Friday, February 3, 2023

Keizo Kawashima

Back to the retirement posts...

Keizo Kawashima ended his 17 year, four team playing career at the end of last season.  Kawashima's another guy who ended up being basically a utility player (like Kenshi Sugiya and Kenji Akashi) but I thought his career was interesting enough to warrant a quick post.

Kawashima was the Fighters' third round pick out of Kyushu International University in the 2005 University/Corporate League player draft.  He only spent two seasons with Nippon-Ham, however, getting into a total of 34 games with the ichi-gun team (plus three games in the 2007 Nippon Series), before he was packaged up with Yoshitaka Hashimoto and Takehito Oshimoto in a six person deal with the Swallows for Shugo Fujii, Yataro Sakamoto and Hajime Miki.  

His first two seasons with the Swallows were probably the best ones of his career.  He got into 121 games in 2008 and hit .255 while splitting time at shortstop and third base with Shinya Miyamoto (as well as playing some outfield).  He was the Swallows regular shortstop for most of 2009 (with Miyamoto taking the third base duties) and hit .255 again in 118 games.  He suffered an elbow injury late in the season which ended up costing him all of the 2010 season in rehabilitation after surgery.  He made the Opening Day lineup in 2011 but was hit by a pitch in his second at bat of the game, breaking his hand.  He had surgery on the hand in mid-April and didn't return to the top team again until late July.  His elbow injury returned towards the end of the season and he again had surgery on it which again cost him the next season while he rehabbed it.

He started 2013 as the Swallows starting shortstop again but his poor hitting ended up costing him the job - he hit .213 for the season.  He was able to stay healthy all year for the first time since 2008 though as he got into 101 games.  

His inability to stay healthy returned in 2014 as he broke his thumb sliding into third after hitting a triple during training camp, keeping him off the top team until late May.  He spent the next two months as a pinch runner and defensive replacement before the Swallows traded him and Ryo Hidaka to the Hawks for Nagisa Arakaki and Hirofumi Yamanaka.  He split his time with the Hawks that season almost evenly between the top team and the farm team.

Kawashima would spend the next seven seasons with the Hawks as a pinch runner and utility player in both the infield and outfield.  He was able to mostly stay healthy, although he missed much of the 2016 season with a leg injury and some of the 2019 season with a shoulder injury.  He appeared in five Nippon Series during this time, contributing to the Hawks wins in the 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 Series.

The Hawks released him at the end of the 2021 season and he signed on with the Eagles.  He missed the beginning of last season with COVID and ended up only playing in 12 games at the ichi-gun level, hitting just .136.  He announced his retirement on Ocotober 14th and he'll be the batting coach for Rakuten's farm team this upcoming season.

Kawashima's first cards are from the 2006 BBM Rookie Edition (#36) and 1st Version (#179) sets.  He would only sporadically appear in BBM's flagship sets over his career, only making it into 1st Version sets in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2016 and 2nd Version sets in 2008, 2009,  2013, 2018 and 2019.  His first Calbee card was #137 in 2008 Calbee Series Two.  It looks like he only had a couple Calbee cards - two cards in 2008 and one in 2009.  He appeared in every one of Epoch's NPB sets between 2018 and 2022.  Here's a selection of his cards:

2006 BBM Rookie Edition #36

2006 BBM 1st Version #179

2007 BBM Nippon Series #S55

2009 BBM 2nd Version #713

2013 Bandai Owners League OL04 #030

2016 BBM Hawks #H47

2019 Epoch One #193

2022 Epoch NPB #311

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