Pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose name became synonymous with a generation of Japanese pro baseball talent, will make this his last pro season, a source with knowledge of the matter said Tuesday.
The 40-year-old right-hander with 114 career wins in Japan and another 56 in the major leagues, has decided to call it quits due to a lack of progress in coming back from neck surgery last July.
Matsuzaka became a household name as Yokohama High School’s ace pitcher on the national stage in the spring and summer championships held every year at historic Koshien Stadium.
He turned pro straight out of high school with the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Pacific League in 1999, when won 16 games and was named the Pacific League’s rookie of the year. Due to his success and popularity, other players from his same school year became known as the “Matsuzaka generation.”
Matsuzaka, who led the Pacific League in wins in each of his first three seasons, won a Japan Series with the Lions, a World Series with the Boston Red Sox and was named the Most Valuable Player of the first two World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009.
After the 2006 season, the Red Sox were the top bidders for him when he moved to the majors via the posting system, and he joined them on a six-year contract. During his time with Boston, Matsuzaka underwent Tommy John surgery.
He spent his last one-and-a-half seasons in the majors with the New York Mets, but was lured back to Japan in 2015 on a three-year deal with the Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks. He spent two more seasons with the Central League’s Chunichi Dragons before returning to the Lions in 2020.
Matsuzaka’s Seibu homecoming, however, has failed to bear fruit. Last year, he suffered from neck pain and numbness in his pitching hand before having cervical vertebrae surgery in July.
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