Ex-Ray Matsui reportedly going to retire
Hideki Matsui may be a legend in Japan, and won a World Series MVP with the Yankees.
But the former All-Star outfielder will apparently end his career as a Ray. According to reports out of Japan, Matsui will announce his retirement tonight.
Matsui, 38, played most of his big-league career in New York (2003-2009), making two All-Star teams and helping them win the World Series in 2009. After one year stints with the Angels and A's, Matsui signed a minor league deal with the Rays in late April, with Tampa Bay hoping the slugger had some pop left in his bat.
Matsui made an initial splash, hitting a homer in his first at-bat with the Rays on May 29 - tallying two in his first three games. But Matsui would struggle mightily the rest of the way, batting just .147 with seven RBI in 34 games, including a 2-for-19 stretch in July that preceded his release.
Matsui racked up 175 homers and 760 RBIs in 10 big league seasons.
I remember heading down to Port Charlotte for Matsui's first day in the Rays organization, stunned when nearly two dozen members of the Japanese media arrived to chart every pitch of his at-bats on a backfield in an intrasquad minor league game. Having been a former MVP in Japan, where he's given king treatment, Matsui still had a large following as his career was coming to a close. Those who covered him in Japan always talked about how gracious and professional he was, how many fans at home were rooting for him to make a comeback. And I understood why in dealing with him for only a few short months.
Good or bad, booed or cheered, Matsui would always be accountable at his locker in the clubhouse, spending as much time with the American press first - then as much time as the Japanese media needed. A class act until the end.
-- JOE SMITH