NARITA, Japan – Daisuke Matsuzaka returned to Japan on Monday, four days after agreeing to a contract with the Boston Red Sox.

After completing the deal, Matsuzaka spent some time in Boston and said he was impressed with his new home.

“It’s a great city,” said Matsuzaka. “There’s a great atmosphere there and I’m sure it will be suitable for me and my family.”

Matsuzaka agreed with the Red Sox on a six-year, $52-million contract Thursday, ending a month of contentious negotiations between the Japanese pitcher, his agent Scott Boras and the Red Sox.

“It was mentally draining,” Matsuzaka said. “It was tough. I’m not used to having an agent, and leaving everything up to him was something that was new to me.”

Most players in Japan don’t have agents and contract negotiations are usually held just between the team and the player.

The 26-year-old right-hander will join Curt Schilling in a rotation that includes Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon and Tim Wakefield. The Red Sox also will have another Japanese pitcher, lefty reliever Hideki Okajima, in training camp.

Matsuzaka said he knows the expectations will be high but he is looking forward to playing for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox bid $51.11 million for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka, but they had just 30 days – until midnight Thursday – to sign him to a contract.

At times, it looked like Matsuzaka might be returning to Japan to play for his former team the Seibu Lions.

Matsuzaka flew to Southern California for talks with Boras and the Red Sox last week before flying on to Boston on Wednesday to complete the deal.

“There were times when I thought I’d be heading back to Japan without a deal,” Matsuzaka said. “Fortunately, everything worked out in the end.”

Mariners acquire Vidro from Washington

SEATTLE – Jose Vidro doesn’t mind changing teams, leagues or positions.

The Seattle Mariners acquired Vidro and $4 million from the Washington Nationals for oft-injured outfielder Chris Snelling and right-hander Emiliano Fruto in a deal finalized Monday.

Vidro waived his no-trade clause knowing that he is likely to see most of his time with the Mariners as a designated hitter.

“They need my bat. They need it bad,” Vidro said Monday by telephone from his native Puerto Rico.

Vidro understands Washington views Felipe Lopez as its long-term second baseman and Cristian Guzman, recovered from shoulder surgery, is set to be the Nationals’ shortstop.

Tigers sign Bonderman to new contract

DETROIT – Starting pitcher Jeremy Bonderman and the Detroit Tigers agreed to a $38 million, four-year contract on Monday.

Bonderman, who won 14 games this year and helped Detroit reach the World Series, passed up a chance to become a free agent after the 2008 season. He gets $4.5 million next year, $8.5 million in 2008 and $12.5 million in each of the following two seasons.

A message seeking comment from Bonderman was left with a Tigers spokesman.

The 24-year-old right-hander was 14-8 with a 4.08 ERA last season, when the Tigers finished with their first winning record since 1993 and won their first AL pennant since 1984. He tied for the league lead with 34 starts and was second in strikeouts with 202.

Rose to be honored by Reds Hall of Fame

CINCINNATI – Pete Rose is being honored by a Hall of Fame – the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

The Reds Hall of Fame and Museum called a news conference for Tuesday to announce plans for an exhibit recognizing the achievements of the banned career hits leader.

The Reds said Monday that Rose will be unable to attend because of illness. The team was attempting to arrange a conference call with him.

Rose was banned from the ballot for baseball’s Hall of Fame after he agreed in 1989 to be banned for life for gambling on baseball games. His eligibility for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot ended last year.

Cincinnati inquired with the commissioner’s office to make sure Rose could attend the event. Under the terms of his lifetime ban, he cannot be employed by major league teams and is generally not allowed into areas of ballparks that aren’t accessible to fans.

Radke expected to announce retirement

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota Twins right-hander Brad Radke, who struggled with injuries to his throwing shoulder last season, is expected to announce his retirement at a news conference Tuesday.

He pitched Game 3 of the ALCS against the Oakland Athletics in October with a torn labrum and broken shoulder socket.

The 34-year-old free agent has said he expected it to be his last season.

Neither Radke nor his agent, Ron Simon, returned phone calls Monday from The Associated Press.

A Twins spokesman declined to say what Radke would announce at the news conference. Radke was to be joined by general manager Terry Ryan, manager Ron Gardenhire and team President Dave St. Peter.

Radke has a 148-139 record over 12 seasons.


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