Found May 01, 2012 on Fox Sports Florida:
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Inside a jammed auxiliaryclubhouse, some 50 Japanese media members and a large local press contingentgathered Tuesday morning for the official introduction of the highest-profileminor leaguer in Tampa Bay Rays history. Hello, Hideki Matsui. The iconic Japanese slugger and longtime fixture for the New York Yankees tookhis seat on a platform beside a translator, fielding questions about the newturn in his respected baseball career one that has led him, after two weeksof speculation, into the Tampa Bay fold. For the 2009 World Series MVP with the Yankees, the road to the Rays will leadthrough the farm system in the short term. Matsui agreed to a minor league dealthat will begin with the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs and, when he and theclub feel hes ready, jump to Triple-A Durham. Thats just fine with Matsui, who says he intends to travel with the minor leagueteams and live the life of a prospect with no preferred treatment. No, nothing special, he said. Im going to be a minor leaguer. But dont expect that stint to last too long, especially given the unfortunatedevelopment for the Rays with team leader Evan Longoria. The star third baseman and offensive force suffered ahamstring-knee injury Monday night while attempting to steal second baseagainst the Mariners. With Longoria out for an extended amount of time, itcould make Matsuis presence at the plate a far more pressing matter. But for now, theres no set timetable for the man who owns a career .285batting average with 173 home runs, 753 RBI and 248 doubles in 1,202 majorleague games over nine seasons. He did all that after hitting .304 with 332home runs, 889 RBI and 245 doubles in 1,268 games in Japan. I think its something were going to monitor very closely, executive vicepresident of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. With someone ofHidekis experience and caliber, well rely a lot on him as well him tellingus when he feels comfortable in the batters box as he gets going.I dont think theres any way to simulate facing livepitching. So working toward that and getting as many at-bats you see it everyspring. Guys near the end of spring feel like theyre always in a rush to getready for the season, but everyone operates differently. Matsui, who will turn 38 in June, stressed that he feels like hes in excellentphysical shape and is excited about the opportunity to play baseball again. Hehit .255 for Oakland last season with 12 homers, batting .295 in the secondhalf of the season. But hes been one of a handful of established designatedhitters to remain unsigned until now. "Fortunately, I've been given an opportunity to wear a major leagueuniform again, so I'm just very thankful for the Rays, Matsui said. My focusis just to work and hopefully get up to the majors as soon as possible." His impression of his new team is highly favorable. But in the end, hisdecision to sign with Tampa Bay was based in a simple fact: The club showedmore interest in his services than any other team. "The Rays have been a very strong team, especially over the last severalyears, he said. They've been to the playoffs as well. My impression is thisis an excellent team. As far as my decision is concerned, really the Rays havebeen the team that really seriously made an offer, and I think that was themain decision point for me." Friedman acknowledged that the Rays have had interest in Matsui for a while. First of all, for the last couple of offseasons, weve talked to Hidekisrepresentatives, Friedman said. Weve always had a tremendous amount ofrespect for him and what he does in the batters box, the type of person he is,the type of teammate, the success that hes enjoyed. So hes always beensomeone whos been on our radar. More conversations took place this past offseason, but nothing materialized. "As is often the case, things kind of go in different directions,Friedman said. So when the dust settled and we had our roster set, and Hidekiwas still going through the process, near the end of spring training we spokeagain. And we agreed to stay in touch at that point. It was something for usthat adding to not only the depth but when you have a chance to add achampionship-caliber player to your organization, its something that weregoing to be aggressive to do. Adding yet another left-hander to the crew of hitters they already have DHsLuke Scott and Brandon Allen, along with such power bats as Carlos Pena andMatt Joyce was never a concern to Friedman or anyone in the organization. If you look back at our rosters over the years, weve had a lot of left-handedhitters, Friedman said. Its something were very comfortable with. You faceright-handed pitching 70 (to) 75 percent of the time. But beyond that, Hidekisalso very good against left-handed pitching. So the fact that he hitsleft-handed isnt as important in that he handles both sides very well. While he waited for an offer to his liking, Matsui kept in shape over the pastfew months. "I was really focused on just staying in shape and getting ready reallynothing else on my mind, he said. As far as the details of what kind ofpractice I was doing, it was pretty much your regular, basic baseball training,nothing in particular." As for his minor league contract, the player who in Japan is larger than lifeexplained that he has no problem with accepting it. "I think that really resembles where I'm at as far as myself as a baseballplayer, Matsui said. For now, Matsui will be the most famous member of the Stone Crabs, and soon theDurham Bulls. He said his contract contains no out clauses if the Rays dontpromote him quickly enough or decide they dont need him. He embraces his new, if unfamiliar, role in the game, but he hopes to becontributing in a meaningful way soon. As far as the expectations from the Rays, he said, it's to hopefully jointhe team and be some kind of force for the team at the major leaguelevel." In any language, thats music to the Rays ears.

Longoria set for tests Tuesday on sore left knee

The official word on Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria was that he had soreness behind his left knee and would undergo further testing Tuesday. "Kind of a day-to-day gig right now," manager Joe Maddon said. Longoria was hurt while caught stealing in the third inning. His foot got caught on the foot of Seattle Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan, who tagged him out...

Matsui signs minor league deal with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Hideki Matsui has signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, and the two-time AL All-Star will report Wednesday to extended spring training in Port Charlotte. Tampa Bay wants to add depth in the outfield and at designated hitter. The 37-year-old has played nine seasons in the major leagues, including seven with the New York Yankees. Matsui...

Evan Longoria Down, Rays Out?

Evan Longoria has a partially torn hamstring. He’ll miss at least four weeks and as many as eight while he rehabs the injury. His team is left with a slim four-and-a-half game lead on last-place Boston and two months without their star. Their internal options may not seem scintillating, but they could do just enough… provided Longoria can return healthy. First, let’s set the...

Evan Longoria exits Monday's game with left knee injury

Evan Longoria made his second attempt to reach his 2011 steals total (3) on Monday night, but his left knee prevented him from getting there.  Longoria was caught stealing for the third time this year and injured his knee in the process, forcing him to exit early from the Rays' 3-2 win over the Mariners on Monday night. There isn't much to update as to the extent of the...

Rays' Longoria out 4-8 weeks

A few hours after denying a report that third baseman Evan Longoria will be sidelined 6-8 weeks with a hamstring injury, the Tampa Bay Rays acknowledged Thursday afternoon that Longoria will be out 4-8 weeks with a partially torn hamstring. Longoria left Monday's 3-2 win over the Mariners with soreness behind his left knee with a "hamstring-knee issue." The St...

Longoria placed on 15-day disabled list

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria has been put on the 15-day disabled list with a partially torn left hamstring that's expected to sideline him four to eight weeks. The Rays received the test results before Tuesday night's game against the Seattle Mariners. Longoria is hitting .329 with four homers and 19 RBI. The three-time All-Star was...

Rays' minor leaguer Beckham suspended 50 games

Tampa Bay Rays minor-league shortstop Tim Beckham has been suspended for 50 games for a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse, Major League Baseball announced Tuesday. Beckham, 22, is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Durham Bulls of the International League. He is hitting .204 with no homers for Durham this season...

Rays' bats help Shields pick up 5th win

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Sean Rodriguez and Luke Scott homered for Tampa Bay, helping Rays right-hander James Shields become the AL's first five-game winner with a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night. Shields (5-0) allowed four runs and five hits, walked four and struck out 11 over six innings to win his sixth straight decision over two seasons -- matching...

Minor League Drug Suspensions – Where to be Concerned?

Former Tampa Bay Rays’ first overall pick Tim Beckham was suspended by Minor League Baseball for failing a drug test. While the drug name was not released, it is known to be a Drug of Abuse, or non-PED. Seeing this made me wonder if recreational drugs caused more suspensions and got me to look at the 29 suspensions from this year. They can be broken into 4 categories: Drugs of...

Rays' Evan Longoria headed to DL

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria has a partial tear of his left hamstring.

Rays 3, Mariners 2(12)

Elliot Johnson hit an RBI single with one out in the 12th inning, giving the Tampa Bay Rays a 3-2, comeback victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night. Playing before a crowd of just 9,458 - smallest at Tropicana Field since September 2007 - the Rays twice rallied from one-run deficits before winning it against Brandon League (0-2), who failed to hold a 2-1 lead the Mariners...

Rays prospect Tim Beckham suspended 50 games

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop prospect Tim Beckham, the #1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, was suspended for 50 games today for violating the minor league substance abuse policy, as tweeted by the official MiLB account. Former No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham of Tampa suspended 50 games for drug of abuse -- second violation. More to come. — (@MinorLeagues) May 1, 2012 ...

Rays 3, Mariners 1

Matt Joyce had two of Tampa Bay's three hits, including a solo homer and RBI triple, to help the surging Tampa Bay Rays beat the Seattle Mariners 3-1 for their ninth victory in 10 games on Tuesday night. Rookie Matt Moore (1-1) scattered seven hits over five innings to get the win, which kept the first-place Rays atop the AL East standings. Michael Saunders had a solo homer...
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