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03/27/08 2:53 PM ET

Matsui's marriage stuns teammates

Outfielder slips off unnoticed to New York to get married

TAMPA, Fla. -- At the beginning of Spring Training, Bobby Abreu and Derek Jeter placed a friendly cash bet on the table, wagering which Yankees player would get married first: Abreu, who currently has a girlfriend, or Jeter, who does not.

Hideki Matsui wanted in on the action, and in an decision both would laughingly regret, Abreu and Jeter obliged him. Ladies and gentlemen, we now have a winner.

Matsui slipped off and tied the knot with his 25-year-old bride in a New York chapel on Wednesday, somehow managing to keep his relationship below the radar of not only the Japanese media contingent trailing his career in the United States, but also his Yankees teammates.

"Basically, the only people I told about this were the immediate family," Matsui said through an interpreter. "I think that helped."

"Sometimes you should have all the information before you make a bet," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Matsui, 34, released a statement on Thursday that thanked his fans for their heart-warming support, and apologized for the sudden notice of his announcement.

"I, Hideki Matsui, was married yesterday in New York City," Matsui said. "The bride is a 25-year-old civilian and had been formerly working in a reputable position at a highly respected company."

Matsui said he was introduced to the woman in Japan after the 2006 season, and that the wedding plans -- a traditional ceremony, he said -- have been in the works for six months. He said she attended a few Yankees games last season.

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"I met somebody who felt right and that was it," Matsui said. "Hopefully, this event will be a good thing for me as a baseball player."

The announcement prompted handshakes and laughter in the Yankees clubhouse, especially from Jeter, who has repeatedly refrained that nothing surprises him in the universe surrounding the ballclub.

"Who told you that?" Jeter said quizzically, before dashing over to Matsui to check out the story for himself.

Mark it down. This, Jeter said, surprised him. Now, Jeter has a one year handicap to find a lucky lady and get hitched, or else dole out some cash to the Matsuis.

"He won," Jeter said. "I got one year? No chance. I'll give him the money today. That's pretty good, though. He's sneaky. I should have known he was up to something."

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