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Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who helped Japan to the inaugural World Baseball Classic title in 2006, said Thursday he is willing to play for the defending champion next March.

“I’ll accept the offer once I’m asked to play,” Matsuzaka said after arriving at Narita airport following an impressing major league season that saw him post an 18-3 record with a 2.90 earned run average in 29 starts.

“I’ll pick up the pace of my training in December so that I won’t have to scramble in the last minute (for the WBC),” said the former Seibu Lions ace, who was named the MVP of the 2006 tournament after compiling a 3-0 record and a 1.38 ERA. One of his wins came in the final against Cuba.

Matsuzaka added he has a good impression about Tatsunori Hara, the Yomiuri Giants manager who will steer Japan at next year’s WBC.

“We have only exchanged greetings and haven’t talked much. Yet it’s clear to me that he looks upbeat and loves baseball. I think he’s a passionate man.”

Looking back to his second year in the majors, Matsuzaka said he learned further lessons but all in all it turned out to be a good season.

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