Japanese outfielder Hideki Matsui said Thursday he has decided to retire from baseball.
The 38-year-old slugger, a two-time All-Star and former World Series MVP with the New York Yankees, had been a free agent since his release from the Tampa Bay Rays in August.
Matsui began his professional career with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan's Central League in 1993 and came to the majors in 2003.
He batted .292 with 140 home runs over seven seasons in Yankee pinstripes, earning trips to the All-Star Game in 2003 and 2004.
In his final year in New York, Matsui helped lead his team to the 2009 World Series with a .349 postseason batting average, and went 8-for-13 with three home runs in the final series as the Yankees downed the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.
Following his World Series MVP performance, Matsui moved west and played on one-year contracts with the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics. He appeared in 34 major-league games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012, batting .147 with two home runs and seven RBIs.
He hit .282 with 175 homers and 760 RBIs in his major-league career.
In Japan, Matsui had a .304 career average, 332 homers and 889 RBIs with the Giants. He was named the Central League Most Valuable Player in 1996, 2000 and 2002, while leading the league in homers and RBIs three times each and batting average once.
Former major league reliever Takashi Saito will return to his roots, having agreed to play for the Rakuten Eagles, Kyodo News learned Friday.
The 42-year-old Saito is a Sendai native and played his college ball at Tohoku Fukushi University. He left the Yokohama BayStars to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006, collecting 39 saves and appearing in the All-Star Game the following year.
The deal could be announced as early as Saturday.
"We hope he does well with us to inspire the Tohoku region," Rakuten president Yozo Tachibana said. "We're counting on him to help the younger players by passing on his experience from the majors."
In his career in the majors, he went 21-15 with 84 saves and a 2.34 ERA.
NEW YORK--While the debate has started about whether Hideki Matsui has earned a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, the former New York Yankees slugger will already have a presence at the shrine in Cooperstown, N.Y.
The bat that Matsui used to hit his first major league home run in 2003 will be put on display, the website of the Yankees TV network (YES) has reported.
Matsui, who announced his retirement in late December, moved to the Yankees after 10 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants as the first Japanese power hitter to jump to the major leagues.
In his first game on April 8, 2003, Matsui became the first Yankee to hit a grand slam in his debut at Yankee Stadium, homering against the Minnesota Twins.
What previously looked like a strong possibility has become a confirmed and controversial certainty. Despite a field loaded with qualified candidates, no one will be elected to the Hall of Fame the writer's ballot this year. It's the first time that's happened since 1996 and the 16th overall since 1940, though none of those years featured such a deep crop of candidates nor such a divisive issue like steroid abuse.
BBWAA.com has the full results of the voting. Barry Bonds (36.2 percent) and Roger Clemens (37.6) didn't come close to getting the 75 percent of the vote necessary for election their first time on the ballot. Neither did Mike Piazza (57.8) or Sammy Sosa (12.5). Craig Biggio led all players with 68.2 percent of the vote and was just 39 votes short of election. He was followed by Jack Morris (67.7 percent), Jeff Bagwell (59.6), Piazza (57.8) and Tim Raines (52.2).
Yankees want Matsui to retire in pinstripes, may offer one-day contract
PARADISE VALLEY, Arizona, Jan. 10 (13:47) Kyodo
Hideki Matsui could wear pinstripes again -- for one, last day.
The New York Yankees are considering signing Matsui to a one-day contract so he can retire as a member of the organization, team co-owner Hal Steinbrenner said Thursday.
Hailing the 38-year-old Matsui, who retired last month after 20 years of baseball on either side of the Pacific, as one of the all-time Yankee greats, Steinbrenner also said the Japanese slugger could throw out the first pitch as a token of appreciation for his seven seasons of service with the Yankees.
Matsui played for the Yankees from 2003 to 2009, helping the team win the World Series in his last year as the series MVP. He batted .282 with 175 home runs and 760 RBIs during his major league career.
Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver passes away at 82
Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver died while on a cruise in the Caribbean early Saturday morning, according to the New York Daily News. He was 82.
Weaver was traveling on an Orioles fantasy cruise with his wife, Maryanne, when he collapsed in his room at 2 a.m. Saturday with her by his side.
Weaver won 1,480 games as the Orioles manager for 17 seasons, including four trips to the World Series and one title in 1970.
"Earl Weaver was a brilliant baseball man, a true tactician in the dugout and one of the key figures in the rich history of the Baltimore Orioles, the Club he led to four American League pennants and the 1970 World Series Championship," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Having known Earl throughout my entire career in the game, I have many fond memories of the Orioles and the Brewers squaring off as American League East rivals. Earl's managerial style proved visionary, as many people in the game adopted his strategy and techniques years later.
"Earl was well known for being one of the game's most colorful characters with a memorable wit, but he was also amongst its most loyal. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to his wife, Marianne, their family and all Orioles fans."
His .583 winning percentage is fifth all-time among managers with at least 10 years of experience in the 20th century.
"Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball," Orioles owner Peter Angelos said in a statement.
Weaver was known for his confrontations with umpires and his philosophy of waiting for the three-run homer instead of manufacturing runs with bunts and stolen bases.
Although he was ejected from 91 games in his managerial career, he enjoyed five 100-win seasons, six American League East division championships and four AL pennants.
"This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans," Angelos said. "Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family."
Weaver won Manager of the Year three times in posting a 1,480-1,060 record.
Weaver was inducted into the Hall of Famer in 1996, 10 years after he retired.
Stan Musial passes away at 92
CNN) -- Baseball Hall of Famer and St. Louis Cardinals great Stan Musial has died, according to his former team.
He was 92.
"We have lost the most beloved member of the Cardinals family," said William DeWitt Jr., the club's chairman. "Stan Musial was the greatest player in Cardinals history and one of the best players in the history of baseball."
Musial died Saturday evening at his Ladue, Missouri, home surrounded by family, the Cardinals said in a statement.
The Pennsylvania-born Musial transitioned from a lackluster pitcher to a stellar slugging outfielder, according to his biography on the National Baseball Hall of Fame's website.
The left-hander hit above .300 17 times during his 22-year career -- all with St. Louis -- and earned three National League Most Valuable Player awards, as well as three World Series titles. The only blip came in 1945, in the thick of World War II, when he left baseball to join the U.S. Navy.
After the 1963 season, Musial retired with a .331 career batting average and as the National League's career leader in RBI, games played, runs scored, hits and doubles.
He also stood out for his grace and sportsmanship -- having never been ejected once by an umpire. In his retirement ceremony, Major League Commissioner Ford Frick referred to Musial as "baseball's perfect warrior, baseball's perfect knight."
In 1969, Musial was elected on his first try into the Hall of Fame, calling it "the greatest honor of the many that have been bestowed upon me."
During and after his playing carer, Musial developed a special relationship with the St. Louis fan base, who knew him simply as "Stan the Man."
A bronze statue of him stands outside Busch Stadium, which is located in Musial Plaza along Stan Musial Drive.
He continued with the organization for more than 25 years after his playing days ended, serving as vice president and general manager.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- With at least one spot open in his rotation, new Indians manager Terry Francona will give a pitcher he knows well a shot to win a starting job.
Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka has agreed to a minor league contract with Cleveland. Matsuzaka, who pitched for Francona with the Boston Red Sox, must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized.
The 32-year-old Matsuzaka has won 50 major league games since signing a $52 million, six-year contract with Boston as free agent in 2007. Dice-K went 33-15 with a 3.72 ERA in 61 starts for Boston in 2007-08. However, he has been limited to 18 starts and 83 innings the last two seasons after right elbow surgery in 2011.
Ichiro Suzuki was unhurt in a car crash Saturday after the Yankees' game against the Detroit Tigers at the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Florida, according to New York media reports.
"He is fine," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the New York Post. "His interpreter called to let us know."
According to the New York Daily News, Suzuki, who signed a two-year deal with the Yankees in the offseason, was cut off by a woman driver as she tried to make a left turn after leaving Steinbrenner Field.
No one including Suzuki was injured but the outfielder's Land Rover had to be towed.
"He did nothing wrong," Tampa police Lt. Ronald McMullen said. "The woman was given a citation for cutting him off."
Japan beats China 5-2 to improve to 2-0 at WBC
By JIM ARMSTRONG | Associated Press
FUKUOKA, Japan (AP) \ Two-time defending champion Japan beat China 5-2 on Sunday to improve to 2-0 in Group A of the World Baseball Classic.
With Japan up 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth at Fukuoka Dome, Yoshio Itoi broke the game open with a bases-clearing double to center field that made it 5-0 for the hosts.
Japan starter Kenta Maeda picked up the win after striking out six and giving up one hit over five scoreless innings.
"Our pitchers did very well tonight," Japan manager Koji Yamamoto said. "We've been a little worried about Maeda coming in but he went out tonight and pitched a very strong game, which will give us confidence."
Japan would have had a more comfortable win had it not been for a shaky outing by reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi who surrendered China's first run on a wild pitch in the ninth and allowed another on a fielder's choice before recording the final out.
China got two of its three hits in the top of the ninth when it put pressure on Japan for the first time.
"Baseball is new in China and this was just another step," China manager John McLaren said. "I thought the guys played really hard. We didn't hit much until the end of the game so we're just trying to get better with every game."
Japan took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Sho Tanaka singled to left scoring Itoi from second. Seiichi Uchikawa made it 2-0 in the fourth on a single to right before Itoi's clutch double.
Cuba beat Brazil 5-2 earlier Sunday in its first game of the tournament. Brazil dropped to 0-2.
Two teams from the group will advance to the March 8-12 second round at Tokyo Dome with a chance to move on to the March 17-19 championship round in San Francisco.
Japan beats Netherlands 10-6 at WBC
By JIM ARMSTRONG | Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) \ Shinnosuke Abe homered twice in an eight-run second inning, Hisayoshi Chono drove in five runs and two-time defending champion Japan beat the Netherlands 10-6 Tuesday to win its second-round group in the World Baseball Classic.
Both nations already had clinched berths in the semifinals at San Francisco on March 17-18. Japan will play the second-place team from the other group, which includes the United States, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Italy. The Netherlands will meet the group winner.
Japan, with no players from major league rosters, is 5-1 as it bids for a third straight WBC title.
"Getting eight runs like that early was huge," Japan manager Koji Yamamoto said. "It was good to see Abe hitting like that because we rely on him in big games."
The Netherlands' Andrelton Simmons led off the game with a home run on Kenji Otonari's second pitch, but Abe homered off David Bergman leading off the second.
Nobuhiro Matsuda's RBI single and Chono's three-run double gave Japan a 5-1 lead, and Abe hit a three-run homer off Jonatan Isenia.
"It's been a while since I hit two in one inning," said Abe, Japan's captain. "We had a lot of support from our fans here and now we're going over there to win it all."
Otonari, the winner, struck out six in three innings and allowed one run and one hit. Bergman, the loser, gave up seven runs and four hits in 1 2-3 innings.
The Dutch closed in the seventh against Masahiko Morifuku on Xander Bogaerts' RBI single and Randolph Oduber's sacrifice fly, then pulled to 8-6 in the eighth on Curt Smith's run-scoring grounder and Kalian Sams' two-out, RBI single off Tetsuya Yamaguchi, and Quintin De Cuba's run-scoring single against Hideaki Wakui. With runners at the corners, Wakui struck out Oduber.
Chono hit a two-run single off Kevin Heijstek in the bottom half.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- Daisuke Matsuzaka will not make the Cleveland Indians' opening-day roster.
Matsuzaka, trying to make a comeback after pitching in just 11 games last season with Boston following elbow reconstruction surgery, may accept an offer to stay in the club's minor league camp. The 32-year-old Japanese right-hander was trying to win a spot in Cleveland's rotation.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona met with Dice-K and reliever Matt Capps on Monday and told both they will not break camp with the club.
Matsuzaka expressed an interest in staying with Cleveland, Antonetti said, adding that details need to be worked out with agent Scott Boras.
16 year old Japanese prep star throws 232 pitches in one game
Get Dr. James Andrews on line one.
The surgeon who's performed almost every famous ligament surgery over the past decade might have a future client in Tomohiro Anraku, a 16-year-old Japanese pitching sensation who just threw 232 pitches in a single game, according to a Baseball America report.
Japanese high school pitching phenom Tomohiro Anraku reportedly threw 232 pitches in a game.
The Saibi (Ehime Prefecture, Japan) High sophomore right-hander reached that total over 13 innings in a 4-3 win in a national prep tournament in Japan on Tuesday, Baseball America reported. He struck out 13, allowed 10 hits and walked five in the victory.
Given the limitations on prep pitch counts Stateside and in Latin America, 232 pitches over a few hours may seem like mismanagement by Anraku's high school coach at best and perhaps even abuse, but high pitch totals aren't exactly out of the ordinary in Japan.
gPretty impressive,h a scout told Baseball America, gbut they kill those kids there.h
Just ask former Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who as a 17-year-old Japanase high school prospect threw 250 pitches in a single game during a tournament in which he pitched 36 innings over four days, according to Baseball America. Or ask Ryota Shimoishi, who threw 219 pitches opposite Anraku in the 4-3 loss to Saibi on Tuesday.
But Anraku is the real prize, if he doesn't require Tommy John surgery before his high school career is over. According to Baseball America, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound righty's 94 MPH fastball stayed in the high 80s over the course of his 232-pitch game, and he relied on his off-speed repertoire -- including a curveball in the mid-70s -- as the game wore on.
Japanese pitchers generally finish their prep careers and sign a deal with their home country's Nippon Professional Baseball league, but at 16 years old Anraku could sign a deal in the millions with a Major League Baseball organization right now.
If MLB clubs had their way, they'd rather get their hands on Anraku now before he throws another few thousand pitches and might need to consult with Dr. Andrews.
After all, Andrews had this to say last spring after a pair of Louisiana prep hurlers combined for almost 350 pitches: gItfs ludicrous and itfs not safe judgment. That is just way too many pitches. That shouldnft happen anywhere in any league.h
Anraku and Shimoishi combined for more than 450 pitches.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Clayton Kershaw launched his first career home run to break a scoreless tie in the eighth inning, then finished off a four-hitter Monday that led the Los Angeles Dodgers over the San Francisco Giants 4-0 on opening day.
Kershaw became the first pitcher to throw a shutout and hit a home run in an opener since Bob Lemon for Cleveland in 1953, STATS said.
Kershaw struck out seven, walked none and retired World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval on a grounder to end it.
The former Cy Young winner began the day as a career .146 batter with only one extra-base hit in 261 at-bats. But he sent the first pitch from George Kontos (0-1) over the center-field wall, triggering a standing ovation and prolonged roar from the sellout crowd of 53,000.
After high-fiving his teammates, Kershaw tipped his cap from the dugout.
Kershaw became the first pitcher in the majors to homer on opening day since Joe Magrane of St. Louis in 1988, and the first Dodgers pitcher to do it since Don Drysdale in 1965.
''I never knew what that felt like,'' Kershaw said.
Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, wearing his vintage No. 32 jersey, threw out the ceremonial first ball. In 1964, Koufax pitched the first opening-day shutout at Dodger Stadium.
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