Via Anthony DiComo:
The Yankees announced on Wednesday that all of [Hideki] Matsui’s Spring Training action will come as a designated hitter, and that he won’t play much left field during the season, either.
Coming off knee surgery for the second successive winter, Matsui entered camp saying that his goal was to rehab his knees back to full strength. And for Matsui to achieve that, the Yankees decided he would be better served as a DH, without the rigors of regular outfield play.
“We just feel it’s not in our best interest to push it there in that situation,” manager Joe Girardi said. “For him to hit, he has to have his legs underneath him.”
It’s not really my decision, as far as how I’m used in the lineup,” Matsui said through an interpreter. “I’m going to continue to make sure I prepare for the game. I’ll make sure I prepare to play defense as well. But as far as the decisions are concerned, that’s beyond my control.”
Regardless, Matsui said that he agrees completely with the decision, but he won’t completely abandon his defensive preparations. Despite his age and injury history — he’s had two knee surgeries and a major wrist injury over the past three seasons — Matsui said that he envisions playing the outfield again in the future.
“As long as I do the things I need to do, take care of the knees and make sure I be diligent in my preparations,” Matsui said, “then I believe that I will be able to continue playing in the outfield.”
How did Hideki Matsui go from being Cal Ripken Jr. into being Tony Oliva in what seems like the blink of an eye? Regardless of his role, I hope that Godzilla has a big season in the Bronx this year. It would be good for the Yankees – and a nice send-off for a good guy in what most likely will be his last season in Yankeeland.