Matsui wants to nab Yanks deal before season

TAMPA, Fla. -- Hideki Matsui wouldn't mind wrapping up a
contract extension with the New York Yankees before the end of
spring training.

"I'd like to stay a Yankee as long as possible. That's my
desire right now," Matsui said Saturday through a translator at
New York's minor league complex.

Matsui, who worked out at camp for the first time Saturday, is
due $8 million in 2005, the final season of a $21 million,
three-year deal. He has a clause in his contract that requires the
Yankees to put him on waivers unless a new contract is agreed to by
Nov. 15.

Talks have not yet started between the Yankees and Matsui's
agent, Arn Tellem, though the sides probably will try to put
together a new deal during the spring.

The 30-year-old outfielder was a three-time MVP in Japan's
Central League before joining the Yankees in 2003. He hit .298 with
31 homers and 108 RBI last season after batting .287 with 16
homers and 106 RBI in his first season in New York.

Yankees manager Joe Torre doesn't believe Matsui would be
distracted if extension talks go into the regular season.

"If he is, I'd be surprised," Torre said. "He's too
professional. When you've been around the game as long as he has,
he knows what his job is. He's going to leave the rest of it to
what happens."

Matsui agrees.

"I don't think it would influence with my performance,
hopefully," Matsui said. "It would be nice if I don't get
questions like that during the season on a regular basis."

Matsui said New York's collapse against Boston in the AL
championship series didn't linger. New York became the first major
league team to lose a best-of-seven postseason series after taking
a 3-0 lead.

"Once we lost the series, that was it," Matsui said. "We left
it there. Once the season was over, I was thinking about next