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Uchikawa revels in PL

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Uchikawa revels in PL

by Jim Allen (Sep 21, 2011)

For Seiichi Uchikawa, signing with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks was simply a matter of going home.

"Not that many players had moved from the Central League to the Pacific League, but for me that was no issue," the Kumamoto native told The Daily Yomiuri earlier this month in Chiba.

"I grew up watching the Hawks. It seemed natural to go there, and it brought me closer to home."

A former CL batting champion and two-time Best IX Award winner with the Yokohama BayStars, Uchikawa became the first star in his prime to leave the CL as a free agent and join a PL club.

Uchikawa got off to a smoking start with the talent-laden Hawks, winning the league's player of the month award in April and being named the Interleague MVP.

The 30-year-old entered play on Tuesday batting .343, despite injuring his right hamstring in June, and missing more than a month.

"I was able to come back quickly, but I struggled at first," he said of his hitting .234 in his first 14 games back.

"My target was to gradually get back into form and be in my best condition at the end of the season."

If his batting results are any indication, he's right on target.

Since Aug. 14, Uchikawa has batted .354 with five homers and 22 RBIs in 31 games as the Hawks roll toward a second straight PL pennant.

"You can't rest with this team, because we are so deep," he said. "If you don't perform, you'll be out of a job. It's good motivation."

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