Matsui, Angels agree on 1-year deal

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Craig noted earlier that the Angels were in “serious discussions” with World Series MVP Hideki Matsui.

It turns out that the serious discussions will result in a serious relationship, as the New York Times reports that the sides have agreed on a one-year deal that will be announced as soon as Matsui passes his physical.

Matsui decided to take the Angels’ offer rather than wait and see if the Yankees would bring him back. It was probably a wise move by Matsui, because while the Yankees never closed the door to his return, they have been very wary of making a commitment. Matsui will receive $6.5 million from the Angels, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

This isn’t going to bother the Yankees at all. They clearly prefer Johnny Damon to Matsui, and with Curtis Granderson added to the mix that already included Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner (if he isn’t traded), and probably Damon, Matsui was smart enough to see the writing on the wall.

As for the Angels, it looks like they’ve found an OF/DH replacement for Vladimir Guerrero. Matsui is no spring chicken – he’s actually about eight months older than Guerrero. But he did manage 28 home runs last year, and with Guerrero seemingly aging faster than the Thanksgiving leftovers still sitting in my fridge, they must like Matsui’s upside better in a short-term deal.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.

Video: Brett Gardner goes deep for his first and second home runs of 2017

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It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:

Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:

Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.