Yankees reflect on Matsui in Tokyo
Cashman praises former DH during trophy ceremony
NEW YORK -- The World Series trophy that Hideki Matsui helped secure was on display in Tokyo on Monday, and the Yankees delegation on hand said that the Japanese slugger will be difficult to replace in their lineup.
While they have parted ways, general manager Brian Cashman said that bringing Matsui to New York will go down as one of the best moves he has made, according to a Reuters report.
"I've had some successful signings in Japan; I've had some unsuccessful signings in Japan," Cashman said. "Hideki Matsui will be one of the best deals I ever made.
"We will have future players from Japan on our roster. They will do everything in their power to try to help us win, but I doubt we'll find another Hideki Matsui."
After the player nicknamed "Godzilla" capped a strong season by driving in six runs in the clinching Game 6 of the World Series, the Yankees said goodbye to the designated hitter, as he went on to sign a $6.5 million contract with the Angels.
Matsui, 35, hit .292 with 140 home runs and 597 RBIs in seven seasons with the Yankees from 2003 on, carrying a lengthy consecutive games streak from Japan into '06 before injuries started to become an issue during his final seasons in New York.
Cashman told a media contingent that the former Yomiuri Giants star was prized by the Yankees not for his nationality, but for his skills as a player.
"We did not sign Hideki Matsui because he was Japanese, we signed him because he was a true champion and one of the world's more gifted baseball players," Cashman said.
Team president Randy Levine also praised Matsui, adding he hoped the Yankees did not lose Japanese fans with his departure.
"We know the great allegiance to Hideki Matsui -- he deserves it. He was a great Yankee," Levine said, according to the report. "Hopefully, people will still root for the New York Yankees."
The World Series trophy -- officially known as the Commissioner's Trophy -- was displayed on Monday at Tokyo's MLB Café alongside the Yomiuri Giants' 2009 Japan Series championship trophy, in the first instance of the two trophies being side by side.
Following an exchange of gifts and a brief news conference, the two trophies will remain on hand for fans to enjoy throughout the evening.
"We're very excited to be here, back in Japan," Cashman said. "It's a dream to be able to take this trophy from the States as world champions to Japan. Obviously when we signed Hideki Matsui in the beginning, the hope and dream was to have him join us and lead us to a championship.
"This is kind of full circle. We're glad to bring this thing here now and allow the fans of Japan to enjoy the world championship trophy."
The tour will continue with the trophy's first public appearance in China on Wednesday at 5 p.m. CST at the New World Department Store, located at No. 3 Chong Wen Men Wai Da Jie, Chongwen District, Beijing.
The Beijing Yankees, 2009 winners of the first annual Diamond Cup, which is given to the champions of Major League Baseball's "Play Ball" youth baseball program in China, are expected to be in attendance.
Yankees officials will meet with the China Baseball Association on Wednesday to further their cooperation agreement. The Yankees created a partnership with the CBA on Jan. 29, 2007, when the pair drafted a Memorandum of Understanding that formalized the CBA's first strategic alliance with a Major League club.
The trophy will make its Hong Kong debut on Friday at 2:30 p.m. CST at New World Development's recently-opened K11 mall at 18 Hanoi Road TST. Additionally, fans will be able to enjoy the trophy in its final public appearance in Asia, as it will be displayed among other world-class works of art.
The trophy tour in China is organized by QSL Sports, which has been active in the promotion of baseball in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and operates the China Youth Baseball League with the CBA. The hosts of the trophy events in China are QSL Sports, New World Department Stores and K11, which is known as the "World's First Art Mall."
"The New York Yankees have fans all over the world, and we're also very aggressive in trying to create new fans all over the world," Levine said. "We think the New York Yankees brand is maybe the most recognizable in sports. We have both New Yorkers and Yankees fans who live all over. We won this World Series for our fans everywhere."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.