Yuji Nerei (根鈴 雄次)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 10", Weight 200 lb.
A baseball world traveler, Yuji Nerei played in Canada, the USA, Mexico and the Netherlands. The Japanese outfielder had his best years in the American independent leagues and the Netherlands.
Nerei was at the Playball Baseball Academy in Florida, which later developed Rick Vanden Hurk, before he was signed by the Montréal Expos as a free agent in 2000. He split his rookie year between the Cape Fear Crocs (.294/.467/.735 in 14 games), the Harrisburg Senators (.250/.292/.455 in 12 games) and the Ottawa Lynx (.247/.352/.358 in 52 games), spending most of his first year at AAA. While his baseball age was given as 22 that season, which would have been old for a rookie in the minors, but relatively young for AAA, he was in fact four years older and already 26.
Nerei was let go by the Expos and picked up by the independent leagues. He hit .275/?/.349 for the St. Paul Saints and .327/.441/.588 for the Evansville Otters. Though he only played 44 games for Evansville, he led the team in home runs (10) and tied for the RBI lead (40).
Nerei went north of the US border in 2003 with the London Monarchs, hitting .397 with 3 HR and 17 RBI. Had he qualified, he would have ranked third in the short-lived Canadian Baseball League in batting average.
In 2004, Nerei moved to his fourth independent league, moving to the Elmira Pioneers and hitting .351/.461/.524. He was third in the Northeast League in average but was left off the league All-Star team.
In 2006, Nerei signed with the Neptunus club in Hoofdklasse. Hitting cleanup for the defending champions (having won the past 7 titles), Nerei batted .351/~.446/.550 but it was not enough to give the team another pennant. He led the league in slugging (24 points ahead of Kalian Sams and doubles (15) and tied Dè Flanegin for third in RBI (31). He was fifth in average.
Nerei then became a player-coach in a Japanese Independent League for 2007.