Swallows’ Murakami aims for second Triple Crown and team rebound

Third baseman Munetaka Murakami is eager to put his anti-climactic 2023 season behind him and put the Tokyo Yakult Swallows back on track with another Triple Crown this year.

Two years ago, Murakami led the Central League with 56 home runs, 134 RBIs and a .318 batting average to power the Swallows to a second straight pennant. Afterward, he received a three-year contract and spoke of moving to Major League Baseball upon its conclusion.

Things appeared to be going his way in the final games of the 2023 World Baseball Classic in Miami, where his semifinal-winning ninth-inning double and his game-tying home run in the final helped Samurai Japan to the championship.