Giants’ Smoak is leaving Japan to be with family during the pandemic

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The Yomiuri Giants’ first baseman Justin Smoak is returning to the United States because his family has been unable to come to him in Japan and is being suspended, the Central League club said Thursday.

In a comment from the team in Japanese, Smoak, a first year importer, said his situation was difficult and that he had made the decision to be with his family.

“His love for family outweighed everything else,” said Atsuhiro Otsuka, the club’s representative at NPB.

Otsuka, who announced Tuesday that he learned of Smoak’s intentions, said the team had negotiated with NPB to allow his family to enter the country during the pandemic but that “the coronavirus situation is quite difficult is”.

Smoak played for the Giants’ first team in 34 games, hitting .272 with a .336 on-base percentage and .482 slugging average. He’s had seven home runs and 14 RBIs.

After a career in the major league in which the switch hitter scored 196 home runs, the 34-year-old Smoak signed a two-year deal with the Giants in January. In his statement, Smoak apologized to his teammates who played so hard and to all the fans.

Like many other foreign players in the first year, Smoak missed spring training when Japan banned foreigners from entering the country in late January. These players were finally able to arrive after the government introduced entry exemptions for professional athletes and coaches in March.

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