NEW YORK Hideki Matsui last played in the majors in 2012, but the international star still finds himself connected to the game.
Known as Godzilla during a 20-year career that spanned Japan, New York, California and Tampa Bay, Matsui is now doing what he can to give back to baseball at multiple levels. Speaking with Sporting News, he talked about retirement, working for the Yankees, transitioning to America and more.
The conversation has been edited for clarity and length. Answers were relayed by Roger Kahlon, Matsuis interpreter.
SPORTING NEWS: First off, congratulations on recently breaking Hideo Nomos record and becoming the youngest player inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. How did you find out and what was your reaction?
HIDEKI MATSUI: Thank you very much. I actually received a phone from the Japanese Hall of Fame directly and they notified me of induction.
SN: Was this something you expected? Is there a lot of debate Miami Hurricanes Jersey when it comes to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame like there is in America?
HM: I had no expectations at all. I had heard through the media that I was eligible for the Hall of Fame. That was the extent. I really had no expectations. As far as the debate, its something thats really beyond my understanding.
SN: You were obviously born and grew up in Japan, you played there for 10 years, youre a star there. But youve been living in New York City and Connecticut with your wife and son. Why did you decide to live here and not back home in Japan?
HM: I ended my career here, I was here. We were expecting a baby at the time, so it was kind of the natural flow of events. We wanted to focus on our family once the baby was born. Before we knew, all the years had gone by and were still here.
SN: Youve been retired for six years. Do you mi s playing at all and how are you occupying your free time these days?
HM: I dont really mi s playing at the highest level, Dewan Hernandez Jersey competing in the major leagues. Thats not something I really mi s. I still enjoy playing baseball on a leisurely, casual basis. The love for the game is still there. As far as how I spend my time, I work as a special adviser for the Yankees, so I go around to minor league teams and share my knowledge and expertise. Aside from that, I just spend time with my family.
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SN: I wanted to ask you about the special adviser role. What does that entail and what have you learned from it being on the front-office side of things?
HM: My focus has been Double-A and Triple-A. So I go to the games, I work with the coaches, I observe the players and offer whatever feedback I can provide with hopes of helping the players. I also watch the games and how the players approach the game. Anything I can pick up and then provide feedback that I feel will help players is what I focus on. I also report back to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman with the progre s of those players. As far as being in the front office, I don't think my perspective of baseball has really changed much. Even though I'm on the front-office side, I think that mindset of wanting to do whatever is nece sary to help the ballclub is still the same. The context and my responsibilities may be different, but that mindset hasnt really changed.
SN: Whats it like working with Brian Cashman?
HM: My primary duty is to report back to him on the progre s and status of players , and it's only on a periodic basis. There's not a whole lot to it. It's interesting because as a player, I always interacted with him on a regular basis Having known him since my playing days, hes very easy to work with.
SN: When you talk about the progre s and feedback regarding these players, are you talking about off the field? Are you giving them pointers on their swings? What does that look like?
HM: Its primarily two things: hitting mechanics and their approach to the game. So those are the things I watch and provide feedback to the player and the coach.
SN: Over the years weve seen more and more Japanese players make the transition to America. You were one of, if not the, first former Japanese players to hold a front-office position. With that in mind, do you feel there is enough Japanese representation in MLB front offices as Dejan Vasiljevic Jersey more players make the switch?
HM: Its hard to say. I could see that as players come here and sort of relay their experience back to Japan, I could see a lot of value there that could help Japanese baseball. As far as more players coming here and then staying here and eventually representing the ballclubs Chris Lykes Jersey , its hard for me to say because thats really up to the individual whether they decide to stay or if that opportunity is even there.
SN:On that note, lets talk about Shohei Ohtani. Have you had a chance to see him play at all? What are your expectations for him on the mound and at the plate?
HM:Ive watched him a little bit on TV. Ive watched clips of him, so I really dont have much knowledge about him, but hes played five years in Japan and hes come over here. Theres definitely a lot of expectations from fans around what he can do, what hes going to do, what hes able to do, how hes going to be able to perform here. There seems to be enormous expectations for him, but no one really knows how well hes going to perform here. Thats something to be seen.
SN: Now, you do know a little bit about Mike Scioscia and the Angels. You spent some time with them at the end of your career. What can Ohtani expect from his new team and manager?
HM: As far as I know, the people that were there with the Angels at the time when I played, a lot of them are still there. So hes with a good ballclub, hes surrounded by a great support environment, the Angels have a great fan base, so from my experience, I think he made a really great choice in signing with the Angels.
SN: Take me back to when you first came over from Japan. Is there anything you wish you knew back then or advice you would give to Ohtani and other Japanese players making the same transition?
HM: I can look back at myself when I first came to the majors and, based on experiences that I had, give advice that would apply to me. But I dont know Reggie Wayne Jersey if that advice would apply to him. Its hard to say because hes a different type of player. Hes not just a hitter, hes also a pitcher. There are things