Matsuzaka makes 'farewell' appearance before fans

 
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TOKOROZAWA, Japan, Nov. 23 (21:26) Kyodo

 
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.
 


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