Matsuzaka to Return to Japan

It appears Daisuke Matsuzaka will return to Japan to finish out his career. The Softbank Hawks will be holding a press conference on December 5 to announce his arrival with the team. He will join a number of Japanese players like Kaz Matsui, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Tadahito Iguchi and Kosuke Fukudome who have returned to Japan after some success in the major leagues.

Matsuzaka could have had greater success in the major leagues, but he hurt his arm pitching for Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and eventually had to undergo surgery. The previous season in 2008 he finished 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA paving the way for the success of Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and Masahiro Tanaka. Hideo Nomo had paved the way for Matsuzaka to achieve success in the United States.

In 2007 Matsuzaka first arrived in the United States finishing 15-12, with a 4.40 ERA in 32 starts. Though his numbers were not that good he was instrumental in leading the Boston Red Sox to their second World Series victory in his rookie season.

Another player expecting to return to Japan is Hiroyuki Nakajima, who is expected to sign with the Hanshin Tigers. Nakajima signed as a free agent with the Oakland Athletics back in 2013. He was expected to be their starting shortstop but a hamstring injury before the end of spring training but him on the disabled list to start the season. Jed Lowrie was put at shortstop and won the position, relegating Nakajima to the minor leagues.

A number of Japanese teams would love to sign Ichiro Suzuki to finish out his career in Japan, but he is still set on finding a major league team. While he could fill a starting role with a Japanese team he will be no better than a fourth outfielder in the major leagues.

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