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Matsui’s agent warns of ‘pressure cooker’

Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui will face the “pressure cooker of all pressure cookers” once he stands at the plate in a New York Yankees uniform before the hometown fans, Matsui’s agent said Thursday.

Arn Tellem said Matsui, who signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Yankees, is risking his reputation as “an icon of his country” to play in the major leagues.

He said It may take time for Matsui to adjust to his new environment. Even Jason Giambi, one of the most feared hitters in the game, struggled in his first months with the Yankees last season and was briefly booed by the home crowd, Tellem said.

“He’s going to the pressure cooker of all pressure cookers playing in New York,” Tellem told a news conference in Tokyo before meeting with Matsui. “There is more scrutiny, more pressure that goes with that team than any other professional team in sports.”

Asked what advice he offered to the 28-year-old Matsui, Tellem said he recited a line from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”: “This above all, to thine own self be true.”

Tellem refused to make any predictions about the Japanese baseball star, who has hit .300 or more in four straight seasons, with at least 36 homers and 95 RBIs. But he said he has no doubt Matsui will succeed.

“Everything I have seen of him over these past few months has impressed me like no other athlete,” he said, praising Matsui’s humility and desire to challenge himself.

Tellem is based in Los Angeles, Calif., with the sports marketing company SFX Sports Group. He also negotiated Giambi’s $120 million, seven-year contract and Mike Mussina’s $88.5 million, six-year deal with the Yankees.

Matsui, who has been working out in Tokyo, is to report to the Yankees’ training camp in mid-February.

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