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Hisanori Takahashi to exercise international FA option, wants to play alongside Matsui

by on Nov.17, 2009 @ 11:31 am, under NPB

Looks like Hisanori Takahashi will test the MLB waters.

According a both Sponichi and Nikkan Sports, Takahashi will be making an announcement later today that he'll be exercising his international FA option.

The Giants met with Takahashi twice after the Nippon Series, including twice over the phone, asking him to stay.  But in the end, Takashi's desire to move forward towards his lifelong dream won out.

"I suddenly want to see what it's like to play baseball with other teams or other countries after turning 30," said Takahashi.

Seeing Hideki Matsui do so well in this year's World Series may have also pushed Takahashi along with his decision.

Year Team G W L S CG BF IP H HR BB HBP SO WP BK R ER ERA WHIP
2000 Yomiuri 24 9 6 0 3 563 135.2 133 10 36 2 102 1 0 59 48 3.18 1.25
2001 Yomiuri 30 9 9 0 3 584 134.2 126 20 52 3 99 4 0 65 59 3.94 1.32
2002 Yomiuri 24 10 4 0 2 669 163.1 143 16 39 6 145 4 1 58 56 3.09 1.11
2003 Yomiuri 13 4 4 0 3 364 86.2 79 14 27 4 78 1 1 42 37 3.84 1.22
2004 Yomiuri 16 5 10 0 3 402 91.0 107 18 26 3 61 3 0 59 55 5.44 1.46
2005 Yomiuri 27 8 12 0 4 695 163.0 171 18 48 4 135 1 0 88 81 4.47 1.34
2006 Yomiuri 35 2 6 15 0 266 62.0 70 10 15 1 51 1 0 36 34 4.94 1.37
2007 Yomiuri 28 14 4 0 2 764 186.2 168 21 50 2 141 1 0 63 57 2.75 1.17
2008 Yomiuri 23 8 5 0 0 518 122.0 127 16 30 5 94 2 0 63 56 4.13 1.29
2009 Yomiuri 25 10 6 0 1 610 144.0 147 16 36 6 126 0 2 58 47 2.94 1.27
Totals 245 79 66 15 21 5435 1289.0 1271 159 359 36 1032 18 4 591 530 3.70 1.26

=== UPDATE 12:28PM JST

It's official.

"I decided I wanted to try out for the Majors 3 days ago," said Takahashi.  "Watching Uehara pitchreally pushed my dreams of wanting to pitch in the Majors.  If I didn't have confidence in myself, I wouldn't have made the decision.  I want to go to a team that needs me.  I'd be extremely happy if I'm used as a starter."

=== UPDATE 4:48PM JST

For those wondering, Takahashi made  135M yen (about $US1.5M) this past season.

And a Takahashi's press conference interview via Sanspo:

Any plans for signing on with another NPB team?

I'm not thinking about other NPB teams at all.  I can't imagine myself pitching against the Giants.

Your reasons for wanting to tryout for the Majors?

It's a dream I have.  And I'd like to attain that dream.  Seeing Uehara in the Majors, that made me want to go to the Majors even more.  I want to return to the days of being a rookie and take on this new challenge.

When did you decide?

About 2-3 days ago.  I only had about a week and I was unsure until then.  My wife helped push me in the right direction when she suggested I give it a try.

What about Hara?

I asked for advice from Hara and also told him my decision.  He said that he would support me if that was my decision.  As for my teammates, I told Toyoda, Fujita, and Ogaswara yesterday (11/16).

What about Uehara?

I haven't told him anything yet.  I want to solidify things a bit more before I do.  I also want to talk to Matsui too.

What about the ball club?

I've spoke to the club after the Nippon Series and even received a good offer from them.  But my mind is set on the Majors right now.  I'm grateful to the Giants for understanding my decision.

Your memories with the Giants?

I have too many to name just one.  I guess pitching in a number of games at the Nippon Series is high on my list.

Any specific [MLB] teams you're interested in?

Any team that needs me.  Being able to start would be a plus as well.

Uncertainty and hope, which is stronger?

I'm filled with uncertainty right now.  But I also wouldn't have made this decision if I didn't have any confidence [in myself].

When did you seriously start thinking about the Majors?

Since about 3 years ago.  When Matsui first left the team, I thought it was just a faraway dream, but over the last 3 years or so, my numbers have been pretty good and I think I know myself better now.  I think I'll be best used as a starter.

Any player you'd like to pitch against?

I have a lot of memories with Matsui so I'd like to pitch against him.

=== UPDATE 11/18/2009 12:54pm JST

Takahashi apparently also mentioned that he'd like to play alongside Hideki Matsui.

"I have a lot of memories with Matsui.  I'd be happiest if I can play with him."