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Darvish will not play for Japan at Baseball Classic

Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish throws against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of their MLB American League Wild Card playoff bas
Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish throws against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of their MLB American League Wild Card playoff bas

(Reuters) - Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish will not play for Japan in the World Baseball Classic next year, saying on Tuesday he wants to focus on winning a World Series.

"After much deliberation, which has included a lot of consultation with my coaches and trainers, I have decided that I will not play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic," Darvish said in a statement.

"This was a very difficult decision for me as it is always a tremendous honor to represent my native country of Japan.

"I greatly enjoyed being a part of the 2009 Championship ball club and I will be supporting this year's team as they look to defend their title."

Darvish was a key member of the Japan squad that won the 2009 Baseball Classic, recording the victory over South Korea in the championship game while closing out the semi-final victory over the United States.

After seven seasons starring in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters, the hard-throwing right-hander made the jump to the Major Leagues last season and finished an impressive rookie campaign with a record of 16-9, 221 strikeouts and 3.90 ERA in 29 starts.

"Given my substantial workload over the last few seasons and the numerous changes I've endured in my move to the United States, I have decided with my team of advisers that getting ample rest is the most important thing for me right now as I prepare for the 2013 season," said Darvish.

"My ultimate goal is to help win a World Series with the Texas Rangers and to share that accomplishment with the great baseball fans in Japan."

The 2013 World Baseball Classic will be played from March 2-19 at several venues across the United States with pool matches also being staged in Japan, Taiwan and Puerto Rico.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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