• Kyodo


Hideki Matsui left Japan on Thursday for New York for the official signing of a three-year, $21 million free-agent deal with the New York Yankees.

News photoJapanese baseball star Hideki Matsui smiles at a news conference at Narita airport prior to leaving for New York to sign with the Yankees.

Matsui, who departed from Narita airport, said he was excited but jittery to kick off a career in the major leagues and don the celebrated Bronx Bomber pinstripes.

“I’ve always gone (to the United States) as a tourist but this time my attitude is completely different because I’m going to play baseball,” Matsui said.

“I’m looking forward to putting my arms through the sleeves of a Yankee uniform for the first time. I have a lot of anxiety but I want to do my best,” he added.

Matsui is scheduled to undergo a physical examination Friday before the Yankees introduce the slugging outfielder at a press conference Tuesday following the signing of the deal earlier in the day.

The Yankees announced an agreement with Matsui on Dec. 20 after five major-league teams, which also included the New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers, moved to acquire the three-time Central League Most Valuable Player.

Matsui became a free agent to pursue a career in the major leagues after 10 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants. He led the Tokyo club to the CL and Japan Series titles in 2002 with 50 homers and 107 RBIs — both league highs.

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