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."