Hideki Matsui still wants to play

Hideki Matsui

When the A's-Mariners matchup in Japan was announced, it seemed like a natural fit for Oakland to re-sign DH Hideki Matsui and create the dream matchup of Japanese baseball fans, Hideki Matsui against Ichiro Suzuki.

Well, Suzuki's been in the lineup the last two days, but Matsui is still a free agent looking for work.

Matsui spoke with Japanese reporters recently saying he's still working out, not just hitting, but also fielding and base running.

"The season will soon start. I wonder how long this will last," Matsui told reporters, as translated by YakyuBaka.com. "I have not spent so much time taking batting practice before. I have been able to thoroughly work on things I need to."

The 37-year-old Matsui hit .251/.321/.375 for the A's last season -- the lowest marks of his career. He hit just 12 homers in 141 games and 585 plate appearances. He started 27 games in the outfield, but the rest of the time was as the team's designated hitter.

Matsui's probably relegated to a mostly DH role now, and there don't seem to be too many spots available. One place he can look is to the past, with the Yankees. New York picked Raul Ibanez over Matsui in the offseason, but Ibanez has struggled this spring and if he continues to do so, Brian Cashman certainly has Matsui's number.

Matsui's one of several former all-stars looking for work, including Vladimir Guerrero (37), Derrek Lee (36), Miguel Tejada (37), Johnny Damon (38), Magglio Ordonez (38), Ivan Rodriguez (40) and Felipe Lopez (31). Guerrero has expressed interest in playing in Japan, while Matsui would likely be given a hero's welcome in his native country, where he was a star in high school and for the Yomiuri Giants.

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