Baseball: Softbank Poised To Reel In Matsuzaka

Baseball: Softbank poised to reel in MatsuzakaFree-agent pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka has apparently decided to return to Japanese baseball with the Japan Series champion Softbank Hawks, who said Monday they are keen to have him.

The 34-year-old Matsuzaka last played in Japan in 2006, when he was posted by the Pacific League's Seibu Lions and fetched a fee of more than $51 million from the Boston Red Sox, where he spent six seasons and won the 2007 World Series.

"Pitchers who can start are a valuable commodity, so we will do our best to get him," said team president Yoshimitsu Goto. "We hope to get this done in the coming days."

Last year, Matsuzaka was with the New York Mets, appearing in 34 games as both a starter and as a reliever under former Orix Buffaloes manager Terry Collins. Matsuzaka went 3-3 with one save and a 3.89 ERA in 2014.

The right-hander had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in June 2011 and came back a year later, but has not been able to recapture the form that won him 18 games with a 2.90 ERA in 2008, his best season with the Red Sox.

Matsuzaka has a career record in Nippon Professional Baseball of 108-60, while posting an ERA of 2.95. Left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima, who went to Boston in 2006 along with Matsuzaka, is currently on the Hawks roster.

Catcher Toru Hosokawa, a former Lions teammate, said at Softbank's fan festival on Monday, "With our ace (Tadashi) Settsu, Matsuzaka gives us two marquee starters to carry us."