Japanese Pitcher Matsuzaka Takes Mound for Last Time

Sports

Tokorozawa, Saitama Pref., Oct. 19 (Jiji Press)--Veteran Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Saitama Seibu Lions, who have also played in the U.S. major leagues, pitched for the last time on Tuesday to end his 23-year professional baseball career.

Matsuzaka, 41, took the mound as a starting pitcher in a game against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters at MetLife Dome in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, wearing his old signature jersey number 18. He walked the only hitter he faced.

Before the game, he expressed his mixed feelings about walking away from baseball. "I was hoping and not hoping for this day to come. I'm glad that I still like baseball," Matsuzaka said at a press conference, shedding tears.

For Matsuzaka, it was his first outing in an official game since returning to the Lions last year. The right-hander underwent cervical spine surgery in July last year, and has since suffered chronic numbness in his right hand and lost sensation in his fingers.

As the ace pitcher, Matsuzaka led Yokohama High School to the national high school baseball championships in the 1998 spring and summer tournaments at Hanshin Koshien Stadium, earning the nickname of "the Monster of Heisei" after the name of the era for 1989-2019 in Japan.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press