Notes: Matsui reaches milestone

Notes: Matsui reaches milestone

NEW YORK -- A bright green jacket doesn't quite fit the usual clothing style for Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui, but it will be a welcome addition to his wardrobe nevertheless.

Matsui entered play on Sunday with 1,999 career hits, combining statistics compiled in Japan, where he stroked 1,390 safeties for the Yomiuri Giants, and with the Yankees. With a double to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning on Sunday, Matsui earned admission to Meikyukai, a Japanese "Golden Players Club" based upon statistical plateaus.

"To be able to be a member of such a prestigious club, with select members like that, it's truly an honor," Matsui said through an interpreter. "My career doesn't end here. It's going to continue on. But certainly, it's an honor having been able to experience this."

In anticipation of Matsui reaching the 2,000-hit plateau, Japanese pitching legend Masaichi Kaneda has traveled to New York and is attending the series between the Yankees and Mariners.

Kaneda, the only Japanese pitcher to win 400 games, is the chief executive of Meikyukai. He concocted the idea of the exclusive club to complement Japan's version of the National Baseball Hall of Fame; pitchers can gain entry by compiling 200 wins or 250 saves.

In a postgame ceremony, Kaneda will present Matsui with the green jacket; Matsui compared it to the ones given at the Masters golf tournament, only more colorful.

Matsui will be Meikyukai's 46th member and 32nd position player, with inductees including Mariners center fielder Ichiro Suzuki, who coincidentally was in the building to help welcome Matsui to the club.

"It's not something that I was aspiring to reach, but it's certainly an honor," Matsui said.

When asked if it was the sort of jacket he might wear on a team charter flight, where dress attire is a requirement, Matsui laughed.

"I'll probably put it in a museum back home or give it as a gift to Ruben Sierra," Matsui said, referring to the former Yankees slugger, who was known for his outlandish style choices. "It'd probably fit his tastes."

Matsui said that he did not know how the Japanese media would be covering his entry into Meikyukai, but if his past exploits are any indication, chances are that the accomplishment will become a major news story.

"It's huge," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He's such a pleasure, right from the first day he's been around. We didn't realize how huge a person he was until we went to Japan and just watched the fans melt around him."

No problem: Alex Rodriguez was back in the Yankees' lineup on Sunday, one day after he was removed for precautionary reasons following a hit-by-pitch in the seventh inning.

Rodriguez was hit on the left elbow, near the protective guard he wears. He played the field in the top of the eighth inning but came out for the bottom half.

Torre said that had the game been closer, or had Chien-Ming Wang's bid for a perfect game remained intact -- Wang surrendered a home run to Seattle first baseman Ben Broussard with one out in the eighth inning -- Rodriguez would have stayed in.

Slumping sit-down: Sunday presented a chance for the Yankees to spell second baseman Robinson Cano, who has just one hit in his last 15 at-bats and six in his last 36.

Four of those hits came in the Yankees' victory at Texas on Tuesday, and Torre said that he has seen troublesome signs of Cano's free-swinging attitude cropping up.

"He's just not very selective," Torre said. "Yesterday, he had a real good at-bat when he hit the sacrifice fly and he hit it the other way, but right now, it looks like he's up there guessing a little bit. He's supposed to make more contact."

Miguel Cairo, who entered Sunday's play with four hits in eight at-bats against Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn, including a double and three RBIs, made the start at second base.

Don't get settled: Sunday's starter, right-hander Darrell Rasner, seemed quite comfortable with his fate before taking the mound against Seattle.

Leafing through a magazine at his locker, the 26-year-old Rasner even went against conventional baseball procedures, entertaining reporters in chit-chat on the day of his start.

Rasner said that he has accepted the fact that he will be optioned back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre following the start, his fourth of the season for the Yankees, because the team needs to clear a roster spot for right-hander Matt DeSalvo for Monday's start.

"There's nothing I can do," Rasner said, "except pitch well and leave a good impression."

Torre said that it's not likely the Yankees have seen the last of Rasner.

"He can come back in 10 days," Torre said. "It's not like it's a life sentence."

Scouting report: Torre offered the following analysis of DeSalvo, a 26-year-old right-hander who will make his Major League debut on Monday against the Mariners: "He's very stubborn-type pitcher. He's a sinker guy who'll throw either a sinker or changeup that acts funny, but he's down, down, down. He's a pretty good bulldog."

Meanwhile, injured right-hander Phil Hughes, on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, threw on flat ground on Sunday. The Yankees have been pleased to learn that an MRI taken on Saturday indicated that Hughes' injury may not have been as severe as originally believed.

Coming up: The Yankees will play the fourth and final game of their series with the Mariners on Monday, sending DeSalvo (3-0, 1.05 ERA at Triple-A) to the hill against right-hander Miguel Batista (3-2, 6.30 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on YES and ESPN.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.