New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui has decided not to join Japan’s World Baseball Classic team next March.
“I have decided not to join up with the national squad. I know that it would be ideal to play for both club and country and I understand that (Japan manager) Sadaharu Oh and the fans were hoping I would do that,” Matsui said. “But the reason I decided to go to the United States was to try and become a world champion with the Yankees and I fear that chasing two goals might get in the way of that dream.”
“He wrote saying how important it was to him to try and become a world champion at the Yankees next season,” Oh expressed disappointment. “It’s disappointing but I can understand. It’s up to him to decide. It was not a surprise that he refused since he had been hesitating for such a long time.”
Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and Chicago White Sox infielder Tadahito Iguchi have already decided to join Japanese Team at the WBC.
Matsui, 31, batted a career-best .305 with 23 homers and a career-high 116 RBI in 2005; he also set career-highs in hits (192) and doubles (45). He has never missed a game since entering the majors in 2003. For his first three years in the MLB, he has .297 batting average, 70 homers and 330 RBI.
One stats might influence the decision of Matsui, he only batted .255 (69-for-271) with six home runs and 44 RBIs in April for the pass three season with Yankees.
He just signed a four-year, 52 million contract with Yankees last month, which makes him to become the highest-paid Japanese player in the major leagues, surpassing Ichiro (signed four-year, 44 million-dollar deal in 2003).
Matsui is the second high profile Yankee players decide not to play the WBC in two weeks, joining third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Other Yankees fielders, Derek Jeter (United States), Johnny Damon (United States), Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic) and Bernie Williams (Puerto Rico) have agreed to play.
Catcher Jorge Posada is blocked by Yankees because his age, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina also believed to be restricted, both of them did not list as participating.
Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang also wants to play, and has been working out with the Taiwan team this offseason, according to his agent, Alan Chang. But the Yankees have told baseball officials they have reservations about Wang taking part because of the rotator cuff tear he suffered last July.
Chang said Wang plans to return to the United States next month to continue his workouts in Arizona, where he shares the same trainer as Randy Johnson. “When he reports to Yankees spring training in February, the Yankees medical and training staff will evaluate him and make the appropriate recommendation at that time,” Chang added.