In for Joe Stiglich today, who’s getting an early jump on Boston …
Frustations are building up for the A’s high-profile designated hitter acquisition Hideki Matsui. For starters, he hasn’t been designated the past two days to be in the lineup against his old team, the New York Yankees, even though the Yanks have sent back-to-back right-handed pitchers to the mound, Freddy Garcia on Tuesday night and A.J. Burnett Wednesday afternoon. Matsui went 0-for-3 Monday, dropping his average in May to .197, and he is hitting just .222 with 3 homers and 19 RBIs for the season.
So why isn’t he in the lineup? Bob Geren made it plain and simple: He has better options right now. David DeJesus took two players’ spots Wednesday — he was in Matsui’s DH role and he also was hitting second in Daric Barton’s spot. Barton also got a second consecutive day on the bench.
“I think he’s struggling a little bit right now and we’ve got a couple of other guys swinging the bat pretty good, so I’m just putting some other guys in,” Geren said. “I fully expect him to be fine and contribute and have a fine second half.”
Geren is keeping the faith that Matsui eventually will respond.
“Everybody has hot and cold spells,” he said. “I fully expect him to be fine. I’ll get him back in there and I believe he’ll to have a good year for us, I really do. But right now, I’m kind of looking at it day-to-day and we’ve got so many guys who deserve playing time and he understands that. He’s been great about it, a real professional.”
Matsui doesn’t argue Geren’s position, but maintained that it’s going to be challenging to work through his slump if he’s not in the lineup. Does it hurt not to be playing against his old teammates?
“Regardless of whether it’s your former teammates or not, the desire for any player is to be able to play every day,” Matsui said through interpreter Roger Kahlon. “Obviously, realistically, I haven’t been contributing, so it’s a bit disappointing not to be out there.”
Matsui said he’s been in these kinds of slumps before. To wit, he hit under under .184 for Angels last year in May but responded to finish the season hitting .274 with 21 home runs. At this point last year, he had 7 homers along with 27 RBIs. It could be more difficult this year, however, because of the interleague situation and Oakland’s apparent decision not to play him in the outfield. Matsui only pinch-hit when the A’s played in San Francisco. The A’s still have a six-game National League road trip coming up at the end of the month.
Matsui, who until the past two seasons was never known as a slow starter, said flatly it will be difficult to overcome his hitting troubles if he doesn’t play.
“Obviously, not being able to play is kind of a difficult situation where in order to get out of a slump, you have to play,” he said. “But if you’re not playing, then it’s hard to get out of it. It’s one of those Catch-22 situations.”
Told of Geren’s confidence he will come out of his slump, he said, “I’d like to believe so, too, but in order for the results to come you have to play.”
Matsui was asked if he thought if a continued lack of production might jeopardize his place on the roster.
“As far as the decision of staying on the team, that’s not really my decision,” he said. “But as far as results, that applies to any player, and in order to play in this league, you have to be productive.”
Here are the lineups:
A’s: CF Crisp, DH DeJesus, 1B Jackson, LF Willingham, RF Sweeney, C Suzuki, 2B Ellis, 3B Kouzmanoff, SS Pennington. P Gonzalez
Yankees: SS Jeter, CF Granderson, 1B Teixeira, DH Rodriguez, 2B Cano, RF Swisher, C Martin, LF Jones, 3B Nunez. P Burnett