A’s can’t wait for Matsui to start swingin’

GODZILLA TO CONQUER THE BAY — Matsui puts on his new Oakland Athletics jersey with the help of General Manager Billy Beane at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in California on Dec. 14. Kyodo News photo

OAKLAND, Calif. (Kyodo) — Hideki Matsui’s new Oakland teammates have welcomed him with open arms after the former World Series MVP finalized his deal with the Athletics on Dec. 14.

“To have Godzilla by the bay instead of Anaheim — that’s big for us,” pitcher Dallas Braden said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“It’s awesome. This guy brings a totally different ingredient,” said Braden, who threw a perfect game back in May.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki isn’t just counting on Matsui’s bat, but also on his leadership and experience to take Oakland to the next level. The Athletics were second behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West this past season with an 81-81 record.

“I like this,” Suzuki said. “I think it’s great for us young hitters to have a guy like Matsui around. It gives us someone to look up to. He’s done it all, he’s a champion and he’s a pure professional.

“Everyone says Oakland doesn’t have any pop, but adding Matsui gives us more power. It doesn’t matter how old he is, he’s a threat in the lineup, a presence.”

Matsui, who turns 37 next June, said during a Dec. 14 press conference at the Oakland Coliseum that he thinks the Athletics have plenty of upside, particularly in pitching with Braden, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez forming one of the most talented rotations in the majors.

The Athletics had the best ERA in the AL at 3.56 in 2010. But they scored 663 runs, which ranks 23rd out of the 30 major league teams, and had just 109 home runs, better only than the Houston Astros (108) and Seattle Mariners (101).

“There a lot of young players with outstanding talent on this team,” said Matsui, who grew up idolizing Oakland’s Bash Brothers in Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.

“The pitching is the biggest weapon. It just comes down to scoring runs. If I can help this team score runs, we have a chance of going to the playoffs.”

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