The Giants’ Yuto Sakamoto negotiated a contract renewal at the end of last month, signing for the same salary of 600 million yen for the season.
In his 16th year as a professional, Sakamoto injured his left side before the season started, and was dropped to the second team three times after that. In the end, he played 83 games and batted .286 with five home runs and 33 runs batted in. Sakamoto said
I struggled a lot with the conditions. I couldn’t bat as well as I wanted to.
He also handed over the captaincy he had held for eight years to Kaz Okamoto, a younger player.
The general sports press reported that Sakamoto had “suffered from injuries all year,” but one must not forget the “abortion scandal” involving his former girlfriend, A, which was reported by Bunshun Online in September.
Sakamoto and Ms. A met at a drinking party and soon after had a physical relationship.
While Ms. A wanted a serious relationship, Sakamoto treated Ms. A with disdain. A line between the two was also leaked to Bunshun. The Internet was full of criticism, saying that she was ‘an enemy of women’ and ‘a disgrace to women.
(A wide-show insider said that although Ms. A eventually became pregnant, Sakamoto demanded that she have an abortion, and in her shock, Ms. A attempted suicide. In response, the Yomiuri Giants told Bunshun that the two parties had already settled the case. After the settlement, Mr. A contacted the Giants several times, and the lawyers discussed the matter again and agreed not to communicate directly with each other.
Even at the contract renewal, the media did not ask any questions about the scandal. This was not a request by Yomiuri, but rather “the discovery” by the media. A sports newspaper reporter in charge of professional baseball said, “The contract renewal is the only place for baseball players to renew their contracts.
It is an unspoken understanding that only baseball-related questions are to be asked at contract renewal meetings, and that questions about his private life are not allowed unless he gives the OK in advance. If I broke this rule, I might not be able to cover the Giants for a year. So I can only ask questions like, ‘Looking back on the year…'”
During the season, reports of love affairs and marriages are generally not permitted, except from the baseball team, and the Giants’ stance is to ask only about baseball while they are playing baseball.
I’m just asking them when they are going to ask me about it. (laughs). (Laughs.) That’s why players grow up. Players of popular teams such as the Giants and Hanshin are especially protected. Even Sakamoto had a scandal involving a woman once or twice, and each time the team came out and took care of it. The team has come out and taken care of it on each occasion.
It is unlikely that Sakamoto himself will open up about the scandal in the future.
Next season is the final year of the five-year contract. The fans are not happy about the huge annual salary of 600 million yen.
Even if it is unavoidable under the contract, it is still too much.
“He’s going to be a salary dodger if he keeps on like this,” were some of the harsh comments from fans.
“Hara, too, has been a good player for Sakamoto,” said one fan.
Hara, who has treated Sakamoto differently in the past, has declared that he will take a hard look at him next season. It’s a generational change. With injuries and physical decline, the position of ranger is no longer secure.
In the off-season, Hisayoshi Nagano, who moved to Hiroshima in 1919 as FA compensation, returned to the Giants. According to a source in the baseball world, “The only person who can say anything about Sakamoto is Nagano.
Nagano is the only one who can talk to Sakamoto. The idea of Nagano coming back to the Giants had been in the works for longer than anyone had imagined, as it would have a positive effect on Sakamoto’s mental state.
Sakamoto was “paid 600 million yen” to be a member of the team. Will Sakamoto be able to do something worth the 600 million yen?