The Chiba Lotte Marines announced that they will not attempt to sign Shunsuke Watanabe (37) to a contact next year. They have provided the following statement from the veteran right-hander:
I will be attempting to make it to the Major Leagues. I am thirty-seven so this will be a difficult attempt, but I have prepared myself for the worst and will give this a shot. It would make me happy if everyone can watch over me warmly in my endeavors. Since I was selected in the 2000 draft, for thirteen years fans called out "Shunsuke" each time I took the mound. I will never forget those moments. Even once I make to America, I will take the mound with memories of pitching in the midst of the cheering Chiba Lotte Marine fans. I will remember your cheers and will pitch with confidence. Lastly, to the Chiba Lotte Marine fans, to various personnel, to those that helped me along the way, thank you very much. I will do my best.
Watanabe spoke to team officials after the season and told them about his desire to play in the Majors. The Marines decided to support him by allowing him to become a free agent.
Source: official announcement, Daily Sports 11/4/2013
UPDATE 11/5 @ 12:10am -
Sports Hochi has posted portions of the press conference he held at QVC Marine on Monday.
What made you decide to try for the Majors?
Do not really know. It just sort of came to be, all of a sudden.
What about your family?
They were surprised. My wife told me that it was ok for me to follow my dreams because I worked hard [for the family].
On being a submarine pitcher.
There are a number of submarine pitchers in the majors and I used them as a frame of reference. I some times imagined their success as mine.
I want to prepare myself so that I can go anywhere and do anything a team might ask of me.
Anything for the Lotte fans?
They called out "Shunsuke" each time I took the mound. I will never forget that feeling. Thank you for all your support. I really appreciate it.
Source: Sports Hochi 11/4/2013
UPDATE 11/5 @ 9:15pm -
Watanabe will be represented by Don Nomura. The veteran is apparently open to minor league deals and spring invites, so long as there is even a small chance to pitch in the Majors.
Source: Sponichi 11/5/2013