NEW YORK – The waiting began Wednesday for teams that bid for Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

His Japanese club, the Pacific League’s Seibu Lions, was expected to announce as early as Thursday whether it will accept the high bid for the 26-year-old right-hander.

The New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers were thought to be among the teams that bid for Matsuzaka, but the major league commissioner’s office instructed teams not to comment publicly, several clubs said.

The Yankees’ involvement was confirmed by a baseball official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the directive. Prior to the directive, the Rangers had said they planned to bid.

The major league commissioner’s office, which opened the bidding last Thursday, informed the Japanese commissioner’s office of the amount of the highest bid, but not the club that made the offer. The team and the amount will be revealed only if the Lions accept the offer.

Seibu has until Tuesday to make its decision. When outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was posted by the Orix BlueWave in November 2000, the BlueWave announced the day after bidding closed that it accepted an offer of $13,125,000, and the U.S. commissioner’s office revealed a few hours later that the Seattle Mariners had the winning bid. Suzuki agreed a few weeks later to a $14 million, three-year contract.

Once an offer is accepted, the major league team has 30 days to agree to a contract with Matsuzaka, who is represented by agent Scott Boras. The bid is paid only if a contract is agreed upon.

Matsuzaka, MVP of the World Baseball Classic in March, was 17-5 with a 2.13 ERA and 200 strikeouts for the Lions this year. He throws in the high-90s mph, has good off-speed pitches and is known for his deceptive “gyroball.”

Bidding closes Friday for Akinori Iwamura, a third baseman with the Central League’s Yakult Swallows.

Indians get Barfield from Padres

CLEVELAND – Not wanting to risk striking out in free agency, the Cleveland Indians found an everyday second baseman the conventional way, acquiring Josh Barfield in a trade with the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.

The Indians sent infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff, their minor league player of the year, and right-hander Andrew Brown to San Diego for the 23-year-old Barfield, who played in 150 games as a rookie last season. Barfield batted .280 with 32 doubles, 13 homers and 58 RBIs in helping the Padres win the NL West. The son of former AL home run champion Jesse Barfield also had 21 steals and scored 72 times.

In addition, Barfield’s .987 fielding percentage – he had nine errors in 684 total chances – was third best among NL second basemen.

Padres hire Angels’ Black as manager

SAN DIEGO – Angels pitching coach Bud Black was hired Wednesday to replace Bruce Bochy as the manager of the San Diego Padres, a baseball official said.

Black will be introduced at the team’s awards banquet Thursday night, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

because an official announcement hadn’t been made.

Black, who lives outside San Diego, has been the Angels’ pitching coach for the last seven seasons. He played at San Diego State with Tony Gwynn and pitched in the big leagues for 15 seasons, helping the Kansas City Royals win the 1985 World Series.

Dusty Baker, considered the leading candidate, said he was told Wednesday morning that he didn’t get the job.

“Life’s full of disappointments some time and you have to deal with them,” Baker said.

Baker, who managed the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs, said he heard that Black “probably” was getting the job.

“Blackie’s one of my favorite people,” Baker said. “He’s a good baseball person and just a good person.”

Black’s hiring was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Web site.

Bochy managed the Padres to consecutive NL West titles for the first time in club history, but wasn’t offered a contract extension beyond 2007. With a year left on his Padres deal, he accepted a three-year contract with San Francisco late last month.

AP-ES-11-08-06 1550EST



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