Even after living every boy’s dream of hitting cleanup for the New York Yankees in the 2004 season, Hideki Matsui isn’t happy.
Matsui returned to Japan for the first time in eight months Friday and said he considers his second season in the major leagues a “big minus” because the Yankees missed the World Series.
“I think about it now and it’s still heartbreaking,” said Matsui when asked of the playoff loss to the Boston Red Sox that sent the Yankees’ archrivals to the World Series and saw them become world champion.
“In my eyes it wasn’t a good season. My personal stats improved somewhat, but I’ve only played (in the majors) for two years. It means I’ve gotten used to their baseball and learned to adjust,” he said.
The 30-year-old Matsui batted .298 with 31 homers and 108 RBIs this past season, all career highs in the majors. He batted .287 with 16 homers and 106 RBIs the year before.
After 10 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, the veteran outfielder is in no hurry to find a new thesis to work on as far as baseball goes. While back in Japan, he is keen to catch up with old friends and eat Japanese food during his limited time off.
“I have to watch my weight, though,” he said.
Training is a secondary consideration.
“Of course I’ll work out, but there’s nothing that I feel that I absolutely have to do. I want to consider my off-season training an extension of the postseason, and work on polishing my hitting mechanics. If I succeed, my stats will go up,” he said.
Matsui has yet to frame a long-term career plan and does not know where life’s road will lead him. He will only set one goal at a time, and his current goal is hard enough to accomplish.
“I don’t know if I’ll be a Yankee for life, but for now I’m in a great playing atmosphere. The team hasn’t been world champion since I joined so I want to help make that a reality,” said Matsui, who will be entering the final year of a three-year contract.
“Next year will be a big year for me. I hope it all goes smoothly,” he said.
Iguchi picks agent
FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Tadahito Iguchi, who recently asked the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks to release him so he can make himself available to major league clubs, said Friday he will hire Dick Moss as his agent and is set to formalize the deal early next week.
Moss, whose former clients include superstar pitcher Nolan Ryan, will be negotiating for the 29-year-old infielder whose chances of making the switch to the majors through the posting system were dashed last off-season with Hiroki Kokubo’s transfer.
BayStars ink pair
The Yokohama BayStars said Friday they have acquired former major leaguers Kevin Witt and Marc Kroon, both on one-year deals worth $400,000 each.
Earlier, the BayStars allowed catcher Takeshi Nakamura to move to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on a free transfer, making him the first to join the Sendai-based team through a trade or transfer.
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