Daisuke Matsuzaka walks away from baseball with love for game

Former Boston Crimson Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka stated Tuesday he’s glad he can finish his 23-year baseball profession nonetheless loving the sport.

The 41-year-old seven-time Japanese Golden Glove winner pitched one final time for the Seibu Lions, the Pacific League membership the place he began his profession at age 18, at MetLife Dome on Tuesday evening.

He took to the mound towards the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters carrying No. 18, the “ace quantity” he wore in 1999 when he turned professional straight out of Yokohama Excessive College.

Dealing with the Fighters’ leadoff batter Kensuke Kondo, Matsuzaka threw a strike together with his second pitch earlier than issuing a stroll on 5 pitches and making manner for Ken Togame. He clocked 118 kilometers per hour together with his quickest pitch of the evening.

Matsuzaka grew to become a prime prospect in highschool, main his workforce to each the spring invitational and nationwide summer time championship in 1998, profitable the latter with a no-hitter within the remaining.

After an impressive preliminary run with the Saitama-based membership from 1999 to 2006, Matsuzaka rose from teenage wunderkind to considered one of Japan’s finest pitchers. That led to his transfer to Main League Baseball and the Crimson Sox paying a $51 million posting charge to accumulate his companies from the Lions.

Matsuzaka introduced his retirement on July 7 after failing to get well from a cervical backbone surgical procedure final 12 months. Earlier than he signed with Seibu for the 2020 season, he was with the Central League’s Chunichi Dragons for 2 years and noticed minimal motion in 2019.

In discussing his resolution to retire on Tuesday, Matsuzaka stated he started setting issues in movement after a bullpen session in late April, throughout which he almost hit a batter within the head with a pitch.

Numbness in his proper hand following the surgical procedure had left him “petrified of throwing balls,” he stated. “I assumed to myself, ‘I can’t throw anymore. I’ve to stop.’”

Matsuzaka performed for the Crimson Sox and New York Mets in his eight-year main league profession earlier than returning to Nippon Skilled Baseball in 2015.

Matsuzaka, or “Cube-Okay” as he was affectionately known as stateside, stated greater than half of his time enjoying skilled baseball was spent coping with accidents, however due to his first 10 wholesome seasons, he was in a position to play into his forties.

“I need to thank my spouse, my children, my dad and mom, everybody who was part of my baseball life, even opposing followers who hated me,” he stated.

Throughout NPB and MLB, Matsuzaka has thrown over 2,200 innings and gained 170 video games.

His record of accolades consists of his 2007 World Collection ring with the Crimson Sox, the 2004 Japan Collection title with the Lions, two World Baseball Traditional titles for Japan, the 2001 Sawamura Award as NPB’s finest beginning pitcher, seven NPB All-Star choices, and PL Rookie of the 12 months honors in 1999.

The Lions will maintain a retirement ceremony for Matsuzaka on Dec. 4 at their dwelling floor and on-line.

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