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Japanese Slugger Ponders Future

October 31, 2002

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TOKYO (AP) _ Hideki Matsui, finally eligible to become a free agent, hasn’t decided whether to play in the major leagues next year or remain with the Yomiuri Giants.

``I love the Giants _ I’ve been under their care for over the past 10 years,″ Matsui said Thursday. ``As a starting point, I will decide on a course that avoids troubling anyone.″

Matsui, 28, joined the Giants in 1993 and is eligible for free agency because he has nine years of service. The New York Yankees sent their assistant general manager to scout him earlier this year.

``Whichever conclusion he comes to, there will be many people cheering him on,″ Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara said Thursday.

Matsui led the Central League in homers (50) and RBIs (107), and hit .334, second to Kosuke Fukudome of the Chunichi Dragons, who batted .343.

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