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Rays sticking with washed-up, .147-hitting Hideki Matsui

Jul 23, 2012, 11:19 AM EDT

Hideki Matsui Reuters Reuters

Tampa Bay called up Hideki Matsui last month despite his hitting just .170 in 13 games at Triple-A, so the fact that they’re now sticking with him despite his hitting .147 in 34 games in the majors follows that same line of (weird) thinking.

Matsui is 38 years old and hasn’t been healthy and productive in the same season since 2010, but for some reason the Rays’ decision-makers remain convinced that he has something left in the tank even when evidence to the contrary continues to pile up.

In addition to hitting .147 he has an ugly 22/8 K/BB ratio with just two homers in 103 plate appearances and has been particularly brutal in key spots, going 2-for-22 (.091) in “close and late” situations. Toss in his total lack of defensive value and … well, the whole situation is pretty confusing.

Here’s how manager Joe Maddon tried to explain the ongoing faith in Matsui:

You have a man of his caliber, a man of his esteem on the bench right there. I know he’s been struggling but at any moment it could possibly pop up and bite you in a good way.

Dating back to the beginning of last season Matsui has hit .235 with a .305 on-base percentage and .361 slugging percentage in 175 games and he was terrible in a two-week stint at Triple-A. While the Rays and Maddon wait for Matsui to “pop up and bite you in a good way” he’s costing them runs and games.

  1. pmcenroe - Jul 23, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    cough::cough Vlad Guerrero cough::cough

  2. jasoncollette - Jul 23, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    He has had 20 plate appearances in July and 26 men have been on base for him to drive in. He’s drive in ONE.

  3. cur68 - Jul 23, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Maddon on crack? Get Wily Mo Peña, for Dog’s sake. He’s at least justifiable for power if you don’t mind the SO rate.

  4. alexo0 - Jul 23, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    “Pop Up and Bite You in a Good Way” will be the title of the porn featuring Matsui in 2 years.

  5. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Having a manager as incredibly stubborn and loyal as Maddon has both its ups and downs. On the one hand, you get results like pinch hitting Dan Johnson in the biggest at bat of the season and having it actually work, or somehow keeping his team believing that they could make up a 9.5 game deficit in the final month.

    On the other hand, you get him continuing to stick with guys like Matsui, hitting coach Derek Shelton, and refusing to let the them take batting practice despite the hitting being absolutely atrocious. After a while you learn to deal with his methods and be thankful for all the good it brings, but I’d be lying if I said stuff like his insistence on sticking with Matsui doesn’t get extremely frustrating.

  6. mybrunoblog - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    When to the Indians part ways with light hitting Johnny Damon and his .231 ba ? Damon and Matsui were great players but it is time to go.

  7. raysfan1 - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Mybrunoblog–right now I’d be happy to have Damon back with the Rays to replace Matsui, what with .231 being .084 higher than what Matsui has put up. In fact, Matsui is making Mario Mendoza look like Edgar Martinez by comparison.

  8. hitem396 - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    do Rays have Sizemore? oh they got super sam..

  9. Dave Barker - Jul 23, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I’m not saying I actually agree with this, but there was talk on the radio in Tampa this morning that they might be playing him for the Japanese advertisements behind home plate.

  10. Detroit Michael - Jul 23, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    I’m sure Manny Ramirez would like to hear from the Rays. It went so well the last time around.

  11. dbulls - Jul 23, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    Why not bring up the Big Power hitting Henry Wrigley from AAA Durham ? I’ve been watching him all year and he’s been completely dominating. Hitting over .450 in July OPS over .1000 Give the kid a shot ! Quit overpaying the has Beens. Alot cheaper too.

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