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4 Carp lead rush of Golden Glove 1st-timers

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4 Carp lead rush of Golden Glove 1st-timers

by Jim Allen (Nov 12, 2010)

This year's fielding awards were dominated by new faces when the winners of the 2010 Golden Gloves were announced Thursday.

Six first-time winners were among 2010's 17 recipients. The Central League's Hiroshima Carp had four winners, all first-timers, as the team led both leagues in Golden Gloves for the first time since 1984.

Sawamura Award-winning pitcher Kenta Maeda was joined by teammates Eishin Soyogi at shortstop and outfielders Jun Hirose and Masato Akamatsu.

This year's voting saw an historic low: a position without a winner. Voters cast more blank ballots (140) for the best-fielding CL first baseman than for players (120). Kenta Kurihara of the Carp, a winner in 2008 and 2009, was limited by injury to 71 games, six short of the cutoff point for eligibility.

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, with three winners, led the Pacific League in fielding honors for the fourth time in five seasons. Second baseman Kensuke Tanaka, who edged out Yuichi Honda of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the voting 69-60, won for the fifth straight season. He was joined by third baseman Eiichi Koyano and outfielder Yoshio Itoi. Both were first-time winners in 2009, when the Fighters dominated the PL voting with seven awards.

The Fighters' Atsunori Inaba failed to win one of the PL's three outfield honors for the first time since 2005.

All six PL clubs boasted at least one player on the defensive honor roll for the first time since 2003, as catcher Motohiro Shima became the first winner from the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

At first base, 39-year-old Hiroki Kokubo ended the Hawks' four-year drought and became the oldest PL Golden Glove winner. Kokubo, whose previous award was in 1995 at second base, was six months older than the previous PL old-time winners, catcher Katsuya Nomura and outfielder Ken Hirano.

The record for the oldest winner in either league still belongs to first baseman Sadaharu Oh. Japan's all-time home run king won his last fielding award at the age of 40 years 5 months, a record that could fall if Tokyo Yakult Swallows infielder Shinya Miyamoto continues his streak.

Miyamoto, at 39 years 11 months, received more votes than any other player in winning his second straight at third base and his eighth overall. He has won six at shortstop.

Tigers catcher Kenji Jojima won for the first time as a Central Leaguer and an eighth straight time in Japan. Jojima was named the PL's top-fielding catcher with the Hawks from 1999 to 2005, before spending four years in the majors.

Tigers second baseman Keiichi Hirano, who also plays center field for Hanshin, won his first award, beating the Swallows' Hiroyasu Tanaka 107-104 in the year's narrowest margin.

Swallows center fielder Norichika Aoki won his fifth straight award, while leading CL outfielders in the voting for the fourth straight season.

Fighters center fielder Itoi led all PL players in votes with 162. He was joined in the outfield by Orix BlueWave center fielder Tomotaka Sakaguchi, who won his third straight, and Seibu Lions center fielder Takumi Kuriyama, who won for the first time.

Lions right-hander Hideaki Wakui was honored for the second straight time, while the Chiba Lotte Marines' Tsuyoshi Nishioka won his second at shortstop and third overall.

Nishioka became the first player to win a Golden Glove at shortstop and a batting title in the same year.

Morimoto opts for free agency

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters outfielder Hichori Morimoto announced on Thursday that he will file for free agency. Although his service time permits him to seek work overseas, the three-time Golden Glove winner is looking to remain in Japan.

Morimoto, whose batting has suffered since being hit by a pitch in 2008, is a career .265 hitter with 29 home runs, but just three in his last three seasons.

In other baseball news:

--The Yokohama BayStars sent outfielder Shingo Nonaka, 27, and right-hander Kentaro Kuwahara, 25, to the Orix Buffaloes on Thursday in exchange for infielder Ikki Shimamura, 29.

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