Hideki Matsui knows his limitations
Hideki Matsui began Tuesday with 144 home runs, making him the major league’s Japanese home run king.
Though the Angels designated hitter’s fifth-inning single against the Cleveland Indians on Monday night gave him 1,000 hits, he has no illusions of becoming the Japanese hit king.
That title, of course, belongs to Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who began Tuesday with 2,055 hits, a figure Matsui would have to switch leagues to catch.
“If I played Little League and had a doubleheader every single day,” Matsui said through an interpreter, “then I might have a chance.”
Matsui, who had 1,390 hits in 10 years with the Yomiuri Giants, was asked about the significance of amassing 1,000 hits with the New York Yankees and Angels.
“I guess I never really pursued numbers,” Matsui said. “I’ve always been focused on what I need to do to help the team win. The milestone is an accumulation of going out there every day and battling and helping my team win.”
And how did Matsui celebrate the achievement? By going to Disneyland, of course.
Really. Matsui spent about 45 minutes Tuesday at the Anaheim theme park for a photo opportunity with Mickey Mouse, and he went on the “It’s a Small World” ride.
OK, the timing was a coincidence. The event was planned for weeks, but it fell on the day after Matsui’s 1,000th hit.
And don’t think his teammates didn’t know. As Matsui finished up an interview Tuesday, pitcher Jered Weaver walked by singing, “It’s a small world, after all. . . . “
Walk this way
Angels starting pitchers, according to Stats LLC, had the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in club history through 21 games, their 92 strikeouts and 32 walks giving them a 2.88-to-1 ratio.
The relievers? Not so good.
Before Tuesday, the bullpen combined for 46 walks, tied with the New York Mets for most in the major leagues.
Those with the most glaring problems: Brian Stokes (10 walks in 9 1/3 innings, Jason Bulger (seven walks in 7 2/3 innings) and Scot Shields (seven walks in 5 1/3 innings). Bulger walked the bases loaded Monday night, and Stokes gave up a home run and a walk.
“Those numbers are not good,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “As these guys get into the flow of the season, those numbers have to get better. But mixed in between some tough outings have been some really good outings.
“Jason, up until [Monday] night, got us out of some jams and pitched well. Stokes’ stuff was moving in the right direction, but he had some trouble getting the ball into some zones Monday. Those numbers have to improve. We can’t keep setting the table for guys.”
Scott Kazmir has not gained enough of a grasp of his slider to begin featuring it in games again, but the left-hander thinks he has a handle on why he lost a feel for the pitch.
“It’s a problem with my release point,” Kazmir said. “I’ve been casting it out there instead of throwing right through it, so I’m not getting any break. But I’m making progress with it, for sure.”
Kazmir relied almost exclusively on his fastball and changeup in his last two starts, wins over the Detroit Tigers and Yankees in which he gave up six earned runs and nine hits in 11 innings.
“I’m working on it as hard as I can, but once you’re in a game, if it’s not there, you can’t just keep working on it,” Kazmir said. “I just want to throw it enough to keep it in the batters’ heads.”
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