Matsui closing in on joining Triple-A team

Matsui closing in on joining Triple-A team

Matsui closing in on joining Triple-A team
BALTIMORE -- Hideki Matsui will travel to Toronto this weekend to obtain his visa. Although nothing is confirmed, it is anticipated that sometime Tuesday he will arrive in Durham to begin playing for the Rays' Triple-A affiliate in the International League. Due to the uncertainty of his arrival time, it is not known if he will play in the Bulls game Tuesday night.

Matsui, who signed a Minor-League deal with the Rays on April 30, has been playing for the Rays extended spring training team and has gone 8-for-18, including a home run Saturday.

"I've heard all good reports about him and how he's doing," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It sounds great. Like we said in the beginning, there's been no time frame attached [to him joining the Rays]. There's been no specifics attached to this whole moment except to go play, get ready and if there is a need and everything meshes, then we will be able to utilize him. It's good that he's looking as good as he [has] and that he's close to being ready. And then if we do need something it's going to be there for us."

Matsui was a nine-time All-Star in Japan (1994-2002) and a two-time American League All-Star (2003-04). While 25 players have reached 500 home runs in the Major Leagues and eight have done so in Japan, Matsui is the first to combine for 500 home runs in both leagues. He slugged No. 500 on July 20, 2011, at Detroit.

He played with the A's last season, where he hit .251 with 12 homers and 72 RBIs.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.