Red Sox

Koji Uehara shows love for Dice-K as ex-Red Sox pitcher retires

Red Sox

Daisuke Matsuzaka's long and winding baseball journey is finally ending.

Yes, it was still going: The former Boston Red Sox pitcher signed a one-year contract in December to play for the Saitama Seibu Lions in the Pacific League of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball at age 40.

But the Lions announced Tuesday that Matsuzaka will retire following the 2021 season, as he's reportedly experiencing numbness in his pitching hand, according to the Japan Times.

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Matsuzaka was already a pitching legend in Japan when the Red Sox paid an exorbitant $51.1 million for his bidding rights and signed him to a six-year, $52 million contract prior to the 2007 season.

While "Dice-K" didn't quite live up to the massive hype, he still pitched six solid seasons in Boston and helped the team win a World Series in his first year. He also paved the way for Japanese hurlers like Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, who both left Japan to pursue Major League Baseball careers and landed on the Red Sox.

Uehara gave Matsuzaka a heartfelt shout-out Tuesday night on Instagram amid news of his pending retirement.

Some of Uehara's message might be lost in translation, but the former Red Sox reliever clearly respects Matsuzaka, who is one of the most famous baseball players in Japanese history.

Uehara came to Boston in 2013 -- one year after Matsuzaka left the team -- and like Matsuzaka helped the Red Sox win a World Series in his first season as an excellent setup man-turned-closer.

 

The 46-year-old Uehara is actually older than Dice-K but retired in 2019 while playing for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.