Kaz Matsui to play in Japan next season

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TOKYO, Nov. 22 (16:57) Kyodo

Kazuo Matsui will return to Japanese baseball next year for the
first time since 2003, the free agent infielder said Monday.

Matsui, who had been keeping his options open on both sides of
the Pacific, revealed no team names but confirmed he had no offers on
the table from major league clubs.

Matsui, who turns 36 next year, last played in Japan with the
Seibu Lions before signing as a free agent with the New York Mets in
2004. He has been linked with several Japanese teams, among them the
Orix Buffaloes.

''I don't want to let this drag on,'' Matsui said. ''It's nice
that teams appreciate me.''

The switch-hitting Matsui was waived by the Houston Astros in
May and finished the season with the Triple A affiliate of his former
team, the Colorado Rockies, who he played with in the 2007 World

Matsui appeared in just 27 games for the Astros this season,
hitting a meager .141. In seven years in the majors, he averaged .267
while stealing a total of 102 bases.

Akinori Iwamura is also coming back to Japan from the big
leagues, having already signed with the Rakuten Eagles.

Matsui played shortstop and second base in the majors, and the
former seven-time All-Star with Seibu is prepared to do the same for
his new employers in 2011.

''I like to think that it's a strength of mine, being able to
play both positions,'' the Osaka native said. ''I want to be ready to
meet the needs of whoever I play for.''

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