Baseball: Yomiuri Fires Takagi After 1 - Yr Gambling Ban

Baseball: Yomiuri fires Takagi after 1-yr gambling banYomiuri Giants pitcher Kyosuke Takagi has been banned for one year for his involvement in gambling on baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball said Tuesday.

NPB Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki handed down the decision to the 26-year-old reliever following a meeting of the investigation panel. The Giants, who terminated Takagi's contract with immediate effect, were also fined 5 million yen, NPB said.

Three other Yomiuri pitchers -- Satoshi Fukuda, Shoki Kasahara and Ryuya Matsumoto -- were banned indefinitely in November for their roles in the scheme.

Kumazaki said Takagi received a lighter sentence than the other three due to the brief period of his involvement from April to May 2014 before cutting off ties with Kasahara, who repeatedly tried to entice him back into the ring.

"(Takagi) only bet on eight or nine games during a span of 10 days or so and quit right away," Kumazaki said. "After that, Kasahara tried to solicit him several times, but he turned him down each time."

"Compared to the three players including Kasahara, there's a clear difference in the degree of his involvement in gambling on baseball."

Takagi confessed to his involvement at a tear-filled press conference on March 9, a development that led to the resignation of the team's three most powerful executives including chief adviser Tsuneo Watanabe.

Kumazaki said the investigation uncovered no evidence Takagi wagered on Giants games nor that he was involved in any form of match-fixing.

On the other hand, Kasahara, Fukuda and Matsumoto also bet on high school and Major League Baseball games, and played high-stakes mahjong and baccarat through a known illegal gambler.

They gambled after practice in the clubhouse or near stadiums, and NPB held Yomiuri liable.

The Seibu Lions revealed Tuesday that one current team personnel -- they would not say whether it was the manager, a coach or a player -- bet on mahjong games with Kasahara and the known gambler in 2013.

The Lions said the person in question told the club that he did not know the gambler was being targeted by NPB until last October, when the story broke.

Seibu said it notified the commissioner's office about the employee in writing on Tuesday.