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Seibu Lions ace right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka has given up on his plan to pursue a career in the major leagues and will remain with Seibu next season, baseball sources said Monday.

Matsuzaka had 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.

But the 25-year-old accepted Seibu’s request to stay with the Pacific League club after holding talks with top officials in Tokyo and said he will wait until he becomes eligible for free agency after the 2008 season.

“Until I am able to become a free agent I will just try to stay free of injuries and do my best,” said Matsuzaka.

On Thursday, team representative Akira Kuroiwa told Matsuzaka that he was a “symbol” of the Seibu group and should continue as an important member of the Lions next season, although he understood the player’s wish to put himself in a more challenging situation.

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.

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