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Originally published Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 8:01 PM

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Kenji Johjima rejuvenates career with return to Japan

The former Mariners catcher played in all 144 games, winning a Gold Glove and batting .303 with 28 home runs last season for the Hanshin Tigers.

Special to The Seattle Times

As much as Kenji Johjima is a part of Randy Messenger's story in Japan, the former Mariners catcher was unavailable to talk about it in Okinawa. He had surgery on his left knee last November and spent the first part of spring training rehabbing at Hanshin's minor-league camp in a different location.

After returning to Japan with much fanfare for the 2010 season, Johjima fulfilled one of his goals by playing in all 144 games of Hanshin's season. That tied a professional career high for him set in his first year with the Mariners, 2006. Johjima had played in every game three times previously in his Japanese career when the season was slightly shorter.

Johjima rejuvenated himself at the plate by hitting .303 with 28 home runs last season. He also won a Gold Glove, helping Hanshin to a second-place finish and a return to the postseason after missing out in 2009.

Johjima said he is fit and will be ready for the season opener on Tuesday.

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