Former major leaguer Shinjo becomes a manager

Former Major League Baseball player Shinjo Tsuyoshi is the new manager for a Japanese club based in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido.

Shinjo, who is 49, signed a contract with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters on Thursday.

Shinjo said in a news conference that he was surprised by the offer. He said at first he wondered if he was the right person for the job, but then he thought he would be perfect. He said he wants to bring changes to the team, as well as the professional baseball league.

The Fighters have been struggling in fifth place for three years in a row in the Pacific League.

Shinjo said he could make the team strong if he could nurture three talented pitchers and four talented field players. He stressed that the starting lineup is not decided, and he wants the players to compete for their positions.

Shinjo said he's not going to aim for the championship, but the team could be in contention in September by training diligently every day.

He revealed he had signed a one-year contract, saying a multi-year contract could lead to making excuses over results.

Shinjo joined the Hanshin Tigers of the Central League in 1990. He played for the New York Mets in 2001, the San Francisco Giants in 2002, and the Mets again in 2003. He returned to Japan and played for the Fighters from 2004 to 2006, when he retired at the end of the season.