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Kobayashi becomes free agent

CHIBA (Kyodo) Chiba Lotte Marines closer Hiroyuki Kobayashi filed for free agency on Thursday, announcing that he will try to sign with a major league ballclub this winter.

“I have a dream, and I want to try to realize it,” the 32-year-old Kobayashi said during a news conference at Chiba Marine Stadium.

Kobayashi said he whet his appetite for the majors in 2004, when he played in the exhibition series against a big-league select team in Japan.

“I thought then they play the game on a much larger scale,” Kobayashi said. “I want to face hitters who play in that kind of league.”

Kobayashi had a 2.21 ERA with 29 saves in his first year as closer for the Japan Series champions this season. He has a 74-69 career record with a 3.54 ERA over 11 seasons, all with the Marines.