TOKYO (AP) -- Godzilla. The nickname is perfect for Hideki Matsui.
The Japanese slugger has enormous arms and a monstrous swing that will make him a coveted free agent when he begins shopping his services to major league teams this offseason.
Japan's most popular player sent shockwaves through the country's baseball scene last week when he declared his intention to leave the Yomiuri Giants and pursue a career in the majors. The New York Yankees are among the teams interested.
"My personal desire to go over there and play never went away," Matsui said after helping the Giants win the Japan Series.
The star outfielder will make his farewell tour of Japan beginning Sunday, when he and other Japanese players open a seven-game series against a group of major league all-stars, including Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Matsui's countryman, Ichiro Suzuki.
While most Japanese batters hit for contact, slapping the ball all over the field, Matsui prefers to keep his meaty arms back and use his tremendous bat speed to drive the ball for power.
The results are impressive. During several games this season, Matsui's towering fly balls have been lost in the roofing of Tokyo Dome. His homers ricochet off giant advertisements above the outfield bleachers.
"I think homers are my best trait, and I look forward to hitting them over there too," he said.
At Tokyo Dome, fans chant "home run, home run Matsui" every time the 6-foot-2, 207-pound player comes to the plate. In 10 seasons with the Giants, Matsui (pronounced Mat-SU-ee) hit 332 homers, including 50 this season.
It's not hard to imagine the left-hander in pinstripes, driving the ball over the short right-field fence at Yankee Stadium.
No matter which team signs him, Matsui will become the first Japanese slugger to play in the majors. Neither Suzuki, Tsuyoshi Shinjo of the San Francisco Giants nor So Taguchi of the St. Louis Cardinals can match Matsui's power.
The 28-year-old Matsui was in the spotlight even before turning pro in 1993. In Japan's national high school baseball championship, Matsui was intentionally walked in five straight at-bats after hitting three consecutive homers in his previous game.
After his last at-bat, he stood on first base with tears streaming down his face. Many in Japanese baseball came to Matsui's defense, calling the walks a travesty.
He signed with the Giants in 1993, but Matsui's breakout season was 1996, when he had 38 homers and 99 RBIs and hit .314. He won the first of his three Central League MVP awards that season.
His departure is a big blow to Japanese baseball. Losing Suzuki was bad enough, but Matsui plays in the rival Central League, and he was by far the biggest attraction in either the Central or the Pacific League.
Yomiuri owner Tsuneo Watanabe, who has been critical of Japanese players going to the majors, reluctantly accepted the departure of his star player.
His Yomiuri teammates view it with mixed feelings.
"I envy him," said veteran pitcher Kimiyasu Kudo, who also once considered a move to the majors. "It will be interesting to see how he does over there."
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