Five Hanshin Tigers players, four from the Central League first team have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the club said Friday before the team -- minus the infected players and those deemed to have been in close contact them -- took on the Yakult Swallows in Tokyo.
Infielders Kento Itohara, the Tigers captain, and Naomasa Yokawa as well as pitchers Yuta Iwasada and Kosuke Baba tested positive in team-wide testing after minor league pitcher Masumi Hamachi tested positive on Thursday evening.
Hamachi was activated on Sept. 11 and appeared in one game, eight days later on Saturday in Nagoya against the Chunichi Dragons and was deactivated on Monday.
The team said Hamachi dined with three players, including Baba, in a private room at a restaurant in Nagoya on Saturday after he pitched. That day, Yokawa and Iwasada also dined out in a group of seven players and one member of the team staff.
Hamachi complained of a light headache and fatigue on Thursday and was tested in a hospital in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, where the team is based.
Friday's game between the Tigers' and Dragons' Western League farm teams was canceled. A total of 40 players and staff with the Tigers' farm team all tested negative in polymerase chain reaction tests taken on Thursday evening.
Nippon Professional Baseball said after an extraordinary meeting of its executive committee that it plans to play all 120 games of a season that has been truncated due to the pandemic.