Tampa Bay Rays Sign Hideki Matsui

MLB veteran Hideki Matsui signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays today and the outfielder/designated hitter will report to the Rays training facility in Port Charlotte, Florida, for workouts beginning Wednesday.

Hideki Matsui starred for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League for 10 years (including three championships), followed by seven years with the New York Yankees. A career .281 hitter in the MLB (.304 in Japan), Matsui was the World Series MVP in 2009, when the Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies.

In 2010, he was a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and spent last year with the the Oakland A’s.

Matsui (nicknamed “Godzilla”) was a three time Central League MVP and was an All-Star in Japan three times and twice in the U.S. According to MLB. com, “Matsui has the most home runs, RBIs and walks (539) of any Japanese player in Major League history.” He also is the first player to combine for 500 home runs in Japan and the America (173 in the U.S.). Matsui also has reached the milestone of 2,000 combined professional hits.

Commenting on the signing, Rays executive Andrew Friedman said that “Over the past two decades, Hideki has been one of the most consistently productive hitters in the world. We are happy to add his ability, approach and professionalism to our organization.”

It appear likely that Hideki Matsui will be called up to the big club in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg as soon as he gets into game shape after extended Spring Training. He turns 38 next month.

[image credit: Keith Allison]