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Japan’s Top Hitter Available to MLB

November 2, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Ichiro Suzuki, the 27-year-old Japanese outfielder who hit .387 this year for his seventh straight Pacific League batting title, is available to major league teams.

The Orix BlueWave informed the Japanese commissioner Wednesday that it has made Suzuki available for bids from major league teams.

Major league teams have four business days to submit bids. The commissioner’s office will pick the highest bidder, and the Japanese team will accept or reject the offer.

``All we can do is wait, then give our yes or no,″ said Eiji Onishi, a spokesman for Kobe-based Orix. If the bid is accepted, the U.S. team has 30 days to negotiate a contract.

If a deal cannot be reached, the left-handed hitting outfielder would return to Orix.

Suzuki had 153 hits, 12 home runs and 73 RBIs this year. In his nine-year career, Suzuki has a .353 average with 1,278 hits, 118 home runs and 529 RBIs.

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