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Japan's former MLB stars want to return home



TOKYO (AP) Daisuke Matsuzaka says he still has something to prove.

Koji Uehara wants to help his former team to regain its former glory.

The two former Major Leaguers are among some of the Japanese celebrities to look around

Following a stinking stint last season at the Softbank Hawks of the Pacific League, the 37-year-old has Matsuzaka Signed with the Chunichi Dragons of the Central League

"Because I have not been able to pitch in the last few years, I really want to show that I can pitch and be fit," Matsuzaka said of a 2007 career Matsuzaka prepares for his 20th professional season

Matsuzaka returned in 201

5 from the majors back surgery of the right shoulder tha t year and just made an appearance for the Hawks of 2015-17.

In his last showgame, he gave up three runs on six hits in a loss of 6-3 for the Lotte Marines. But he has shown lightning from his previous dominance, and Chunichi fans hope he can contribute to a team that finished last season's playoffs.

Uehara signed with his former team the Yomiuri Giants. The 42-year-old right-back spent nine seasons in the MLB collecting 95 saves and a 2.66 ERA. He played with Cubs last season.

Before joining the majors, where he helped the Red Sox win the 2013 World Series, Uehara was the ace of the Giants pitching staff and led the team to the championship in 2000 and 2002

since his departure The Giants had difficulty preserving their reputation as Japan's oldest and most successful squad.

They missed the playoffs last season and were shaken by a series of embarrassing scandals from the field.

In 2015, it was discovered that three Yomiuri bowlers play professional baseball games with underworld bookmakers.

"I want to do my best to contribute to the winnings that lead us to a championship," Uehara told reporters. "Other Japanese clubs were interested, but the Giants had the most positive approach, and I'm grateful."

While some former Japanese grandmasters from Japan missed the chance to return to Nippon Professional Baseball, others have returned successfully

Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome is now in his sixth season with the Hanshin Tigers after five seasons in the majors with the Chicago Cubs The Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox

Tadahito Iguchi, who won a World Series with the White Sox, begins his first season as coach of Chiba Lotte after completing his playing career with the Marines.

Elsewhere, outfielder Norichika Aoki has returned to his former team the Yakult Swallows.

The 36-year-old played for Yakult from 2004 to 2011, when he won the Central League title three times before moving to the majors after the 2011 season

Aoki began his Major League career in 2012 at the Milwaukee Brewers, a also starred for the Kansas City Royals, the San Francisco Giants, the Seattle Mariners, the Houston Astros, the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets.

Over six years in the majors, he had a strike average of .285 with 774 hits and 98 stolen bases in 758 games.

"I love this team to greet me back and will do anything to help them win," said Aoki.

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