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"Courting Matsui": Hot Issue in ML

Posted November. 18, 2002 22:53,   


"Courting Godzilla!"

There is a scout war waging among ML teams to recruit the Japanese top star player Hideki Matsui (28).

Matsui played for 10 years in the Japanese pro baseball league with Giants. During the decade, he has maintained a batting average of 0.307, along with 332 homers. With these records, he has earned a nickname like Gozila and Monster Batter, symbolizing his powerful batting performance. In this season, he was also up to the expectations on him: 0.334 BA (2nd), 50 home runs (1st), and 107 RBI (1st). Therefore, the MVP title of the Central League went to Matsui.

Motivated in part by the success of Ichiro (Seattle Mariners), he has become a free agent by the end of this season. Once he has announced his intention to play in the ML, many teams are trying to recruit him.

ESPN ranks him 9th on the most promising free agents` list, which tells how his ability is appreciated in the United States.

During the Super Game, he played a little disappointingly. He just recorded a 0.148 B.A. with no home run and 2 RBI. Nonetheless, ML players like Jason Giambi of NY Yankees applauded him and said, "He has an excellent batting power. He might be better off than Ichiro."

Currently, NY Yankees is most aggressive in recruiting him among ML teams.

During the Super Game that took place in Japan, the team waged various promotions activities, putting Giambi and Williams up on the front.

In addition, the management of the team flew over to Tokyo, and paved the way for recruitment of Matsui. For example, Yankees and Giants signed up a friendly agreement, under which both teams will give privileges to each other in scouting and other activities.

In the meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles sent an e-mail to Matsui, showing its interest in him, and NY Mets is reportedly considering ways to scout him.

When the 7th Super Game, which took place on Nov. 17th at the Tokyo Dome, was over, Matsui waved his farewell to the crowd giving him the standing ovation on the mound.

He said, "During this series, I have realized that I have to learn more [to succeed in the ML]. I hope to show to my fans a Matsui who has grown up more."

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com