New York Yankees: Hideki Matsui

Brian Cashman, Hideki MatsuiKathy Willens/AP PhotoBrian Cashman sees managerial potential in Hideki Matsui.
TAMPA, Fla.-- In a news conference this morning in the tent at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Brian Cashman introduced Hideki Matsui as his special adviser. Here are eight takeaways.

1. Cashman believes Matsui represents everything he would want in a Yankee and can impart that wisdom on the franchise's next generation.

"We need to continue to evolve and improve our player development systems," Cashman said. "How do we do that best? We provide our young players access to people like Hideki Matsui, who obviously crossed over, not only from the amateur world from Japan to the pros, but from Japan to the United States' major leagues and had amazing success. He was a pro in that clubhouse and on the field in every way, shape and form. He exuded everything that we thought it was to be a Yankee."

2. Cashman said Matsui's role could grow, but it is really up to Matsui.

"We'll take as much of Hideki as we can get," Cashman said.

3. How will Matsui help the most in Cashman's eyes? "The real communication and the magic is going to take place when he is on that field in the batting cage," Cashman said.

4. Matsui will be in uniform in the dugout, working with the team's managers, batting coaches and players.

5. Besides providing hitting tips, Matsui will explain to players how to deal with the media.

"No one handled the press as well as Hideki did," Cashman said. "He played in two of the largest media markets in the world. He handled that responsibility with true grace and professionalism. That is something that every one of us can learn from."

6. Matsui doesn't think it is going to be easy.

"As much of a challenge for the players to develop, this is also a challenge for myself," Matsui said.

7. Matsui will report to Cashman and VP of player development Gary Denbo

8. Cashman expects Matsui's English to improve over the next year, putting him in a better position to possibly manage or coach one day.

"Matsui is capable of anything," Cashman said. "I think over time he will continue to elevate his communication skills so Roger [Kahlon, his longtime interpreter] will be a friend of the Yankees, but not necessarily an interpreter for the Yankees. He is definitely going to emerge. ... This year, you are going to see from where he starts to where he finishes, that transformation take place in that level of dialogue. In the future, I think he is capable of choosing whatever path he wants to take."

Matsui and Damon go home as winners

June, 22, 2014
NEW YORK -- On Sunday afternoon, Hideki Matsui did something he’d never done before: pitch.

Matsui gave up singles to the only two batters he faced in the fourth inning of Sunday’s Old-Timers' Day game at Yankee Stadium.

Matsui’s Bombers used a four-run first inning to beat the Clippers, 7-3. Matsui also contributed an RBI fielder’s choice in his Old-Timers' Day debut.

Johnny Damon, also making his Old-Timers' Day debut, had a single and a double for the Bombers.

Jesse Barfield homered for the Bombers.

Matsui, Damon suit up for Old-Timers' Day

June, 22, 2014
Old-Timers DayJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesSpirit of 2009: Matsui focuses on Damon (and Jesse Barfield) during pregame prep.
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees wouldn’t have won the 2009 World Series without the contributions of both Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. Matsui had six RBIs in the championship-clincher, while Damon stole two bases on a single pitch in Game 4.

Seems like just yesterday, doesn’t it? Well, five years later, both Matsui and Damon are appearing in their first Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium.

“It means a lot to me,” Damon said Sunday. “I was very fortunate to be blessed to be able to win a championship here, and because of that I can show my face here as much as I’d like.”

Asked what his favorite memories in pinstripes were, Matsui said, “The one that really stands out is Game 7 of the ALCS in 2003. And that’s something I obviously have my personal choices, but as a team that was something that really stands out, and I could never forget it. On a personal level, the grand slam in my first Yankee Stadium Opening Day in my first year, and the World Series in ’09. But those are the ones that really stand out.”

Matsui was a two-time All-Star in his seven seasons in the Bronx. He won the 2009 World Series MVP award after batting .615 with three home runs and eight RBIs in the Fall Classic.

Damon hit .285 in four years with the Yankees and had an OPS of .821.

Joked Matsui: “If I play in a beer league right now, it might be cheating a little bit, so I may wait a couple more years to consider it, but I’m just relaxing and enjoying my retirement.”

Damon was hoping to get a call to play last season, but it never came. He hasn’t announced his retirement, but plans to officially do so after spring training next season.

“I’m probably in better soccer condition now,” Damon said.

Matsui received a nice ovation when he was introduced to the crowd -- as did Damon.

Damon, Matsui to attend Old-Timers' Day

June, 10, 2014
Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and John Montefusco will make their Old-Timers' Day debut when the 68th rendition of the annual event takes places on Sunday, June 22.

Ceremonies will begin at 11:30 a.m.. The regular game will begin at 2:05 p.m. against the Orioles.

As part of the pregame ceremonies, the Yankees will honor Rich “Goose” Gossage by unveiling a Monument Park plaque that will recognize his Hall of Fame career. Here is the full list of expected participants:

Jesse Barfield
Yogi Berra
Brian Boehringer
Scott Bradley
Dr. Bobby Brown
Maggie Coleman (Widow)
David Cone
Johnny Damon
Bucky Dent
Al Downing
Brian Doyle
John Flaherty
Whitey Ford
Jake Gibbs
Joe Girardi
Rich "Goose" Gossage
Ron Guidry
Charlie Hayes
Rickey Henderson
Orlando Hernandez
Arlene Howard (Widow)
Helen Hunter (Widow)
Reggie Jackson
Scott Kamieniecki
Pat Kelly
Don Larsen
Graeme Lloyd
Hector Lopez
Jill Martin (Widow)
Tino Martinez
Hideki Matsui
Lee Mazzilli
Stump Merrill
Gene Michael
Gene Monahan (Trainer)
John Montefusco
Diana Munson (Widow)
Kay Murcer (Widow)
Jeff Nelson
Paul O'Neill
Joe Pepitone
Andy Phillips
Willie Randolph
Bobby Richardson
Mickey Rivers
Joe Torre
David Wells
Roy White

Hideki Matsui retires as a Yankee

July, 28, 2013
NEW YORK -- Hideki Matsui's baseball career in the United States ended the same way it began: as a member of the New York Yankees.

[+] EnlargeHideki Matsui and Derek Jeter
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsDerek Jeter presented Hideki Matsui with a framed No. 55 jersey from the Yankees organization.
Matsui retired as a Yankee on Sunday, as he signed a one-day minor league deal with the team and later inked his retirement papers in a ceremony before a game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.

Matsui, 39, officially retired in December, but went through this process to ensure that his final day in baseball would be as a member of the Yankees.

"I think this moment will be a moment I never forget," Matsui said through an interpreter. "To be able to retire as a member of the team which I aspired to and I looked up to, I think there's nothing more fulfilling."

Matsui played seven seasons for the Yankees. He was a two-time All-Star and the MVP of the 2009 World Series.

Click here to read the entire story.

Yankees to honor Matsui

May, 30, 2013
The New York Yankees will honor Hideki Matsui on July 28th prior to their game against Tampa Rays, which, coincidentally enough, is Matsui Bobblehead Day. Here is part of the press release:

The New York Yankees will honor the illustrious career of Hideki Matsui before their scheduled 1:05 p.m. game on Sunday, July 28 vs. Tampa Bay.

Matsui will sign a one-day minor league contract with the Yankees on July 28 in order to announce his official retirement that day as a New York Yankee. His parents are also expected to be in attendance at the game.

Additionally, on July 28, the Yankees will hold a special pregame homeplate ceremony for Matsui, and the first 18,000 Guests at the game will receive a Hideki Matsui bobblehead – which portrays the slugger with his 2009 World Series MVP trophy.

In honor of Matsui, who wore uniform No. 55 with the Yankees, the day’s events are to take place on the Yankees’ originally scheduled 55th home game of the 2013 season.

Matsui was also recently honored by the Yomiuri Giants – whom he played for 10 seasons from 1993-2002 – in a ceremony at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on May 5. During the event, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented Matsui with the People's Honor Award, the most prestigious award in Japan bestowed on those who have made significant achievements in their careers and are beloved by the public.


Hit-deki! Matsui's bat to the Hall

January, 2, 2013
Nearly a decade ago, Hideki Matsui made his debut as a Yankee, inspiring fans on two continents to focus on Yankee Stadium. In terms of popularity, Matsui was viewed as the "Michael Jordan of Japan." In terms of playing ability, the Yankees hoped he could be Paul O'Neill with more power.

In that first game at Yankee Stadium, Matsui delivered, becoming the first Yankee ever to nail a grand slam in his Bronx debut.

"I never dreamed of it," Matsui said after he took Joe Mays deep in the fifth of the Yankees' 7-3 win over the Twins. "Certainly I feel a little relief."

Now, the bat that Matsui used for that memorable moment will be in Cooperstown, according to Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson's Twitter account. Idelson even provided a picture.

Ibanez: I look good in pinstripes

February, 25, 2012
Raul Ibanez, a dead-ringer for Yul Brynner in "The King and I,'' held court, briefly, in the Yankees' clubhouse on Saturday morning and said one of the reasons he chose to come here was because of the uniform.

Among the criteria the 40-year-old Ibanez listed as his reasons for choosing the Yankees were, "It's a winning team, it's a chance to win the World Series, being able to be close to home in Philadelphia where I live with my family, and and opportunity to get at-bats.

"Then above all of that is being able to wear the pinstripes and play in New York for the Yankees. Even though when you're on the other team, you may not like the Yankees, when the opportunity presents itself to become a Yankee, it's a big deal."

Like Alex Rodriguez, Ibanez was born in Manhattan -- Roosevelt Hospital -- but grew up in Miami, his family having moved down when he was a year old. He ran across A-Rod as a youngster in an instructional league years later and recalled asking someone, "Who is that kid? That's the next Juan Gonzalez.''

"I have apologized since,'' Ibanez said, laughing. "But at the time, it seemed like a really big call.''

Ibanez, who just came out of a three-year deal with the Phillies, was a member of the team that lost the 2009 World Series in six games to the Yankees, and remembers standing helplessly in the outfield as Johnny Damon stole two bases on one pitch in Game 4, the play that may have turned the Series to the Yankees.

"That was unbelievable,'' Ibanez said. I could feel myself pointing and yelling but not being able to do anything about it."

Ibanez said he was still angry about the play, and the outcome of the series, until about two weeks ago. He obviously got over it when he won the sweepstakes -- over Damon and Hideki Matsui, another member of that team -- to be the Yankees' DH this year.

"I'm thrilled to be here,'' he said.

QUESTION: How about you? Did the Yankees make the right choice with Ibanez over Damon or Matsui?

Yankees controlling the DH universe

February, 19, 2012
It's February 19 and future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, near Hall of Famer Johnny Damon, future Japan League Hall of Famer Hideki Matsui and Raul Ibanez, , a dependable 25HR-95 RBI guy the past eight years, are all out of work.

And to hear Yankees GM Brian Cashman tell it, it's because all of them are waiting by the telephone hoping for a call from the Bronx.

“In fairness to those guys, there’s an obvious need here in New York with a team that’s considered a contender that probably every one of those guys wants before they make their final decisions on other opportunities,'' Cashman said. "There's a vacancy sign here and everybody knows it. They’re probably sitting on the board waiting because of that reason, they’re all hoping to be that guy.''

Cashman was circumspect about who the Yankees might sign but the front-runner is known to be Ibanez because of his ability to play the outfield. Eric Chavez, who played 58 games for the Yankees last season but spent three months on the disabled list after breaking his foot, is also in the mix but more likely as a backup infielder than a DH. Damon, who called Cashman the other day, was told basically, thanks but no thanks.

"The preference would be to find someone from the left side that can do some damage against right-handed pitching, but at the same time, in the event we have injuries that hit in-season, that my manager could put out for defense,'' Cashman said.

If you feel you fit those requirements, submit your resume to B Cashman c/o The New York Yankees, and wait for your callback. But be warned: There's a lot of other guys sitting in front of the telephone waiting for the same thing.

25Q/25D: Should the Yankees sign Damon?

February, 8, 2012

AP Photo/Kathy WillensWill ex-Yankee Johnny Damon don the pinstripes once again in 2012?
25 Questions, 25 Days: Day 14

Nearly a month ago, we told you that if the Yankees were to add a DH, it would be “late and cheap,", according to a source.

Well, it is late so the Yankees are halfway there. Now, they are just waiting to see who will accept the cheap. The three main candidates to come to the Bronx are Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. They are all in the aisle in the free-agent market as older players who could be good fits for the Yankees as part-time, left-handed DHs.

Against left-handed pitching, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez can DH more with Eduardo Nunez getting more playing time in the field. Against, righties, Ibanez, Damon or Matsui could get the call a lot of days and nights this summer.

Me? I would go with Damon because he gives the Yankees power, with an added element of speed. And, most importantly, he plays.

“That is a tough one,” an AL scout said when presented with the three options. “Based on their versatility, I almost take Damon because he has remained the most healthy.”

Yup, Damon plays.

He has played in at least 140 games in 16 straight seasons. That ties Pete Rose, Hank Aaron and Brooks Robinson for the longest consecutive streak of 140-game seasons, according to researcher Katie Sharp. Only three players have had more 140-game seasons (non-consecutive): Rose (19), Carl Yastrzemski (17) and Brooks Robinson (17).

The Yankees’ philosophy on guys at the end of the bench is to take chances on players a little past their prime because they have more to recapture or, even if their skills have diminished, they still have more left. With Damon, there is a very good chance he is going to be healthy, even if he is in his late-30s.

Ibanez played 144 games last season and has been a healthy player for much of his career. Matsui, with his bad knees, is definitely a question mark health-wise.

While all three would be asked to be part-time DHs, the ability to play the field is important.

“None are good defensively at this point,” the scout said.

The scout rated Damon the best of the three. So Damon gives you health and a little more defense. He also gives you basically the same power, but more speed.

Damon hit 16 homers compared to Ibanez’s 20. Damon stole 19 bases to Ibanez’s two.

It is known that Damon, 38, can handle New York. Ibanez, 39, is said to have the right demeanor for the Bronx. But he has never played here.

Last year, Damon did not hit at home in Tampa. On the road, though, he was an excellent player, hitting .291 with a .357 on-base and a .477 slugging against right-handed pitching. Plus, remember how good he was in 2009, hitting 17 homers, including 12 against right-handed pitchers, in the Bronx.

Ibanez hit .245 overall, but just .210 away from Philly’s bandbox. He hit .255 against righties and had 16 of his 20 homers against them.

Ibanez would not be a bad choice; Damon would just be a better one.

What do you think?

Tomorrow: Is A-Rod still the cleanup hitter?

Nothing imminent with Yanks and Ibanez

February, 6, 2012
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, if that's truly what they are, "nothing is about to happen'' between the Yankees and Raul Ibanez, one of four candidates for a designated hitter job, the last opening on the club. According to ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, the Yankees are interested in either Ibanez, Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui for the job, the youngest of whom is Matsui, who is 37 until June 12. Presumably, Eric Chavez, 34, is still in the running as well.

This evening,'s Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Yankees "are in serious discussions'' with the 39-year-old Ibanez, coming off a three-year, $31.5 million contract with the Phillies. Rosenthal said Ibanez "would take less'' to play for the Yankees than he might elsewhere, although according to a team source, he's got to take even less than that.

"Prices have got to come down a bit,'' the source told Andrew Marchand, before the Yankees interest in Ibanez truly becomes a negotiation. Which of course means the Yankees are interested. Ibanez, like the others a left-handed hitter, batted .245 with 20 HRs and 84 RBI for the Phillies in 2011.

Damon, Ibanez & Matsui still possible

February, 6, 2012
The Yankees could add one of them in the coming week, Buster Olney reported.

According to a source I spoke with last month, this was the expected course of action on the DH market. The Yankees were going to do something late and cheap. The late par is upon us as we are two weeks from pitchers and catchers, now it is most likely going a question is who is going to be willing to be cheap.

Damon and Ibanez make the more sense than Matsui, to me, because they give the Yankees more flexibility.

Who do you want?

Which DH for the Yankees?

January, 18, 2012
According to a report by Ken Davidoff of Newsday, the Yankees have had contact with the representatives for Vlad Guerrero and Raul Ibanez about possibly filling their (maybe) vacant DH position. It has already been established that the Yankees are also interested in Johnny Damon Redux, Hideki Matsui Part II, and Carlos Pena.

In order to make a more educated decision, here are the particulars for each candidate. Read them over, factor in everything -- age, likely salary demands, recent production, where he fits into the lineup -- and choose one.

Or, don't choose any and go the more prudent way, cobbling together the lineup spot with a combination of Andruw Jones and a rotation of the Yankee regulars.

Guerrero: Turns 37 on Feb. 6. Right-hand hitter. 2011 salary: $7.6 million
Career: .318 BA, 449 HRs, 1496 RBI
2011: .290/13/63/.317 OBP

Damon: 38 years old. LH hitter. 2011 salary: $5.25 million
Career: .286/231/1126
2011: .261/16/73/.326 OBP

Matsui: 38 on June 12. LH hitter. 2011 salary: $4.25 million
Career: .285/173/753
2011: .251/12/72/ .321 OBP

Pena: 34 on May 2, LH hitter. 2011 salary $9.6 million
Career: .239/258/730
2011: .225/28/80/.357 OBP

Ibanez: 40 on June 2. LH hitter. 2011 salary $12.2 million
Career: .280/252/1054
2011: .245/20/84/.289

Is there a right choice here? I'm not sure I see one. Let us know what you see.

Source on a bat: "Right price & late"

January, 15, 2012
As we noted on Saturday, the Yankees haven't made any final plans on if they will add a bat, but the feeling in the organization is if they do it won't be for significant money. One source said he thought they could add one at the "right price in a late deal," meaning they will wait out the market and see what is available in the discount bin as they move even closer to spring training.

Thus, someone like Johnny Damon could make sense at an affordable contract. Damon made $5.25M last year, which is probably too much for the Yanks now. Damon, wherever he ends up, will likely have to take less than that, I would suspect.

Damon has 2,723 hits in his career and probably needs two or three seasons to get to 3,000. Last year, he had 152 in 150 games, however the Rays don't seem to want him back after signing Luke Scott.

Another interesting ex-Yankee, who is still out there, is Hideki Matsui. Like Damon, Matsui would have to be fine with not playing everyday and mostly against right-handers. Matsui was actually much better against left-handed pitching (.273, 8 homers and 29 RBIs) last year compared to righties (.242, 4 homers and 43 RBIs).

(Damon actually was, too, but the contrast was not as significant in his .261, 16 HRs, 73 RBI overall numbers. Damon hit .277 against lefties compared to .255 vs. righties.)

With A-Rod likely getting a day or two a week at DH and Derek Jeter one day, the DH against right-handers will likely only play four or fives games a week.

Hideki to Tampa?

December, 5, 2011
Tampa Bay has been linked to Hideki Matsui to continue their buding tradition of having former Yankee Red Sox stars become DHs for them at the end of their career. They had Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, while they have often been linked to Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, though, neither ever signed there.

How about Matsui?

"He's a wonderful professional," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Maddon went on to call him a "clutch hitter" and a "good man." He said the Rays are just now discussing their plans for the DH spot. Damon is still an option.



Jacoby Ellsbury
.271 16 70 71
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146