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Hideki Matsui reports to camp — where might he hit in A’s lineup?

We had a little more intrigue than normal in the A’s clubhouse this morning with Hideki Matsui reporting. He’ll work out and then finish shooting the commercial he began filming Saturday at Papago Park.

Dallas Braden had a gift waiting for Matsui at his locker: A large inflatable Godzilla doll dressed in an A’s uniform. Very quality effort, though the reaction once Matsui arrived was a bit awkward. Matsui saw the doll but wasn’t quite sure how to react to a room full of people staring at him. And the rest of the A’s weren’t quite sure whether to clap. Somewhere, a pin dropped and I clearly heard it. It was a good gesture, however, to welcome Matsui. It will be interesting to see how he assimilates into the clubhouse with the language barrier, but he’s got a reputation for being a great guy, and he’s plenty used to the situation after eight seasons in the United States.

With 30-35 members of the Japanese media on hand (that’s what’s expected as a daily turnout this season), manager Bob Geren had a big crowd for his morning media session. He said he hadn’t decided where Matsui would bat in the order, but he’s considering him in the fourth or fifth spot. A logical batting order would go Crisp, Barton, DeJesus, Willingham and Matsui in the 1-5 spots. But Geren said he doesn’t want more than two lefties hitting together in a row near the top of the lineup. And against right-handed pitchers, Willingham would be the only right-handed bat with the switch-hitting Crisp batting from the left side. So perhaps we could see an order that goes Crisp, DeJesus, Willingham and Matsui in the top four spots, with Barton dropping down a bit. It’s not clear how this will shake out right now. Geren said he probably won’t start playing an opening day-type lineup until the second half of the Cactus League schedule.

It’s freezing today, by the way. Not that I expect a lot of sympathy from readers in the Bay Area, as I hear it’s been nasty there too. We got heavy rain last night, and the temperature is in the low 50’s right now. OK, so it’s not that cold, but it’s all relative. When it’s normally in the 70’s here, you want to crank up the heater on days like this.

That’s all for now …

Joe Stiglich