Signing of Matsui lauded by Maddon, players

Signing of Matsui lauded by Maddon, players

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays announced Monday that they signed Hideki Matsui to a Minor League deal, and he is expected to report to extended spring training on Wednesday after meeting with the media Tuesday at Tropicana Field. The reaction in the Rays' clubhouse was entirely positive, and everyone seemed pleased to have a hitter with his track record bolstering the organization's depth.

"It's absolutely wonderful to have this guy in our organization," said manager Joe Maddon, who offered no timeframe for Matsui to reach Triple-A or the Majors. "One thing Andrew [Friedman] always talks about is adding depth. During the course of a championship season, your depth is always challenged. My goodness, this is a wonderful person to have when you're considering depth within the organization."

Maddon first met Matsui at the 2003 All-Star Game, saying he's always been a big fan of the Japanese outfielder/designated hitter. Maddon praised Matsui's professionalism and tendency to come through in the clutch, also noting that he appeared to be moving better with Oakland in 2011 than he had in years past.

"They're getting a true professional, a wonderful teammate for a lot of guys, a wonderful friend in that room," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "To me, he was a great player for the Yankees and he had a pretty good second half last year. My thought is they're getting a good player and a good guy to have in the clubhouse."

"He's a real nice guy, real down-to-earth," said Rays outfielder Brandon Allen, who briefly shared the A's clubhouse with Matsui last season. "He'll help you out and talk to you. He's a guy you can learn from."

"He's had a tremendous career in Japan," said Rays DH Luke Scott. "He's had a tremendous career in the United States. He's done real well, especially in the American League East. He played for a world championship team. He's a great hitter. You look at it from the standpoint of the ownership, what would happen in the worst-case scenario with anybody? ... They've got to answer those questions and be prepared just in case."