As the season winds down, retirement announcements have been made and management has begun making roster decisions for next season. Two Swallows players have announced that they would retire from professional baseball at the conclusion of the season. Both pitcher Yuki Tanaka and outfielder Munehiro Shida have announced their intention to retire. Neither player had made an appearance with the top squad this season.
Yuki Tanaka, who often went by his given name, only pitched for one season for the Swallows. The oft-injured Yuki started his career with the Kintetsu Buffaloes before he was shipped off to the Orix BlueWave where he spent the majority of his career. He came to Tokyo last season when Orix released him after sitting out the entire 2008 season due to injury. Yuki started 19 games for the Swallows, and was instrumental in the late season surge that put the team into the CS. Unfortunately right shoulder injuries kept off the field, and led to his decision to call it quits after 13 years in pro ball.
Munehiro Shida was life-long Swallow, having joined the club when he was drafted out of Aoyama Gakuin University in 2001. Shida was given regular playing time as the team’s leadoff hitter in 2004, where he put up pedestrian numbers. After 2005, with the emergence of Aoki, Shida’s role on the team diminished to coming off the bench as a defensive replacement. Despite his reduced role, he did manage to stay on the top team bench until last season. Shida’s game comes down to speed which gave him the ability to cover ground in the outfield, but without the base-running instincts to steal bases. Shida seems to have decided to retire because he couldn’t see a continued future in baseball.
Both players will be honored with a retirement ceremony at Saturday’s game at Jingu.