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Orix players, coach puzzled by outfielder Oze’s suicide

Date Posted: 2010-02-11

Baseball players, coaches and Miyakojima citizens are still in shock over the suicide of Orix baseball team outfielder Hiroyuki Oze.

The 24-year-old player preparing for his third season in the Japanese professional baseball league was found on a balcony of his hotel last Friday, bleeding from the head. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital after being discovered by hotel staff. “I don’t understand why he killed himself, said coach Akira Okada. “I I was training with him until the day before he died, and I didn’t see anything different with him. He was quite all right.”

A teammate said he couldn’t understand either, “because he just got married last December. He should be happy.” Oze’s father said he didn’t understand what had happened to him.

The 24-year-old Oze joined the Buffaloes in 2008 following his graduation from Kinki University. He was the team’s third-round draft pick, and the 13th player chosen overall in the draft. The team’s flag was hoisted to half-mast at the Miyakojima ball park where the team is practicing, and players Monday dressed in their navy road uniforms with a black ribbon on the right sleeve, rather than the blue and white uniforms normally worn.

Team President Hiroaki Nishima paid a silent tribute to Oze at the Miiyakojima Citizens Ballpark on Miyakojima. Oze, a left-handed hitter who batted .303 during 78 games on the league’s top team last season, reportedly had talked with teammates on Thursday about how he was working to gain more playing time. “I’ve been training unbelievably hard,” he told them. “This is my chance to catch up.”

Miyakojima residents say there’s a strange element to Oze’s suicide at the local hotel. Twelve years ago, at the same hotel, an Orix team organization director committed suicide the same way as Oze, jumping from the veranda and killing himself.

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