Matsui to see time in outfield in NL ballparks

Matsui to see time in outfield in NL ballparks

Matsui to see time in outfield in NL ballparks
OAKLAND -- Hideki Matsui hasn't played a game in right field since 2008, when he was still with the Yankees. But that will likely change next week when the A's travel to New York and Philadelphia for Interleague Play.

A's interim manager Bob Melvin, who reinserted Matsui into the team's everyday lineup last week, said the slugger will see time in the outfield during the team's six-game National League road trip. Melvin said his decision to play Matsui in the outfield is due to the length of the road trip, adding that he would be less apt to play him there if it were just a three-game trip.

"I want to keep him current and I want to keep him getting current at-bats and consistent at-bats because he's done very well to this point," Melvin said. "There's a good chance you could see him get a start in the outfield, maybe once a series, then the other games doing the pinch-hitting thing. I've talked to him about it and he's comfortable with it."

Since Melvin took over the A's managerial duties, Matsui went 7-for-23 with three home runs, seven RBIs and five walks while batting third in the order as the team's designated hitter.

When Matsui does play the outfield during the six-game swing, it likely won't be in the left-field position he is accustomed to, but rather in right, where he has played only seven games during his Major League career. In 2008, the last time Matsui saw time in right field, he played three games and started two of them.

Despite Matsui's limited experience at the position, Melvin said the slugger is up for the challenge, even though he admitted playing right field at New York's Citi Field could present more of a challenge than Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park. The Mets' ballpark is deeper than the Phillies', with right-center field ranging from 378 to 415 feet away at Citi Field, compared to 369 feet to the power alley in right field at Citizens Bank Park.

"To his credit, he's up for anything," Melvin said. "It's never a problem. I just want to make sure I communicate with him. He'll be prepared, he told me he will be prepared and he's comfortable with that and however I need to use him."

The rest of the A's road trip, Matsui will be used primarily as a pinch-hitter, but Melvin didn't rule out the possibility of using him in a double-switch scenario or other situations that may arise in NL parks.

"I can get him an at-bat every day pinch-hitting, but when he's not playing every day in the outfield, he's also a piece you want to save for a big situation," Melvin said.