‘Little’ Matsui ready to rumble in US Major League baseball
TOKYO: Kazuo Matsui, the first Japanese infielder to play in US Major League baseball, said Sunday he would do everything to woo fans at his new club, the New York Mets.
“I will demonstrate my legs, shoulders and all I have to put myself on the ground in the opening match in April,” the 28-year-old former shortstop with the Japanese Pacific Seibu Lions told reporters at Tokyo’s Narita airport.
Matsui, who signed a three-year, 20.1 million dollar contract with the Mets last month, was speaking before his departure to join the club’s spring camp due to open in Florida in mid-February. “I have no fear. I am taking along my family so we can fight together,” said Matsui, who was accompanied by his wife Mio, 27, and their baby daughter. “I can truly feel the expectations of fans and want to turn them into power. I hope to please fans in both Japan and New York and move them with my plays,” said Matsui, who is replacing 20-year-old Jose Reyes as shortstop at the Mets.
Reyes will move to second base and the two will be at the top of the batting order as well as the heart of the infield. Matsui will be the 18th player and the fifth position player (non-pitcher) from Japan to try his luck in the US Major Leagues.
Although not a power-hitter like Hideki “Godzilla” Matsui, who has successfully finished his first Major League season with the New York Yankees, “Little” Matsui has a remarkable record as a switch-hitter in his 10 years with the Lions. With 150 home runs, 569 runs-batted-in and 306 steals to his name, he has hit an average above .300 for seven straight years. —AFP