While the Athletics plan to give Manny Ramirez more time in the minors to get tuned up for major league pitching, the Rays are going a different route with Hideki Matsui.
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Matsui is expected to be added to the Rays’ roster tomorrow. It’s a bit of a surprise to see him join the big league club so quickly, as he’s hitting just .170 (8-for-47) with two doubles, four RBI and a 10/4 K/BB ratio over 13 games with Triple-A Durham.
Of course, the Rays don’t have much to lose if Matsui turns out to be a bust, as he’s set to make a prorated salary of around $900,000 when he is added to the major league roster. The 38-year-old figures to share at-bats with Luke Scott out of the designated hitter spot.
Matsui batted .251/.321/.375 with 12 home runs, 72 RBI and a .696 OPS in 141 games with the Athletics last season.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.