Matsuzaka returns to Japan to pitch for Softbank

FUKUOKA, Japan (AP) Daisuke Matsuzaka has signed a contract with the Softbank Hawks of Japan's Pacific League after eight years in Major League Baseball.

The 34-year-old right-hander, who went 3-3 with 78 strikeouts and a 3.89 ERA for the New York Mets in 2014, led the Pacific League in wins three times with the Seibu Lions before signing a six-year, $52 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2006.

''This is a very solid team,'' Matsuzaka said at a press conference. ''I remember from my days pitching in Japan how difficult they were to face. It should be a very enjoyable team to pitch for.''

Terms of Matsuzaka's deal were not released.

In his first season in the majors. Matsuzaka helped Boston win the World Series in 2007. His best season was 2008, when he went 18-3 with 154 strikeouts and a 2.90 ERA but he didn't live up to expectations after that.

The Hawks won the Japan Series in 2014 and are among the more successful teams in Nippon Professional Baseball.

''As we look to win the championship again, we think he can make a major contribution,'' said Softbank chairman Sadaharu Oh.

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