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Free-agent infielder Kazuo Matsui said Saturday he prefers to play for a major league team either on the East or West coast as both areas would be a comfortable environment for his family.

News photoKazuo Matsui

Matsui, who recently declared free agency from the Seibu Lions and expressed his desire to play in the majors, told reporters in Tokyo he wishes to play in an area where his family will feel secure.

“An environment where my family feels safe and where I can focus on playing is the best. (The East or West coast) are reassuring because there are many Japanese,” the 28-year-old Matsui said.

Matsui, a seven-time All-Star and four-time Golden Glove winner, said he also received word from agent Arn Tellem that 10 major league clubs are interested in acquiring the switch-hitting shortstop.

He did not name any of the clubs but said, “I never thought that 10 clubs would be interested in me.”

The New York Yankees, for whom countryman Hideki Matsui plays, the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers are believed to be among the 10 clubs.

Matsui’s autobiography, entitled “Meija Saishu Heiki (Major League’s Final Weapon),” hit bookstores Saturday. In the book, Matsui writes of his dream to become the world’s No. 1 shortstop.

Lawyer accuses Giants

Kimihito Kato, the lawyer for Yomiuri Giants right-hander Koji Uehara, will send the Central League team a letter accusing the Tokyo-based club of defamation after it refused to recognize his role as agent in recently concluded negotiations.

Kato is infuriated that Yomiuri general manager Hideaki Miyama said he did not recognize Kato’s role as Uehara’s agent in negotiating a 300 million yen deal on Thursday and may resort to legal action against the club.

Specifically, Kato said that Miyama’s explanation that the talks were conducted without the use of him as the agent and that he was actually in agreement with this since their first meeting is ludicrous.

Furthermore, Kato said that Miyama’s comment that both parties had agreed that he was not part of the talks is also false.

Lions release McClain

TOKOROZAWA, Saitama Pref. (Kyodo) The Seibu Lions will not renew the contract of Scott McClain and have decided to release the American infielder, general manager Kenji Ono said Saturday.

The 31-year-old McClain hit 39 homers in his first year in Japan in 2001 and 26 this past season, but disappointed with a .237 average over three years in Japan.

The Lions also revealed they are in search of a shortstop who will be able to fill a void created by Kazuo Matsui, who has announced his intention to play in the major leagues next season.

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