ST. PETERSBURG — Matsui Mania is coming to Tropicana Field today.
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 tonight's game against the White Sox.
Tampa Bay will make a corresponding roster move today, with catcher Stephen Vogt potentially getting sent down.
Matsui, 37, could share time at designated hitter with Luke Scott, play corner outfield or be a pinch-hitting option.
Matsui's much-anticipated arrival comes after he signed a minor-league deal with the Rays on April 30. Matsui, a two-time All-Star and former World Series MVP, reported to extended spring in Port Charlotte. He played 13 games for the Bulls, hitting .170 with four RBIs.
All the while, Matsui's comeback created international attention, with about 50 Japanese media members showing up at his introductory news conference in St. Petersburg, and a crew of 30 following him to Durham. Matsui is a legend in Japan, a nine-time All-Star who won three Japan Series championships with the Yomiuri Giants.
Matsui has a .285 career average over nine big-league seasons, with 173 homers and 753 RBIs. He spent his first seven years with the Yankees, whom the Rays play next week in New York. Matsui last played for the A's in 2011, 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 if he made the majors. Matsui has always worn No. 55, but that's taken by Matt Moore, so expect him to wear No. 35, Matsui's choice.