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Is it now safe to say that Hideki Matsui {Aka: Godzilla} is a born Red Sox killer?

I mean, does this man wear-out Red Sox pitching or what?!?! :shock:

In all sincerity, I ask this question to Red Sox Nation ... has it reached the point where you expect bad things to happen {for the Bosox} everytime this man steps to the plate?

Or better yet, has Matsui become the Yankee you fear the most?

I know that's the case with David Ortiz ... clearly the player I most fear on the Red Sox ... is the same true of Matsui for you?

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Matsui has performed well past my expectations. His swing is so fundamental, he has that classic Matsui look in his like a great sensi. Now he's spraying the ball opposite field and not relying on the pull everytime and has adjusted fully into Major Leauge Baseball, he will be a real tough out for opposing pitchers this year.

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Matsui has performed well past my expectations. His swing is so fundamental, he has that classic Matsui look in his like a great sensi.

Now he's spraying the ball opposite field and not relying on the pull everytime and has adjusted fully into Major Leauge Baseball, he will be a real tough out for opposing pitchers this year.

Matsui for MVP campaign has begun

Yanks left fielder has been hot with bat and glove against Sox

By Mike Bauman

It is never too early to begin the "Hideki Matsui for Most Valuable Player" campaign.

The New York Yankees have just won two dramatically different games against the Boston Red Sox -- 9-2 on Sunday night and 4-3 on Tuesday. But the one constant in these two contests was Matsui: three hits in each game, one home run in each game, five runs batted in overall, not to mention one game-turning catch.

Matsui was so good in the first two games of the season that he had to become the unofficial MVP leader in the clubhouse. We do not have to wait for the next 160 games to fully grasp an emerging trend.

But it is not just that Matsui was a dominant performer for the Yankees in the first two high-profile contests of the current campaign against the Sox. It is that, if you look at the progress he made from 2003 to 2004, from his first year in American baseball to his second, you contemplate what the progression from the second to the third season might be?

You could easily conclude that he might become "Godzilla" in the States, just as he was in Japan.

Yankees manager Joe Torre caught the trend. For Tuesday's game at Yankee Stadium, Torre moved Matsui from fifth to fourth in the Yankee batting order. Batting cleanup for the Yankees, some people might suffer from historical comparisons. But Matsui was up to the task, delivering three hits including a two-run homer.

"Matsui's an interesting player," Torre said. "A lot of times, if I hit him lower it's not because I don't think he's capable. It's because he has the ability to protect the people ahead of him. So he serves a double purpose. If he doesn't bat fourth, it doesn't mean you don't have the confidence in him. I think it's the reverse. You have more confidence in him."

Make that a triple purpose for Matsui in the lineup, if you consider that his work with the glove played a major factor in the Opening Night victory. His classic leaping grab of Kevin Millar's drive to left took a two-run homer away from the Red Sox in the second inning Sunday night.

Matsui is catching the eye of one and all. One Yankee Stadium visitor Tuesday was Commissioner Bud Selig, who said of Matsui: "It's amazing how far we've come in just a few years. I was just telling George (Steinbrenner) that the more you see him, the more you realize what a good player he is. That catch he made Sunday night was remarkable."

Matsui is a player who holds up extremely well under further scrutiny. In fact, he thrives under further scrutiny. The more you see him, the more you see the professionalism, the fundamental soundness of his game, the consistency of thought and effort.

"He's a true professional," Torre said Tuesday. "That's probably the highest compliment I can pay him."

One cultural theory and one cultural question arose in conjunction with Matsui's all-world start to this season. Perhaps he is reaching his full potential now because he has attained a comfort level with the American game, and with playing the American game in America.

"He's pretty impressive," Torre said. "And you could see it two years ago when he got here. He was good, he was feeling his way. And then last year, he got a little more comfortable. And this year, right from Spring Training, he seems to be seeing the ball real well and he's real confident.

"I think you settle in. It's tough enough when guys go from one team to another. When you go from one country to another, it magnifies it a little bit."

Matsui said, through an interpreter, that he had already achieved the necessary comfort.

"By last year, by my second year here, I was already pretty comfortable," he said. "So I don't really attribute it to that."

In fact, Matsui gives a great deal of credit to hitting coach Don Mattingly's daily work with him. The indisputable point is that Matsui had a highly productive season last year (30 home runs, 108 RBIs), and now he seems to be even better than that.

So, maybe he should more often hit fourth, in the classic run-production position. This is where he hit in Japan when he was Godzilla. Torre last season moved him around the Yankees lineup: second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, back and forth. This hasn't detracted from Matsui's performance. But that cleanup spot does come with a built-in status.

"My friends in the Japanese media keep telling me he doesn't like hitting second, but I get it from them, not him," Torre says with a smile. "When they start asking you where he's going to hit in intrasquad games, then you know it's very important.

"The first thing I did two years ago was to sit down with him and explain my thought process in the batting order. It's more gauged toward how I feel a particular day and setting up other people and protecting other people. He didn't seem to have a problem with that. Just the way he plays, if he likes hitting one place better than another, he certainly doesn't let it affect him."

"It really doesn't matter where I hit in the lineup," Matsui dutifully says. "Wherever I'm asked to hit is where I'll be hitting.

"In Japan, perhaps, yes, the cleanup hitter is considered to be the best hitter on your team, the most dependable one. On the other hand, I can only speak for my experience in the Major Leagues, which is with the Yankees. I think it's a little different in the sense that the cleanup hitter is the one who best fits that role at that time. The hottest hitter, I guess. At least that's the way I see it, based on my experience. It's a little different. Again, I don't know enough about the culture of baseball here."

That's good. That's very good. Not only is Hideki Matsui a terrific player, he may have tremendous potential as a diplomat.

Wherever he is hitting, Matsui is off to the kind of start that Yankee fans could only dream about, or that would be the stuff of nightmares for supporters of the Red Sox.

And if he needed to further endear himself to New York fans, there is this:

He is not exactly saving his best work for games against the Tampa Bays of the world. Including postseason games, he is now hitting .362 (76-for-210) against the Red Sox.

It is early, but MVP seasons need to start sometime soon. This is not an unreasonable scenario. With each passing season, Hideki Matsui's imprint on American baseball is growing larger.

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