Matsuzaka to sit out MLB exhibition tour in Japan

TOKYO -- Japanese star pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka will sit
out next month's Major League Baseball exhibition tour of Japan.

Matsuzaka, expected to sign with a major league team in the
offseason, wants to focus on his conditioning, tour organizers said
Friday. He has drawn interest from several major league teams,
including the New York Yankees, after finishing the 2006 season
with a career-best 17-5 record.

The 26-year-old right-hander posted a 2.13 ERA and 200
strikeouts for the Seibu Lions this season. Matsuzaka impressed
major league scouts when he helped Japan win the inaugural World
Baseball Classic title last March and was named MVP of the

Kazumi Saito, who won 18 games for the SoftBank Hawks this
season, is among the leading candidates to replace Matsuzaka.