TAMPA, Fla. — Hideki Matsui went 0-for-2 in his first intrasquad game with the New York Yankees.
The three-time MVP of Japan’s Central League started Monday in left field and hit fifth for the “Gators,” which included the regular starters.
“It’s been a while since my last actual game,” Matsui said through an interpreter. “I felt pretty good playing the game.”
Matsui left after the fourth inning of the five-inning game so he could do his conditioning work before heading to an appointment with a dentist. Manager Joe Torre said Matsui might need a root canal.
“It was just picked up in routine stuff,” Torre said. “It’s nothing that has been bothering him.”
Matsui is not expected to play in Tuesday’s intrasquad game.
“I don’t think it will keep me out of practice,” Matsui said. “I have a few cavities. I will continue to practice as I’ve been doing.”
Matsui’s first at-bat, against minor league pitcher Alex Graman, came with runners on first and second and two outs in the first. One fan yelled “come on Godzilla” before Matsui took a pitch high for ball one.
On a 2-0 pitch, Matsui grounded out to first baseman Fernando Seguignol, who played in Japan last season and has the adjoining locker in the Legends Field clubhouse.
“I was just trying to get a feel with playing the actual game,” Matsui said. “Also, getting a feel of the pitchers.”
Matsui’s second at-bat came as the leadoff hitter in the fourth. He hit a high pop fly on an 1-0 pitch by minor leaguer Jason Anderson that was caught in shallow right by Marcus Thames.
Torre does not believe Matsui is putting too much pressure on himself.
“If I sensed that, we’d talked about it,” Torre said. “I really don’t sense that.”
Matsui’s day was documented by large contingent of Japanese media, which had a particular interest in where the outfielder was in the batting order. When Ron Guidry, the former Yankees’ pitcher who managed Matsui’s team, was ready to post the lineup in the clubhouse, Guidry was surrounded by a dozen reporters.
Several television crews videotaped the lineup card after it was posted in the first-base dugout during batting practice.
Matsui, running in toward the infield, caught a soft liner off the bat of Ryan McGuire, ending the first inning. He also recorded the final out of the second, catching Enrique Wilson’s high fly in shallow left.
Elsewhere, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, who rejoined the New York Mets after a one-year absence, hit a home run in his second at-bat in an intrasquad game in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He was 1-for-3.
In Peoria, Ariz., leadoff batter Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-2 and was issued a walk in a seven-inning intrasquad game.
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