Dodgers targeting Hideki Matsui as bench bat

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Athletics general manager Billy Beane indicated earlier this week that he’d like to go younger with the DH spot next season, which means that Hideki Matsui will almost certainly be playing elsewhere next season. His search for a job may lead him to an interesting place: the National League.

Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts was told by Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles via email that Matsui is among at least three names the Dodgers are considering as a left-handed bat off the bench.

Matsui, 37, has spent all nine of his MLB seasons in the American League. He is coming off the worst season of his career, though, hitting just .251/.321/.375 with 12 homers and a .696 OPS in 141 games.

There are plenty of one-dimensional aging DH-types available this winter, including Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon and, yes, even Manny Ramirez, so with Matsui’s skills in decline, a bench job might be the best he can do. We probably wouldn’t see him in the outfield much due to his knees, but he did play 27 games in left field with Oakland this past season.

Anderson shines, Braves shut out Reds again to sweep series

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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ATLANTA — Ian Anderson dazzled during another shutout performance, as the Braves won a playoff series for the first time in almost two decades thanks to 5-0 victory against the Reds.

Ronald Acuna Jr. had three hits for the NL East champions, including a run-scoring double in the fifth. After winning Wednesday’s series opener 1-0 in 13 innings, Atlanta broke open Game 2 on two-run homers by Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall off Raisel Iglesias in the eighth.

Anderson struck out nine in six innings as the Braves snapped their record-tying string of losses in 10 consecutive postseason rounds since their last playoff series win in 2001. Atlanta will face Miami or the Chicago Cubs in the NL Division Series in Houston.

Just like in 2001, when Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz helped lead the way, Atlanta’s pitching staff delivered.

The 22-year-old Anderson allowed two hits and walked two in his playoff debut after six regular-season starts. Will Smith, Chris Martin and Mark Melancon each threw one perfect inning.

Cincinnati wasted a solid performance by Luis Castillo, who struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings in his first postseason start. Trevor Bauer struck out 12 in 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the Reds’ Game 1 loss.

Atlanta jumped in front in the fifth. With two outs, Austin Riley took off from first base on a pitch Acuna lined into the gap in left center. Riley scored easily and Acuna stood on second base, pumping both fists in the air in celebration.

Cincinnati left 13 runners on base Wednesday, and its scoring frustrations continued.

Anderson’s second walk of the second, to Freddy Galvis, loaded the bases with two outs. Tucker Barnhart‘s groundout to second base ended the inning.

The Braves had been 0-7 in their last seven potential clinching games in the postseason, including 0-2 in their NL division series loss to St. Louis last year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: C Curt Casali, who normally starts with Castillo, was held out due to a sore wrist before entering the game in the eighth. Barnhart, who has split playing time with Casali, was the starting catcher.

Braves: After sitting out the final two regular-season games with a sore quadriceps, Riley had no setback in the series opener. That doesn’t mean Riley is fully recovered. “I think he’s sore,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I don’t think this is something that is just going to go away. … He’s just going to have to manage it. I think he’ll be all right. He just has to be careful out of the box and on certain plays.”

UP NEXT

Reds: Will play the Cleveland Indians in their 2021 spring training opener on Feb. 27 in Goodyear, Ariz.

Braves: Will face Miami or the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the NL division series in Houston on Tuesday.