Matsui officially signed to minor-league deal
UPDATE, 6:11: There are no guarantees Matsui will be called up and no timetable once he starts playing, but the Rays sure seem to like the idea of having him as a possibility if they need help. "It's absolutely wonderful to have this guy in our organization,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ... More than 20 Japanese journalists at the Trop tonight, and peppering Matt Moore, who currently wears 55, what he would do is Matsui gets called up and wants the number back. (He respectfully said he hadn't really thought about it.)
BREAKING: The Rays made it official Monday, signing former All-Star OF/DH Hideki Matsui to a minor-league deal.
Matsui will be at the Trop on Tuesday for a media session, then on Wednesday report to the Rays extended spring camp in Port Charlotte. He is expected to eventually join Triple-A Durham, likely by mid-May.
"Over the past two decades, Hideki has been one of the most consistently productive hitters in the world,'' Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said, in a team release. "We are happy to add his ability, approach and professionalism to our organization.''
Matsui, who turns 38 in June, has played nine seasons in the majors - seven with the Yankees, then one each with the Angels and A's, compiling a .285 average, 173 home runs, 753 RBIs and 248 doubles in 1,202. He was a nine-time All-Star in Japan, hitting .304 with 332 home runs, 889 RBI and 245 doubles in 1,268 games.
His combined career numbers: .295 batting average, 2,629 hits, 505 home runs, 1,642 RBI and 493 doubles in Japan and the United States. He is the first player to hit a combined 500 home runs between the Japanese and major leagues.
With Oakland last season, Matsui hit .251 with 12 home runs, 72 RBIs and 28 doubles, starting 108 games at DH and 27 in leftfield.
In 61 career games at the Trop, he has a .297 average with 10 homers and 43 RBIs.