By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
World No. 1 Japan announced on Monday that Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters utility player Yuki Nomura will replace Orix Buffaloes shortstop Kotaro Kurebayashi on the national team roster for the Asia Professional Baseball Championship that will be held at the Tokyo Dome from November 16-19.
Kurebayashi finished his fourth season in Nippon Professional Baseball with the Buffaloes and will be sidelined due to carpometacarpal ligament damage to the forefinger of his glove hand, which he injured during the 2023 Japan Series.
This season, Kurebayashi split time between the main club and the minor league team of the Buffaloes. Kurebayashi played in 127 games with the Buffaloes batting .275 in 482 plate appearances while recording 122 hits, 19 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 39 RBI, 28 walks, and 63 strikeouts including a .695 OPS.
During the minor league season, Kurebayashi played in 16 games with 61 plate appearances, batting .281 with 16 hits, three triples, two RBI, two walks, and eight strikeouts.
Kurebayashi played in the 2023 Japan Series and recorded a hit in six consecutive games from game two through game seven alongside scoring two runs.
Nomura has played four seasons of his professional career in NPB with the Nippon-Ham Fighters. This past season, Nomura split time between the main club and the minor league team.
Nomura played in 125 games with the Nippon-Ham Fighters with 473 plate appearances he batted .236 recording 100 hits, 21 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 43 RBI, 42 walks, and 112 strikeouts including a .692 OPS.
In nine games at the minor league level, Nomura batted .353 with 41 plate appearances recording 12 hits, two doubles, five home runs, 15 RBI, six walks, and five strikeouts alongside a 1.292 OPS.
The Asia Professional Baseball Championship is sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation Asia sector and will affect the new World Baseball Rankings that will be released on December 31, 2023.
World No. 4 Korea, No. 5 Chinese Taipei, and No. 11 Australia will also participate in the tournament.