Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is in talks with the Boston Red Sox after drawing a record bid, bode farewell to Seibu Lions fans Thursday when he appeared in an event at the home field of the Pacific League team.
''I'll try to do the best that I can do in America as a representative of Japan and the Seibu Lions,'' Matsuzaka said to about 36,000 fans who gathered at Invoice Seibu Dome to watch the right-hander -- the Lions ace over the past eight years.
Matsuzaka took part in a baseball clinic for children and triggered a flood of camera flashes from the stands when he took the mound during an intra-squad game held as part of attractions at the fan event.
Matsuzaka capped what was believed to be his final home-field appearance in a Lions uniform with a ''farewell'' speech, which he had not intended to deliver Thursday given that he is still in the process of contract negotiations with the Red Sox.
Boston began talks with the prized 26-year-old pitcher after the Lions announced on Nov. 15 that they had accepted a $51 million offer, nearly four times the previous high the Seattle Mariners paid for Ichiro Suzuki in 2000 under the so-called posting system.
Matsuzaka subsequently made a brief visit to the United States to meet with Red Sox officials and his agent.