Lotte Marines deputy owner Akio Shigemitsu hinted Tuesday that Bobby Valentine is positive about replacing Koji Yamamoto as the new manager of the Pacific League club next season and is set to come to Japan next month for final talks.
Valentine, who was fired by the New York Mets after the 2002 season because of the team’s poor performance, is still tied to a contract with the Mets which expires at the end of this month.
If Valentine accepts the offer from the Marines, he will be returning to Chiba after a nine-year absence.
“We are still in the middle of negotiations, but it’s true he has given us an agreeable answer. He probably won’t be here till November, though,” Shigemitsu said.
“I don’t think there are other problems to worry about,” he said in reference to reports that several major league clubs are also interested in the 53-year-old.
In 1995, Valentine guided the Marines to second place in the PL but returned to the United States at the end of the season. He then led the Mets to the World Series in 2000 but was fired two days after they finished in last place in the National League East last year.
This year, Valentine has been a commentator for ESPN.
Seibu Lions shortstop Kazuo Matsui is still unsure whether he will make a bid to play in the major leagues — even after traveling to New York to witness an American League Championship Series game between the famed New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
But Matsui, who obtained the right to free agency this season, returned to Japan on Monday noticeably hyped after watching Game 2 of the best-of-seven series, featuring countryman Hideki Matsui with the Bronx club, at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.
“I thought it was necessary for me to travel to the United States in order to make a decision,” Matsui said. “When the time comes, I think this trip will definitely help me in my decision.”
The six-time All Star, who secretly departed for New York on Thursday last week, denied having any contact with his agent while staying in the United States.
“It was a real thrill just to see this matchup between two legendary teams,” the 27-year-old Matsui said.
When asked if his trip had in anyway increased his desire to play in the majors, Matsui said, “I still don’t have any such feeling. I have to really think about that from now.”
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