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Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012

Nakajima stays hopeful of future chances to play in bigs

Kyodo

TOKOROZAWA, Saitama Pref. — Seibu Lions captain Hiroyuki Nakajima said Tuesday that he plans to take another shot at playing in the majors next offseason, this time as a free agent.

"I've moved on," Nakajima said, after re-signing with the Lions for ¥280 million plus incentives. "It is what is. There's nothing I can do anymore.

"If the opportunity comes around again, I want to take it. It just wasn't meant to be this time."

Nakajima had been posted by the Lions, but the New York Yankees, who entered a winning bid of $2.5 million for the exclusive rights to negotiate with the shortstop, broke off talks ahead of the deadline on Thursday.

He is the second player to have not signed during the 30-day negotiating period.

Former Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who signed a one-year free-agent deal with the Seattle Mariners this winter, was the first, failing to strike a deal with the Oakland Athletics last year.

Nakajima said the Yankees were essentially not giving him a chance to win a starting job, considering him only as backup to infielders Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez not just for this season, but even beyond.

The 29-year-old Nakajima, who qualifies for free agency later this year, knew talks were always going to be difficult but felt the Yankees were far too unilateral in their approach.

"I'd been told all along the terms and conditions of the deal weren't going to be great, so when it fell apart I was like, 'Oh.' I didn't think too much of it," said Nakajima, a career .302 hitter in 10 seasons with the Lions.

"I didn't really care how much I got paid, but it was the little things. I could live with being a backup for a year because I know I could have learned a lot, but they wanted everything on their terms even beyond one season.

"My agent told me that if this is all I was getting, I'd be better off waiting a year and then talk to more than one team."

Asked if he thought the existing posting system is flawed, Nakajima said, "It's tough to say because I didn't handle the actual negotiations, but I'd probably say the player is at somewhat of a disadvantage."



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