And it’s about as even-keeled as you would imagine.
Hideki Matsui was only “vaguely aware” of what Ozzie Guillen said over the weekend, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, but after being informed of the context of his remarks, he said the following through his interpreter Roger Kahlon:
“I think the circumstances might be a little different for us vs. Latin
players. If Latin
players came straight to the big leagues after playing in professional
leagues in their own country like Japanese players do, then I think they
would be treated exactly the same as Latin players in those
“I think there’s a good chance the circumstances may be a little similar
for Cuban players who played professionally there then defected and
came over here.”
Can’t argue with any of that. Matsui also mentioned the disparity between Asian and Latino ballplayers, and how most of the time, Latino players have a built-in support system, while Asian players do not.
Matsui has only had one Japanese teammate (Kei Igawa, sometimes) during his time in the major leagues, and as we recently learned with Hideki Okajima, he has battled with loneliness and homesickness due to the cultural divide. In other words, nobody has it perfect.
Free agent right-hander Chris Tillman is narrowing his pool of potential suitors, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Returning to the Orioles is one option, of course, but Heyman also mentions another two undisclosed teams who are still in the running. An earlier report from Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun suggests that as many as four teams may be in the mix; either way, a final decision is expected by Monday.
Tillman, 29, has spent the entirety of his major league career in Baltimore. After posting career-high numbers in 2016, his progress was derailed during an injury-plagued 2017 campaign, during which he missed nearly six weeks on the disabled list with recurring right shoulder inflammation. He finished the season with a bloated 7.84 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 4.9 SO/9 over 93 innings.
While the mystery teams have yet to reveal themselves, the Blue Jays, Twins and Tigers have all expressed interest in the veteran right-hander this offseason. Both the Blue Jays and Twins have made big moves to bolster their rotations over the last few days, with the additions of Jaime Garcia and Jake Odorizzi, respectively. That doesn’t mean that Tillman is out of reach, however — if his price is right, he could provide some much-needed depth for pitching staffs that finished 15th and 22nd in the league last year.