The Louisville Sluggers had been assembling a dangerous team this past off-season, and looked poised to be ahead of the pack come the 2018 playoffs. But all of that has been cast into some doubt when it was learned that first baseman Setsuo Kimura would miss the entire year with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Kimura was a risky free agent signing back in December, a 38-year-old hard-swinging slugger who has consistently produced long balls for years, and has a .296 career average coupled with a .903 career OPS.
The extremely well-known Japanese lefty batter has played in the Bull League since 1999, spending 19 seasons in New York, with just one year, 2013, in Norfolk, after signing there as a free agent. But he opted out of his second year to go back to free agency, and was lured back to New York with a $33 million, 2-year deal for 2014, extending his time there ever since.
He holds numerous batting records with the Dragons, including most career games (1,332), runs (816), hits (1,463 — about twice as many as the next on the list, Jim Sure), doubles (263), home runs (267) and RBIs (881).
The seven-time All-Star, and three-time Bull Cup champion was thought to be a valuable veteran addition to the Sluggers as they prepared to contest for the Lake League West division this year.
Draftee catcher Les Groves was another key piece the team was planning to lean on this year, and the team picked up RHP Marco Helms, RHP Tomas Maldonado, and LHP Lozaro Lozano to solidify their starting rotation.
However, the loss of Kimura may just be the Sluggers’ “Achilles heel” and will certainly mean a loss of run production for the team.