Tatsunori Hara Stepping Down as Manager of Yomiuri Giants; Shinnosuke Abe To Take Helm

The Yomiuri Giants
Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, right, walks on the field to acknowledge spectators after the final game against the Chunichi Dragons at the Vantelin Dome Nagoya on Tuesday.

Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara will step down as the skipper of the team after the end of the season and Shinnosuke Abe, the team’s head coach who also serves as the battery coach, will be promoted to take the helm, it was learned Wednesday.

At the start of the season, the Giants aimed to win the Central League pennant for the first time in three years as well as the first Japan Series title since 2012. However, the Giants are ending the season in fourth place in the league for the second consecutive season, meaning the team failed to advance to the postseason Climax Series where the top three teams of both the Central and Pacific leagues compete.

Hara has served two years in a three-year contract, and he is stepping down with one year left in his contract. As the club will observe the 90th anniversary of its establishment in 1934 next year, the Giants will try to make a fresh start with Abe at the helm.

Hara, the Giants’ 48th cleanup hitter, retired as a player after the 1995 season. After spending time as a commentator, he returned to the team as a coach in 1998 and was promoted to the head coach position in 2000 under manager Shigeo Nagashima.

He was promoted to manager of the team before the 2002 season started as Nagashima’s successor. In that season, he led the Giants to the league championship as well as the Japan Series title, beating Pacific League champions Seibu Lions.

Hara managed the team for a total of 17 seasons over the course of three stints, leading the Giants to nine league titles, including three seasons in a row twice. The team won the Japan Series three times under Hara’s stewardship.

As the Giant’s manager, his record stands at 1,290 wins, 1,025 losses and 91 draws, having the most wins among any Giants skippers in the team’s history.

Abe joined the Giants in 2001 as a No. 1 draft pick from Chuo University. While playing as the regular catcher for many years, Abe also contributed to the team as a hitter with both power and skill. From 2007, Abe served as team captain for eight seasons. He marked such milestones as his 2,000th base hit in 2017 and 400th home run in 2019.

Until retiring after the 2019 season, Abe piled up 2,132 base hits and 406 home runs in the regular season, with a .284 batting average over 19 seasons.

Abe became the manager of the Giants’ farm team in 2020. He concurrently served as tactical coach and chief defense coach of the Giants in 2022 and as head coach and battery coach in 2023.