Seibu Lions ace right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka made a fresh request to his team Thursday to let him pursue a career in the major leagues next year, but the answer was “no” again.

News photoDaisuke Matsuzaka

Team representative Akira Kuroiwa said he told Matsuzaka that the 25-year-old is a “symbol” of the Seibu group and should continue as an important member of the Lions next season, although his wish to put himself in a more challenging situation is understandable.

Matsuzaka has asked Seibu to allow him to switch to the majors via the so-called posting system, in which major league teams present sealed bids for Japanese players, since he will become eligible for free agency after the 2008 season at the earliest.

After the 2004 season, Seibu suggested it would give Matsuzaka a chance to ply his trade in the majors through the posting system on condition that he perform well enough to make his case this year.

This year, Matsuzaka was 14-13 with a 2.30 ERA, third in the Pacific League, in 28 games. He led the league with 226 strikeouts, 15 complete games, three shutouts and 215 innings pitched.

The numbers, which came one year after Matsuzaka posted a 10-6 record with a 2.90 ERA and 127 strikeouts, apparently failed to convince Seibu front-office officials.

“I’ve been preparing for many years to play in the majors and I’ve got this strong feeling that things have finally fallen into place,” Matsuzaka said. “I need to talk more. Hopefully, things will go in the right direction for me as a result.”

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