- Before a pitch had been thrown in this year's World Series, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he had given some thought to using designated hitter Hideki Matsui in the outfield for the first time this season when the series switches to Philadelphia.
Given Matsui's performance in the Yankees' 3-1 World Series-evening win in Game 2 on Thursday night, Girardi is running out of reasons not to, bad knees and all.
In a series where Phillies pitching has handcuffed the Yankees' high-octane offense to three runs (two earned) through the first 18 innings, Matsui is 3-for-6 with a homer and walk, a .500 average New York can't afford to lose.
"That's something we're going to have to talk about," Girardi said of using the 35-year-old Matsui in the outfield for the first time this season. "We'll see how he's doing. We'll have to see. We'll make a decision when we get there. We have all day to think about it [during Friday's off-day.]"
Despite the ice wrapped around both his knees, Matsui, who went 2-for-3 and reached base three times, was confident his legs could hold up in the outfield at Citizens Bank Park.
Whether or not his legs can "hold up" is largely irrelevant. What is relevant is Matsui's ability to make plays in the outfield, and the preponderance of the evidence suggests he cannot.
As Jason points out, Matsui's never been a good outfielder ... and that was when he was getting plenty of practice. Matsui started only 22 games in the field last year, and this year he's not played a single inning out there. It would be one thing if the choice was between a poor-fielding Matsui and, say, Ben Francisco. But Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher were both exactly as good as Matsui this year, hitting-wise. The only reason to bump Swisher for Matsui is that Swisher, a switch-hitter, is more valuable coming off the bench than Matsui.
That, in fact, might point to the Yankees' one weakness. When the Yankees added Eric Hinske to their World Series roster, we all said, "Of course. The Yankees need another bat for the games in Philadelphia."
But I forgot about Matsui. If Matsui doesn't start in Philadelphia -- and he almost certainly shouldn't -- Joe Girardi will have two solid left-handed hitters on the bench, but not a single right-handed hitter. There was really nothing to be done about this; the Yankees simply didn't build a team that's specifically equipped to win by National League rules. Of course it's a small thing ... probably.