- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

1:30 p.m.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — The Boston Red Sox want Daisuke Matsuzaka to be a guest on the plane of team owner John Henry.

“It’s here in Southern California, and it will leave on Wednesday morning,” general manager Theo Epstein said last night. “We hope Matsuzaka-san will be on it so that we can complete the physical in Boston in time to get a contract done.”

Epstein and team President Larry Lucchino traveled to California yesterday in a final attempt to sign Matsuzaka, and the pair planned to meet today with the Japanese pitcher and his agent, Scott Boras.

“We’re on Scott Boras’ doorstep because he hasn’t negotiated with us thus far, and we’re taking the fight directly to him, the fight to have a negotiation here,” Henry said.

The deadline for Boston to reach an agreement with Matsuzaka is midnight Thursday, but because the Red Sox insist that the pitcher have a physical before there is a deal, the team says Matsuzaka must travel to Boston tomorrow morning in time to have the necessary medical tests.

Boras yesterday held a news conference at his office about 45 miles south of Los Angeles.

“Free-agent pitchers who are 26 and have Matsuzaka-like ability receive salaries in excess of $100 million over five or six years in free agency,” he said.

The Red Sox submitted a high bid of $51.1 million last month for Matsuzaka, giving them exclusive rights to negotiate with him for 30 days. The Red Sox pay the bid fee to his Japanese team, the Seibu Lions, only if there is an agreement. If there is no deal, the rights for the 26-year-old right-hander revert to the Lions, and he can’t be put up for bid again until next November.

Under Japanese rules, Matsuzaka isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2008 season.

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