Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays' Hideki Matsui still excited to return to New York

First-base umpire Mark Wegner signals a home run for Hideki Matsui in the fourth inning Tuesday, Matsui’s first start with the Rays. The slugger today is back at Yankee Stadium, where he started his career in America in 2003.


First-base umpire Mark Wegner signals a home run for Hideki Matsui in the fourth inning Tuesday, Matsui’s first start with the Rays. The slugger today is back at Yankee Stadium, where he started his career in America in 2003.

DH/OF Hideki Matsui will return to where it all started for him — at least in the United States — when he heads back to Yankee Stadium tonight.

Matsui, 37, said he has fond memories of New York, where he spent seven seasons, made two All-Star teams and won a World Series MVP in 2009.

"Certainly the World Series MVP, the World Series experience was great. But regardless of that, the overall experience for me — everything was positive," Matsui said through interpreter Roger Kahlon. "It was just a great experience, a great organization, great city, great fans."

It was in New York where Matsui started his American career in 2003 after making the admittedly difficult decision to leave Japan, where he was a three-time MVP for its version of the Yankees, the Yomiuri Giants.

Matsui has returned as a visitor the past two seasons while with the Angels and A's, and he remains a fan favorite in New York, where he still has a Manhattan apartment.

"I'm sure you're acquainted already when you saw Johnny (Damon) when he went back to the stadium, too, but it's been similar," Matsui said. "Every time I stepped to the plate, fans have been very welcoming."

Matsui, who was selected last week from Triple-A Durham after signing a minor-league deal, has two homers and four RBIs in his first five games with the Rays. With LF Desmond Jennings (left knee sprain) expected to come off the disabled list today, it'll be interesting to see how much Matsui plays.

The Yankees know what kind of a threat their former mate is.

"Obviously, I hope he doesn't do much against us, but it'll be good to see him," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters in New York. "The bottom line is, he can hit a home run against anyone if you don't make your pitches."

DANDY ANDY: The Rays will get their first look tonight at Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte since he came out of retirement this past offseason. Pettitte, a three-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, rejoined New York's rotation in mid May after signing a minor-league deal.

"I knew he had something left on him," said Rays C Jose Molina, Pettitte's former teammate in New York. "It's always nice to see him back. … He's one of the greatest, because he's a winner. … He's one of my favorite players of all time."

STEPPING IN: RHP James Shields enters tonight's start against the Yankees winless in his past three and coming off a loss to the White Sox in which he allowed six runs and 10 hits.

But Shields, who is looking for his seventh win, likes where he's at.

"I looked at my video, and I still feel like I made good pitches," Shields said. "I'm not going to dwell on what happened. Obviously, I want better results. But it was kind of one of those outings where you feel good, you pitch good, you just have to continue that and carry it on to the next game."

Shields would like better results against the Yankees, too, having gone 0-4 with a 4.18 ERA in his past five starts in New York.

Said Shields: "Every start is a new start, so you can't really think about that."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Jennings, who spent the weekend on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham, could give the Rays a boost, back in his old leadoff spot and in leftfield, if he returns as expected tonight.

"There's one piece of our puzzle coming back," Shields said. "That's a good sign. He's a big part of our team."

Tampa Bay Rays' Hideki Matsui still excited to return to New York 06/04/12 [Last modified: Monday, June 4, 2012 10:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Fennelly: Dirk Koetter's apology no way to keep this fidget spinning


    TAMPA — It all began with a fidget spinner.

    This tweet from the Bucs, mocking the Falcons' 28-3 lead they lost in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, prompted a public apology from head coach Dirk Koetter, who called it "unprofessional and not smart."
  2. Perfection's not easy in baseball, just ask Calvary Christian


    CLEARWATER — Of the more than 300 varsity high school baseball teams in Florida, only one has won every game this season: Calvary Christian. The Warriors are a perfect 28-0.

    Calvary Christian's Matheu Nelson (63) prepares to take an at bat during the first inning of Wednesday's (5/10/17) region baseball semifinal game between Trinity Prep and Calvary Christian in Clearwater.
  3. Rays shut out Angels to cap homestand, get back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays completed their seven-game homestand Thursday with a 4-0 victory against the Angels, a win that moved them back to .500 for the season.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) after they score on the single by center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.
  4. Bucs suspended RB Doug Martin breaks his silence and says his drug problem is 'definitely behind me.'


    He would not talk about the drug he abused. He didn’t identify the rehab facility he entered last January or how long he was there.

    Doug Martin was contrite but optimistic about returning to the form he demonstrated as the NFL's second leading rusher two years ago.
  5. Kickoff times announced for Florida-Michigan, FSU-Alabama


    College football's blockbuster Sept. 2 season openers finally have kickoff times.