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Report: Japanese ace Irabu says he doesn’t want to pitch for Padres

January 24, 1997

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu says he wants to play in the major leagues, but not for the San Diego Padres.

``I have absolutely no desire to conclude a contract with San Diego,″ Irabu said today at Narita Airport outside Tokyo.

Earlier this month, the Padres acquired negotiating rights to the 27-year-old pitcher from the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Irabu, 12-6 with a 2.40 ERA last season for the Chiba Lotte, said he still hopes to play for the New York Yankees.

``My first pick is the Yankees,″ said Irabu, who returned to Japan from a honeymoon overseas. ``All I can say for now is that I have told this to my agent and that there has been no change in my wishes.″

Yoshiaki Kanai, secretary general of the Japanese baseball commissioner’s office, said that since San Diego has the sole rights to negotiate with Irabu, he can’t talk with any other major league teams.

``It’s for the Chiba Lotte Marines to decide,″ Kanai said.

On Wednesday, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said Irabu should be a free agent able to negotiate with any major league team.

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