Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Lions bring back Kazuo Matsui after 15 years

Kyodo

The Seibu Lions confirmed Friday they have acquired former major league player Kazuo Matsui, who started his professional career with the club.

The 42-year-old outfielder, who was not offered a new contract by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, will return to Seibu 15 seasons after leaving the club and will have both playing and coaching duties in his 17th year in NPB.

“I felt strongly about continuing my playing career. I know the competition will be tough but I’ll get more motivated playing against younger players,” Matsui said.

He added: “When I left here as a free agent, I thought I’d never be able to put on this uniform one more time. I got goose bumps. My only thought is one of gratitude. Fifteen years is ages ago, like olden times, so I think some fans won’t know me, but I really want to show those fans who supported me long ago what I can do.”

A four-time Golden Glove winner, Matsui joined Seibu in 1995 and was named the PL MVP in 1998. He led the league in stolen bases three times and in hits twice while playing as the Lions shortstop through the 2003 season.

He moved to the majors in 2004 and played for the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros, before coming back to Japan and signing with Rakuten in 2011.