Matsui felt good in first extended spring game with Rays
Veteran DH/OF Hideki Matsui went 2-for-4 with a single, walk and an RBI in five at-bats in an extended spring game in Port Charlotte, his first game action since signing a minor league deal with the Rays last week.
“I’m not really focused on results or anything like that, but I felt like I had some good at-bats, hit the ball on the barrel,” Matsui said through interpreter Roger Kahlon. “So overall it was a good day.”
Matsui, 37, a two-time All-Star, will play the next three days in extended spring, including in the outfield Friday, before the Rays make the determination on whether he’s ready to move up to Triple-A Durham.
“So far, so good,” said Jared Sandberg, Hudson Valley manager. "The timing will come. Looks like he can still hit."
There were about 25 members of the Japanese media in attendance, standing behind the backstop and recording every move. The biggest controversy was whether Matsui’s first at-bat – a hard-hit grounder to first – was an infield hit or error (it was ruled a hit).
“I think it was a close play,” Matsui said.
While Wednesday was Matsui's first official game, he's been busy since reporting to Port Charlotte last Wednesday. Sandberg said Matsui takes 100-150 swings a day in the cage, had a live BP session a few days ago and played in a simulated game Tuesday, the first time he put on a Rays jersey. Matsui said in his introductory news conference he'll be treated like a minor leaguer, and Sandberg has been amazed on how the veteran will participate in every single drill, from baserunning to throwing.
"He's gone about his work way more than expected," Sandberg said.