The Saitama Seibu Lions filed the process on Monday to release Ernesto Mejia and placed him on waivers at his request. He asked for this release to put in more commitment to his family. He released the following statement:
"It's a very difficult time all over the world and it was really hard for me, who came to Japan from far away, to have no family present. I wish our teammates the best of luck for the remainder of the 2021 season and hope they will be healthy, strong and able to win. Thanks to all Lions fans for your continued support since 2014. I hope you all understand my decision. I apologize for the need to prioritize my family. I'll continue to support the Lions forever, even from abroad."
Mejia, who turns 36 in December, played for eight seasons with the Lions starting as a midseason pickup in 2014. The Lions were in need of a 1B after scrambling several players at the position, including a traditional OF in Hichori Morimoto.
Despite signing in May of 2014, he won the Pacific League home run king tying Takeya Nakamura with 34 HRs. After a subpar 2015, his 2016 had a great pace in home runs and he earned a three year contract. One of his highlights include winning the All Star game Home Run derby in Yokohama.
General Manager "Nabe-Q" had the following statement:
"He's been with the Lions since 2014 for eight years, so I'm very sorry to hear he's leaving. However, I think this is unavoidable because his family is the main reason. He had a good personality and was a player who respected Japanese baseball. I appreciate him very much."
Mejia's time dwindled in 2017 with the emergence of Hotaka Yamakawa. He was mostly a part-time player with seldom PH and DH appearances from 2017-2021. For the final regular season home game of 2019, he hit an unlikely sayonara HR off Yuki Matsui, where the Lions eventually won the pennant.
Originally, he began his baseball career with the Atlanta Braves organization as a teenager. He made it as high as AAA, as Freddie Freeman prevented him from any chance of being called up,
We wish Mejia and his family the best of luck moving forward.
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