Kikuchi leaves for U.S.

Seibu Lions left Yusei Kikuchi left Narita Airport outside Tokyo on Sunday, boarding a flight bound for the United States, where he hopes to conclude a contract with a major league team.

“I’m looking forward to this,” the 27-year-old told reporters. “After playing nine seasons for the Lions, I have this sensation that my time has finally come.”

“I want to enjoy every part of the process.”

Kikuchi has said he’s open to playing for any club, and this past week at baseball’s winter meetings, his agent, Scott Boras, described the interest in Kikuchi as “intense.”

“I want to prioritize those things that will enable me to perform my best,” he said.

According to Boras, Kikuchi has already undergone his physical and now will be working out and meeting with interested teams. He has until 5 pm Eastern Time on Jan. 2 to conclude a contract. If he fails to do that, Kikuchi will rejoin Seibu for the 2019 season.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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