Hideki Matsui set to join Rays Tuesday, wear No. 35
UPDATE, 11:04: Matsui has worn No. 55 his entire career, but that number is taken with the Rays (by Matt Moore) so Matsui is expected to wear No. 35. And that was his choice. .. Also, unless there is another undisclosed injury issue, the most likely candidate to be send down to make room for Matsui is OF/C Stephen Vogt, a lefty hitter who has hardly been used during his latest recall. To make room on the 40-man roster, it would seem the Rays would move OF Brandon Guyer, who is having season-ending shoulder surgery on Thursday, from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list. --- Marc Topkin
BREAKING: Matsui Mania is coming to Tropicana Field.
The Rays are expected to call up designated hitter/outfielder Hideki Matsui from Triple-A Durham, with the veteran left-handed hitter scheduled to join them for Tuesday's game against the White Sox.
Tampa Bay will make a corresponding roster move Tuesday.
Matsui, 37, signed a minor league deal with the Rays April 30 with no guarantees he’d make it back to the majors. Matsui, a two-time All-Star and former World Series MVP, reported to extended spring in Port Charlotte before playing 13 games for the Bulls, hitting .170 with no homers and four RBI.
All the while, Matsui’s comeback created international attention, with around 50 Japanese media members showing up at his introductory press conference in St. Petersburg, and 30 following him to Durham. Matsui is a legend in Japan, a nine-time All-Star who played for three Japan Series championships.
Matsui has a .285 career average over nine big-league seasons, including 173 homers and 753 RBI. He spent his first seven years with the Yankees, earning the 2009 World Series MVP honors and last played for the A’s last season, when he hit .251 with 12 homers and 72 RBI.
Matsui’s contract had him making $10,000 a month in the minors, and $900,000 in the majors.
Rays manager Joe Maddon has said it wasn't about Matsui reaching any particular numbers in Durham to get called up, only that he'd get an opportunity when he felt "comfortable." Matsui could see time at designated hitter, along with fellow left-handed hitter Luke Scott, or play in the corner outfield.
-- JOE SMITH