• Kyodo


Seibu Lions hard-throwing right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka re-signed with the Pacific League club on Thursday for an annual salary of 200 million yen — a whopping 85 million yen pay raise.

Matsuzaka becomes the third pro baseball player to reach the lucrative salary in his sixth year following Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (then Orix BlueWave) and New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui (then Yomiuri Giants), who were paid 260 million yen and 200 million yen, respectively.

Matsuzaka, 23, matched a career high with 16 wins, including 10 consecutive, against seven losses in 29 mound appearances and won titles for best ERA (2.83) and most number of strikeouts (215).

“I was able to sign the contract with confidence after they told me I did a good job filling in for (Takashi) Ishii and (Fumiya) Nishiguchi. I’m really happy,” said Matsuzaka, adding that he will aim to help Seibu capture the league championship and try to claim the title for winning percentage in 2004.

Mac re-signs

KOBE (Kyodo) Orix BlueWave right-hander Mac Suzuki, whose performance on and off the field in 2003 left much to be desired, re-signed with the Pacific League club on Thursday for an annual salary of 50 million yen.

Suzuki, a former major league pitcher with the Kansas City Royals, received the maximum amount of 15 million yen allowed to Japanese rookies this past season but was apparently given consideration for a boost in salary for 2004 due to his past experience with four teams in the majors.

“I don’t understand what I was doing this year,” said Suzuki, who posted a 4-9 record with a 7.06 ERA in 29 mound appearances this season.

The 28-year-old, who is the only Japanese player to have played in the major leagues without a professional career in Japan, was a big disappointment to Orix and worsened matters when he was ticketed for a drunk driving violation in June this year.

Suzuki, who plans to tune up in the winter league in Mexico during the off-season, said, “I’m really disappointed that I was clobbered so badly (in games). Next season will be a huge challenge year for me.”

Elsewhere, Seibu Lions right-hander Shinji Mori, who won most valuable middle reliever for the second straight year, will return to the Pacific League club for an annual salary of 150 million yen — an increase of 40 million yen.

‘Wave eye Moore

The Associated Press

The Orix BlueWave of Japan’s Pacific League have expressed interest in acquiring former Hanshin Tigers pitcher Trey Moore, team officials said Thursday.

Moore, formerly of the Atlanta Braves, went 10-6 with a 4.35 ERA last season for the Central League champions, who opted not to renew his contract after losing the Japan Series to the Daiei Hawks.

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