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Fighters may honor Darvish’s wish

Kyodo

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters owner Hiroji Okoso on Thursday indicated his readiness to respect Yu Darvish’s decision if the ace wants to pitch in the major leagues in the near future.

“I can’t say anything because the season isn’t over yet,” Okoso said when asked to discuss Darvish’s future.

“We’ll definitely need him next year, but if he wants to play at a higher level . . .”

An increasing number of major league scouts are in Japan to follow the 25-year-old right-hander this year.

Darvish will not be eligible for free agency at least until 2014, so he needs to use the posting system once he decides to test the major league waters before that.

Darvish is tied for the Japanese baseball lead with a career-high 17 wins, against six losses, this season. He also leads both leagues with 261 strikeouts over 223 innings.