Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Rays v White Sox: Matsui Era begins with start in LF
Posted May 29, 2012 by Roger Mooney
Updated May 29, 2012 at 05:55 PM
ST. PETERSBURG The Hideki Matsui Era began today at Tropicana Field and was greeted by at least 50 members of the Japanese media, who crowded around the dugout for the first glimpse at the newest Ray.
After his press conference, Matsui, 37, was welcomed back into the Rays clubhouse by his new teammates with the same treatment afforded those who deliver a walk-off hit.
Matsui, who was promoted today from Triple A Durham is in tonight’s lineup. He will bat sixth and play left field against the White Sox.
“I’m happy to receive the call-up and I will work hard to help the team win,” Matsui said through his interpreter, Roger Kahlon.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he will use Matsui in left field, designated hitter and as a pinch-hitter off the bench on days he doesn’t start. While both Maddon and executive vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman said they aren’t sure how much playing time Matsui will receive, but given all the injured players, he will likely be nearly an everyday player.
With Matsui in left, Matt Joyce moves to right tonight and Ben Zobrist moves from right field to second base against White Sox right-hander Philip Humber.
A career .285 hitter against both right- and left-handed pitchers, Matsui could serve as a DH platoon with the left-handed hitting Luke Scott.
Matsui, who wore No. 55 during the first nine years of his major league career, will wear No. 35 with the Rays.
“It was a number that was available,” he said. “It was nice to be able to keep one 5 out of the two.”
The Rays look to get back to their winning ways tonight against the White Sox. They begin the night tied for first place with the Orioles.
James Shields gets the start for the Rays.
Here are the lineups:
De Aza CF
Humber RHP (1-2, 5.80)