and average.

Through 2005, Tamura's NPB stats were .284/.341/.527 with 103 HR.

Tamura was still picked to play for Japan in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. The 28-year-old flyhawk hit .259/.412/.593 and led the title-winning team in homers (3) and RBI (9) while tying for the lead in walks (6) in 8 games. He tied for third in the WBC in homers, RBI and walks and led in strikeouts (9). He was not chosen to the All-Tourney team.

In 2006, Tamura sprained his wrist on June 3 to continue his run of injuries. Four days later, Hitoshi sustained a rib cartilage injury in a home-plate collision with Akihito Fujii. He was only healthy enough to play 39 games all year, batting .276/.359/.488. After the season, Yokohama dealt him to the Softbank Hawks for pitcher Hayato Terahara.

Principal Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland

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