For the third straight season, Hideki Matsui is returning to Yankee Stadium in a different uniform.
In 2010, it was with the Angels and his return happened to be the same day the Yankees received the championship rings that Matsui’s six RBI in Game 6 helped them attain.
Last year it was with the Athletics and this year it’s in the light blue of the Tampa Bay Rays, whom he joined last week.
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“It’s the third year now and every year it’s been a different uniform, so I’m pretty used to it,” Matsui said through an interpreter before last night’s game.
Matsui was in the visiting dugout because there was not much need for a 37-year-old designated hitters. The Rays were the only team to offer Matsui a contract.
“I’m not getting any younger, so given the circumstances, I’m not surprised,” Matsui said. “That’s something that can’t be helped. This is a world where you really have to prove yourself. So I accept the situation.”
Matsui is wearing number 35 since his old number 55 belongs to starting pitcher Matt Moore.
“The three is for my mentor and former manager and also [former Yankees pitcher Mike] Mussina used to wear that number,” he said. “So hopefully I can end my career with the kind of numbers [Mussina put up].”
Robertson nears return
Yankees reliever David Robertson spent part of yesterday throwing 35 pitches in a bullpen session with the next step facing live hitters.
If that goes well, he will likely appear in a minor league rehab game.
In terms of returning Robertson to the closer role, it sounded like manager Joe Girardi is leaning towards retaining Rafael Soriano in the role.
“We’re probably going to put Robby in some situations in the eighth inning when he comes back and then we’ll just go from there,” Girardi said. “Soriano has done a very good job, whatever we’ve asked him to do. We feel that they’re interchangeable. Sori has the experience down there.”
Soriano got his first save opportunity May 10 and had converted all seven opportunities with a 1.29 ERA prior to last night’s game.
“Let’s just get Robby back and see how he’s throwing the baseball, but I expect that we’ll try to insert him into the eighth inning to start out,” Girardi said. “I would love to be able to do that, eighth inning and a lead.”
Ty goes to the Yankees
The Yankees have drafted only two high school pitchers who went on to appear in pinstripes. They hope Ty Hensley will be the third.
Hensley was the Yankees’ top pick (No. 30 overall) in Monday’s draft.
“We’re excited to get a guy with such a high ceiling,” amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer said in a statement released by the team. “He has the ideal body for a high school pitcher as well as power stuff and has the ability to be a high-end starter. He’s demonstrated a quality makeup and has shown himself to be a hard worker, which makes him a quality pick for us.”
Hensley, who is from Santa Fe High School in Edmond, Okla., was 10-0 with a 1.52 ERA in 11 games his senior season. He struck out 111 in 55 1/3 innings, was the state’s high school player of the year and ranked by Baseball America as the No. 11 high school pitcher.
Hensley is slotted at $1.6 million and if he is unable to reach an agreement with the Yankees by July 13, he will pitch for the University of Mississippi. The school also had signed Met first-round pick shortstop Gavin Cecchini for next year.
If that happens, Hensley will follow the direction taken by Gerrit Cole. Cole did not sign with the Yankees after being drafted in 2008, starred at UCLA, was the top overall pick by the Pirates last year and currently is pitching for Sinle-A Bradenton of the Florida State League.
If Hensley signs, he will try to become the third high school pitcher taken in the first-round to actually pitch for the Yankees. Phil Hughes is the second, having made his debut three years after being taken in 2004 and Bill Burbach was the first, having pitched 37 games for the team between 1969 and 1971 before being traded.
The Yankees have used their first-round pick 11 times on a high school pitcher.
Last year Robinson Cano held off Adrian Gonzalez in the home run derby and this year he is participating in the event again.
But not only is he a participant, Cano also was named captain of the American League team. And if he has his way about it, he said teammate Curtis Granderson would be selected.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher for more news on the Bronx Bombers.