Red Sox

Daisuke Matsuzaka surprised by Ichiro Suzuki during retirement ceremony

The former Red Sox pitcher called it a career after playing 23 seasons of professional baseball.

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched with the Red Sox for six seasons. (Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis)

Former Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka has called it a career.

Matsuzaka, 41, officially retired from baseball on Saturday with the Saitama Seibu Lions, the team he pitched for during the 2021 season and for the first eight years of his professional career, holding a ceremony to honor him.

During the ceremony at the MetLife Dome, a video from baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki played. At the conclusion of the video, Suzuki surprised Matsuzaka on the field, presenting him with a bouquet of flowers. Matsuzaka appeared emotional during the moment, bowing to Suzuki before the latter left the field.

“I hadn’t imagined this. It was crazy,” Matsuzaka said of the moment, according to Kyodo News. “At first I was able to hold up, and then the tears came and I was done for.

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“I was surprised and just overjoyed that, at the end, Ichiro-san came to see me. I’m happy I was able to come so far.”

Matsuzaka and Suzuki’s relationship goes back over a decade as the two were teammates on the Japan teams that won the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009.

Matsuzaka shared he would retire at the end of the season back in July. He reportedly had no sensation in the fingers on his right hand after he had cervical spine surgery in 2020.

“I’m content that I was able to keep playing baseball until I could no longer throw normally in the end,” Matsuzaka said, according to Kyodo News.

After spending the first eight years of his professional career in Japan, Matsuzaka joined the Red Sox prior to the 2007 season. Boston placed a $51,111,111.11 bid in the posting system to just negotiate a contract with the Japanese sensation. After some trouble during the negotiation process, both sides eventually agreed to a six-year, $52 million contract.

Matsuzaka’s arrival came with a lot of fanfare and media from Japan. He had a solid rookie season, going 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA, finishing in fourth place in Rookie of the Year voting as the Red Sox would go on to win the World Series that year.

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Matsuzaka was even better his second season, going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA that helped him finish third in Cy Young voting. But his time in Boston took a downturn after that as he went 17-22 in his final four seasons with the Red Sox.

After playing two seasons with the Mets, Matsuzaka went back to Japan in 2015. In 2018, while pitching with the Chunichi Dragons, Matsuzaka earned All-Star honors and was named the Nippon Professional Baseball Comeback Player of the Year.

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