Results tagged ‘ Hideki Matsui ’
There were several light moments during last night’s charity event to benefit Yankees radio engineer and producer Carlos Silva, but one that sticks out concerns Mariano Rivera and his not-so-secret desire to play center field for an inning in a big league game.
A fan brought the topic up during the Q&A portion of the evening, and I was a little surprised to hear it — I assumed that’d been put to rest by last year’s injury in Kansas City. Yankees manager Joe Girardi answered the question fairly, pointing out that the only scenario where they’d even consider it would be a bad one for the Yankees — it’d have to be late in the season and already apparent that the team wasn’t going to the playoffs, since they wouldn’t risk losing their closer (again) with any chance of a World Series on the line.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman had a better response, laughing and saying that Rivera killed those plans for himself by crumpling on the warning track at Kauffman Stadium last May.
“My answer is, you saw what he did. He can’t play center field,” Cashman said, laughing. “The guy is an old man! He blew his knee out!”
That doesn’t mean Rivera has completely given up on the idea; brought on stage seconds later, he announced that we all haven’t heard the last of him in center field.
It should go without saying by now, but this Rivera guy doesn’t give up easily. Here’s how Girardi and Cashman handled the question:
More newsy notes from last night:
- Cashman said that the Yankees invited Hideki Matsui to Spring Training as a celebrity guest instructor, but Matsui declined because his wife is expecting a child. By the way, Jorge Posada – fresh off his appearance at Women’s Fantasy Camp – has hinted that he’ll be attending.
- Girardi said that there is “no formula” for how the Yankees will handle their catching, but they’re holding firm that it’ll probably be from the group of Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Austin Romine. The Yankees don’t view Stewart as a starting catcher, but Girardi said that he could see Romine – who remains slated to begin the year at Triple-A – playing in New York for “a substantial amount of time” in the near future.
- Cashman likened Yankees outfield prospect Mason Williams to former big league outfielder Otis Nixon with a little more power, which is a comparison I hadn’t heard before. He also said that Mark Montgomery has a real chance to land at the big league level this year, wielding a nasty slider that could have him help in a David Robertson-type role.
- Cashman on why the Yankees were so quiet on the free agent market: “This market, this winter, was bad.”
- Cashman on what he liked about adding Travis Hafner: “Big hairy monster. I keep saying that, but none of those guys have a lot of hair. He’s the profile we like; on-base percentage with power from the left side. He’s not someone that when he’s coming to the plate, a pitcher is going to be too comfortable facing, especially in our ballpark.”
Hideki Matsui was without a doubt one of the classiest players I’ve had the pleasure of covering, wonderfully balancing his graceful nature with a flair for the dramatic. His final game as a Yankee, the historic Game 6 of the 2009 World Series, could not have been a more perfect conclusion to his seven seasons in pinstripes.
Derek Jeter often called Matsui one of his favorite teammates, and that’s high praise — and well deserved. I was personally always amazed by Matsui’s pain tolerance; you’d see him 20 minutes after the end of a game in which he more often than not did something to help the Yankees’ cause, and he would be grimacing at his locker with huge ice bags strapped to both knees.
More than once, I can remember seeing Matsui before a game and thinking there was no way he’d be in that night’s lineup. Not only would he go through batting practice and wind up in the starting nine, but flash forward a few hours and I’d be scribbling a ‘HR’ in the scorecard next to his name.
Here is the press release from the Yankees announcing Matsui’s retirement, with statements included from Hal Steinbrenner, Jeter and Brian Cashman:
DECEMBER 27, 2012
NEW YORK YANKEES REACT TO THE RETIREMENT OF HIDEKI MATSUI
Earlier today, former Yankee Hideki Matsui announced his retirement from Major League Baseball.
Matsui – nicknamed ‘Godzilla’ – spent seven seasons with the New York Yankees (2003-09), combining to bat .292 (977-for-3,348) with 536 runs, 196 doubles, 140 home runs and 597RBI.
Originally signed by the Yankees as a free agent on January 14, 2003, following a 10-year career in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, Matsui became first player in franchise history to hit a grand slam in his Yankee Stadium debut, doing so on April 8, 2003 vs. Minnesota.
The two-time All-Star (2003-04) did not miss a game over his first three years with the Yankees, playing 518 consecutive games – which remains the longest streak of consecutive games played to start a career in Major League Baseball. He also drove in at least 100 runs four times during his MLB career, including each of his first three seasons.
In his final game as a Yankee, Matsui went 3-for-4 with a home run and 6RBI in the Yankees’ World Series-clinching Game 6 win vs. Philadelphia on November 4, 2009. The 6RBI is tied the World Series record for a single game (also the Yankees’ Bobby Richardson in 1960 and Albert Pujols in 2011), and sealed Matsui’s unanimous selection as the World Series MVP.
STATEMENT FROM YANKEES MANAGING GENERAL PARTNER HAL STEINBRENNER
“Hideki Matsui, in many ways, embodied what this organization stands for. He was dedicated to his craft, embraced his responsibilities to his team and fans, and elevated his play when he was needed the most. He did all these things with a humility that was distinctly his own, which is why he was such a big part of our success and why he will always be a cherished member of the Yankees family.”
STATEMENT FROM YANKEES GENERAL MANAGER BRIAN CASHMAN
“Hideki is proof that baseball is an international attraction that brings people from all over the world together in their passion for the game. He was the type of player and person you want young fans of this game to emulate. He played with pride, discipline and of course talent, and flourished when the lights were at their brightest. People naturally gravitated towards him, and that’s a direct reflection of his character. He was a true professional in every sense of the word and it feels good knowing he was able to raise the championship trophy as a member of the Yankees.”
STATEMENT FROM YANKEES SHORTSTOP DEREK JETER (Matsui’s teammate from 2003-09)
“I’ve said it numerous times over the years, but it’s worth repeating now. I’ve had a lot of teammates over the years with the Yankees, but I will always consider Hideki one of my favorites. The way he went about his business day in and day out was impressive. Despite being shadowed by a large group of reporters, having the pressures of performing for his fans both in New York and Japan and becoming acclimated to the bright lights of New York City, he always remained focused and committed to his job and to those of us he shared the clubhouse with. I have a lot of respect for Hideki. He was someone we counted on a great deal and he’s a big reason why we became World Champions in 2009.”
In a conference call with reporters discussing the Michael Pineda trade on Monday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he’d be more inclined to trade from his pitching depth to acquire a designated hitter than to sign one on the open free agent market.
When the Yankees officially announce the signing of right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, they’ll have seven starters vying for five spots. CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Pineda, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and Freddy Garcia are also in that mix.
“Maybe I use our excess pitching to find a bat,” Cashman said. “That’s a possibility. … We stretched the payroll to get [Kuroda] done, so I’m not sure what we have financially. I think we’ll look at the trade market first and foremost and see where that takes us.”
Among the DH options out there, the Yankees have reportedly heard from Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero and Raul Ibanez, but are not thought to consider any of them an urgent priority.
“I think [the free agent market] would be secondary,” Cashman said. “Not that any of those players aren’t quality, but I do think it’s probably in our interest to first and foremost see what’s available in the trade market, because we have excess starter. There should be a demand and an interest at the various levels in our starting pitching that might prove beneficial.”
If the season started today, the Yankees would likely go with Andruw Jones as their DH, though they are curious about Minor League slugger Jorge Vazquez.
Busy day thus far, with the Brian Bruney trade done and the Yankees apparently getting serious with Andy Pettitte. Here’s something lighter, as White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen fielded a few questions about Hideki Matsui here in the work room this afternoon:
On Matsui’s World Series performance: “He made Girardi proud. It was unbelievable. This guy stepped up when they needed it, when they needed it the most. It’s not because of the World Series nobody would be talking about him right now. He says I’ve got another good year, but I think the World Series will help him a lot to be a free agent. He was pretty impressed.”
On being interested in managing Matsui: “I don’t mind. I manage two Japanese players and it’s fun. The only thing, I’ve got 20 Japanese guys around all the time. I’ve got all the media around. But I love it because all of a sudden when you get fired from the United States, you might have a chance to manage in Japan, you never know.”
On if the White Sox would have room for a DH: “We’ve got room for a lot of people. You know, Andruw (Jones), we need one more guy that could be him, but he’d have to show us he can play the outfield, too.”
By the way, Joe Girardi will be in town for a 4:30 p.m. press conference on Tuesday.
One of the realities of that great parade down the Canyon of Heroes was that it was probably going to be the last time these 2009 Yankees were together as a group. That was confirmed yesterday when Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, two of the biggest keys to the World Series title, officially filed for free agency.
Jose Molina, Xavier Nady and Eric Hinske also officially filed on Monday, one weekend of celebration after rolling down Broadway on a float.
Brian Cashman said yesterday that he does not expect to lock up any of his seven free agents before they splash onto the open market, which means that none of those five are likely to get a quickie deal, along with Andy Pettitte and Jerry Hairston, Jr.
What I keep telling people who ask is this: If you’d asked me at the All-Star Break who the Yankees would be more likely to keep, Damon or Matsui, I would have said Damon. But then Damon tailed off in the second half and Matsui was a monster, and now I really can’t be so sure.
The fact that the Yankees don’t see Matsui as anything but a DH hurts his chances, because the idea of a revolving-door DH between guys like A-Rod, Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira and company is appealing and makes sense.
As for Damon, he was a great Yankee, which I wasn’t sure he’d be when he was shaving off his Red Sox scruff. But the moment I truly believed the Yankees were going to win the World Series was his dash in Game 4. People don’t understand how incredibly smart of a play that was.
So Cashman vows he does not do things for sentimental reasons, and I believe him on that topic. Just because a guy was the World Series MVP doesn’t mean you have to bring him back. Heck, the Yankees did it in ’96 with John Wetteland.
As for the other three guys in that group, Molina brings a lot to the clubhouse in terms of relationships and wisdom. If the cost isn’t crazy, a return isn’t out of the question, and if not they can entrust the backup catcher job to Francisco Cervelli – who really did seem ready for it.
Hinske never really got as many at-bats as I thought Joe Girardi would give him down the stretch — it almost seemed at times that they forgot he was on the team — and Nady will be permitted to leave as a free agent, since it’s difficult to
count on a guy who is coming off his second serious surgery.
Should be a good Hot Stove. Who said baseball has an offseason?
Hideki Matsui’s first year with the Yankees was 2003, and though the Bombers lost in that World Series to the Marlins, the thought was that they’d be back time and time again as the seasons went on. Not so, as it turned out. It has taken until 2009, perhaps Matsui’s final year in pinstripes, to get back to this point.
“Certainly, the frustration was there,” Matsui said Sunday through an interpreter. “Any time you lose, it
leaves a bitter feeling in your mouth. So not having been able to get
back here to the World Series, and in addition to that, being that it’s
the goal that I strive for every year, certainly it was frustrating.”
Matsui has been relegated to a pinch-hitter and emergency outfielder for these games in Philadelphia, though there was some thought to playing him out there. In the end, the Yankees looked at Matsui’s balky knees and his rustiness playing the outfield before Game 3 and decided that Matsui would be on the bench.
“As far as how my knees feel, overall I feel pretty good,” Matsui said. “As far as playing the outfield, there are certain factors that, I guess, are still unknown or untested. I haven’t been in the outfield obviously, and the weather and so forth. But as far as how I feel, the knees feel good right now.”
Everyone seems well aware of the idea that this could be Matsui’s last turn in a Yankees uniform. Nobody knows for sure what the future holds, but the Yankees have internally considered the idea of a revolving-door DH position for next year, allowing players like Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira to take turns.
What that means for Matsui remains to be seen. But if this is his final go-around, as he said in the first days of Spring Training, he would like to cap it with a World Series title.
With Jorge Posada’s 20th home run of the season in the ninth inning tonight off Toronto’s Jason Frasor, the Yankees now have seven players with 20 or more home runs.
That sets a new franchise record and ties a Major League record also shared by the 1996 Orioles, 2000 Blue Jays and 2005 Rangers (credit: Elias Sports Bureau).
The Yankees with 20 or more: Mark Teixeira-32, Johnny Damon-24, Alex Rodriguez-24, Hideki Matsui-23, Nick Swisher-23 and Robinson Cano-22. The old Yankees franchise record of six players with 20 or more home runs was set in 1961 and tied in 2004.
10 games in 11 days, to Seattle, Oakland and Boston. If the Yankees knew coming into that excursion that they would be flying home with seven victories in their back pocket – and especially two out of three in the Red Sox series – they would have signed right up for that.
Things are flying high right now for the Yankees, who open a three-game series with the Rangers tonight with Joba Chamberlain on the mound. They’re a Major League-best 27-9 since the All-Star break and own the best record in the Majors, heading into tonight tied with their season high of 32 games over .500.
All of that makes the things you actually can fret about, like the possible rift between A.J. Burnett and Jorge Posada, just background noise for the moment.
Mark Teixeira was on the Late Show with David Letterman last night and took a little batting practice outside the Ed Sullivan Theatre, sending a few bombs flying deep down 53rd Street. Here’s a video.
And now, a few other of the off-day discussion stories floating around out there:
Anthony McCarron has a great look in the New York Daily News at June 24, the night the Yankees saved their season with a pregame meeting at Atlanta’s Turner Field.
Andy Pettitte checks in with Pete Caldera of the Bergen Record, addressing the idea that this could really be the lefty’s final year.
Derek Jeter’s “favorite player right now,” Hideki Matsui, tells Jack Curry of The New York Times that he would love to stay put in Yankees pinstripes.
Pitching: A.J. Burnett (10-5, 3.71)
Pitching: Brett Tomko (1-2, 5.23)
FROM THE CLUBHOUSE: Isn’t it funny that Brett Tomko can resurface as a starting pitcher exactly as the Yankees open a three-game series against the A’s, having departed saying how he was happy to be leaving because it never seemed like he got a chance in New York? Well, now he gets his opportunity here to pull off an upset. Said Joe Girardi: “We know Brett and Brett knows us.” …
With Hideki Matsui out until at least tomorrow after having his left knee drained, Derek Jeter got to jump in the lineup as the designated hitter. Good timing, considering his nearly unpublicized pursuit of Luis Aparicio’s record for hits as a shortstop concluded Sunday. …
The Yankees are anxious to see how Matsui responds to treatment and Girardi said he will not use him at all on Monday. …
A couple of other small items — the name Russ Ortiz did come up briefly in discussions about helping the big league team, but never seriously. Ortiz elected free agency from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in hopes of latching on with a playoff contender that would call him up. Brett Gardner is set to see a doctor on Wednesday about his left thumb and wouldn’t rejoin the big league team until September.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Matsui is experiencing some fluid in the knee and that having it drained could be a possibility. Girardi had planned to rest Matsui anyway for the series finale against the Mariners because of stiffness and was told by head trainer Gene Monahan that Matsui needed another day.
“He has a little bit of fluid on it today,” Girardi said. “What that means, I can’t tell you yet. The right leg is fine, the left leg has a little bit of fluid. It’s the first time in a long time. Is it a concern of mine? A little bit. Hopefully we get it out.”
With Matsui on the bench, Mark Teixeira started as the Yankees’ designated hitter and Nick Swisher manned first base. Matsui homered twice in a four-hit, five-RBI game for New York on Thursday and has 12 hits in his last 36 at-bats.