Outfield a possibility for Yanks' Matsui
Slugger would otherwise have to come off bench in Philly
PHILADELPHIA -- Speaking at Citizens Bank Park prior to his club's Friday afternoon workout, manager Joe Girardi did not rule out starting Hideki Matsui at some point in the next three games even though the Yankees have lost the ability to use him as a designated hitter.
The Yankees' skipper, however, said right field -- where Matsui could potentially be subbed in for Nick Swisher or Jerry Hairston Jr. -- was the one lineup decision that he has left to sleep on before scribbling out his Game 3 card.
"I'm going to look at some things [on Friday], watch a little bit, see how he moves around and see if we think that it's physically possible for him to do it," Girardi said. "It's something that we have to look at, and if we can't do it, we'll use him in a role to pinch-hit when we feel that he can be most valuable to us."
Speaking through a translator, Matsui said on Friday that his knees feel just fine. But even he brought up concerns about how effective he would be if stuck out in the outfield for the first time since undergoing left knee surgery in September 2008. The procedure was Matsui's second knee surgery in a one-year span.
"If I were to be told to play the outfield, I think I could," Matsui said. "Could I really play the outfield the way I always played with the situation with my knees? That I really don't know until I test it out. That's really the best answer I can give. I really can't tell you what my confidence level would be until I go out there and play."
Prior to the start of the World Series, Matsui's only defensive work since mid-August had come in the form of shagging fly balls. The past few days, though, he has added ground balls to his early fielding work in order to further test out his mobility.
He's heating up
|ALDS vs. Twins||9||2||0.222||1||2|
|ALCS vs. Angels||21||5||0.238||0||3|
|WS vs. Phillies||6||3||0.500||1||1|
"I'm not frustrated at all," Matsui said of the change in DH rules. "You just can't help the situation. Those are the rules of the game. That's the role that I've accepted. You just have to make the best out of the situation."
If Girardi decides that Matsui's lack of mobility is too much of a liability, the Yankees will lose one of their best offensive performers so far in this World Series. After a 1-for-3 night in Game 1, Matsui reached base in three of four plate appearances in the Yankees 3-1 win in Game 2. Matsui's sixth-inning home run proved to be the eventual game-winner.
It may be a small sample space, but the good news for New York is that it actually saw its run production fall only minimally in the nine Interleague road games played without Matsui in the lineup this season. The club went 6-3 in those games, which came against the Braves, Marlins and Mets.
The Yankees averaged 5.67 runs per game in 153 games with the DH and 5.33 runs per game in the nine games played in National League ballparks. Matsui pinch-hit in eight of those nine games, going 1-for-6 with two walks. He is a career .333 hitter coming off the bench, which would certainly be an asset for Girardi.
"It's something that's been going on for years, and we're prepared for it if you can't use your DH," Girardi said. "You know, our club is not necessarily built to come into this ballpark, but our club is able to handle it."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.