For starters, Rays vs White Sox, with Matsui in lineup
The Rays had a busy afternoon, with DH/OF Hideki Matsui joining them at Tropicana Field, and the veteran is in the starting lineup in leftfield against the White Sox.
Nearly 30 members of the Japanese media surrounded the dugout for an hour and a half, awaiting Matsui's first pre-game appearance on the field, with the Rays welcoming him to the clubhouse afterwards with their typical celebration as if he hit a walk-off homer
Matsui said he was very happy to get the call, and is ready for whatever role the Rays have for him. Manager Joe Maddon said Matsui will bounce around between DH, the outfield and as a pinch-hitter, with his professionalism and leadership expected to be a boost in the clubhouse.
Matsui, 37, had signed a minor league deal with the Rays April 30 with no guarantees of making it back to the majors. He reported to extended spring training, and played 13 games for Triple-A Durham, riding buses and all, saying it was "great experience." Matsui said he didn't have a timetable for how long it took, saying it was just a matter of getting into some games.
"I'm just happy that I received the callup and I'm going to work hard to help the team win," Matsui said through an interpreter.
Matsui, who usually wore No. 55, changed his number to No. 35 (since LHP Matt Moore has 55). Matsui said he picked it because it was available, and so he could keep at least one "5."
*Maddon had the Rays do an early workout on the field to do drills on fundamentals, including pickoff and bunts. Maddon said with all the new players joining the team in recent weeks, they thought a refresher was needed.
*Maddon said OF Desmond Jennings (left knee sprain) is getting close to a rehab assignment, possibly starting Thursday. Late next week is a good target date for his return. Maddon said 3B Evan Longoria (partial left hamstring tear) is about three weeks away from serious baseball activities, like a rehab stint.
-- JOE SMITH