Tumbling Dice-K

Matsuzaka to call it quits this year

Daisuke Matsuzaka, a Japan Series and World Series winner, and the signer of the first mega posting deal out of Japan when he moved to the Boston Red Sox in 2007, has decided to make this season his last, multiple news outlets in Japan reported early Tuesday morning.

The right-hander, who rose to fame at Japan’s iconic spring and summer high school championships at Koshien Stadium, saw his name attached to a generation of Japanese players from the high school graduating class of 1999.

In 2020, his sixth season back in Japan after nine in the United States, Matsuzaka rejoined his first pro team, the Pacific League’s Seibu Lions. Unfortunately, his first year back as a Lion was troubled by neck pain and numbness in his pitching hand and led to him having neck surgery last July.

According to the reports, he has been unable to recover his pitching form since returning from surgery, and this led to his decision to call it quits.

After finishing in the States in one-plus seasons with the New York Mets, Matsuzaka was lured back to Japan by the big-spending SoftBank Hawks in 2015. In three years, however, he only pitched once on the first team.

He was released after the 2017 season, but apparently, the Hawks had done so with the hope of re-signing him, because when he went looking for a new team, he was shunned by every club but the Central League’s Chunichi Dragons, who have a history of trying out players who’ve been blacklisted by their former clubs that no other teams will even talk to.

In 2018, Matsuzaka won six games due to an uncanny ability to pitch out of jams and won the Comeback Player of the Year Award. His 2019 season, however, was marred by a bizarre series of events, in which his shoulder was injured while receiving an overzealous high-five from a fan at a spring training meet and greet, and being punished for playing golf while on a rehab assignment.

Awards and records

  • Pitching wins leader: PL (3), 1999-2002
  • ERA leader: PL (2), 2003, 2004
  • Strikeouts leader: PL (4) 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005
  • Complete games leader: PL (4) 2001, 2004-2006
  • Sawamura Award: 2001
  • Rookie of the Year: 1999
  • Best Nine: (3) 1999-2001
  • Golden Glove: (7) 1999-2001, 2003-2006

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