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Matsui Declines to Play for Japan in World Baseball Classic

New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui has decided not to play for Japan in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March.

Matsui has told Japan's manager, Sadaharu Oh, that he will miss the 16-nation tournament. Matsui said he worried that he would be neglecting either the Yankees or Japan by trying to play on both teams.

Matsui signed a new four-year, $52 million contract with the Yankees last month, following his stellar 2005 season - batting .305 with 23 home runs and a career-high 116 runs batted in.

The 16 nations in the World Baseball Classic will be divided into four round-robin pools. Japan is in Pool A with South Korea, China and Taiwan, and will play the opening round in Tokyo March 3-6.

Other games will be played in the United States and Puerto Rico with mostly professional players from North America, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.