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Rays sign Hideki Matsui to minor league deal

12:35 PM, Apr 30, 2012   |    comments
Hideki Matsui playing for the Oakland A's in 2011.
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St. Petersburg, Florida (Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays have signed outfielder Hideki Matsui to a minor league contract.

Matsui will join his third different team in as many years since leaving the New York Yankees after seven seasons. The Yankees considered re-signing the Japanese star this past offseason, but instead inked Raul Ibanez.

The Rays said Matsui will join extended spring training in Port Charlotte.

Matsui, who will turn 38 years old in June, played 10 seasons in Japan before signing with the Yankees prior to the 2003 season. He played for the Yankees through 2009, helping New York to a World Series title and earning Fall Classic MVP honors in a six-game triumph over Philadelphia in his final season with the club.

The slugger spent 2010 with the Angels and 2011 with Oakland. He is a career .285 hitter in 1,202 major league games with 173 homers and 753 runs batted in.

"Over the past two decades, Hideki has been one of the most consistently productive hitters in the world," said Rays general manager Andrew Friedman in a statement. "We are happy to add his ability, approach and professionalism to our organization."

Matsui was a three-time Central League MVP in Japan. Last season, he became the first player to hit a combined 500 home runs in both leagues.

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