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Saito determined to stay in majors

Kyodo News

Reliever Takashi Saito hopes to find a new team in the major leagues next year after the Atlanta Braves unconditionally released him earlier this month.

“I don’t have a particular image of where I would be playing since my season ended only recently, but the desire to continue my career in the U.S. remains strong,” the 40-year-old Saito said at Narita airport upon his arrival from the United States. “Retirement is not an option.”

Saito had a 2-3 record with a save and a 2.83 ERA in 56 appearances for the Braves in his fifth season in the majors.

He replaced injured closer Billy Wagner on the playoff roster before Game 3 of the NL Division Series but did not pitch in the postseason as the Braves were eliminated by the San Francisco Giants in four games.

“I’m not satisfied with what I did this past season,” the right-hander said. “I’ll try to condition my body and get ready for next season.”