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Matsui named Player of Week06/01/2004 7:35 PM ET
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Last season, Hideki Matsui heated up at the plate when the calendar turned to June. This year, the Yankees' left fielder got a jump start on what he hopes will be a scorching summer, winning American League Player of the Week honors on Monday.
"I'm very happy," Matsui said through an interpreter. "It's a compliment to receive such an honor."
Matsui batted .524 (11-for-21) with two home runs, seven RBIs, a double, a triple and a .952 slugging percentage. He led the AL with a .655 on-base percentage and 12 runs scored, compiling 20 total bases. His on-base percentage was the highest weekly figure by a player in the AL this season.
Matsui recorded four multi-hit games this week, including two three-hit games, and set a career-high with four runs scored in the Yankees' 18-5 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Thursday. He feels that with a full year under his belt, he had been able to adjust to the pitching better this season.
"Being able to take advantage of last year's experience has really contributed to that," he said. "I feel more comfortable."
"I still think he's going to hit 25 home runs," manager Joe Torre said. "He seems so much more comfortable. When he goes up to the plate, there isn't as much mystery on his part, thinking, 'Who is this guy and what is he doing to me?'"
This is Matsui's second career weekly award, having won last June 29.
With teammates such as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield heating up in front of Matsui, pitchers have had to throw him more strikes. The result? A team-leading .320 average, eight home runs and 33 RBIs.
"With players like that hitting before me, it's a big help," Matsui said. "I don't know if this will be the best I feel all season, but I've been able to see the ball pretty well and get into the game. I feel really good at the plate."
Other candidates included Oakland's Mark Kotsay (AL-best .583 with a Major League-leading 14 hits); Tampa Bay's Aubrey Huff (.520, three HRs, six RBIs, ML-high 24 TB); Boston's Manny Ramirez (three HRs, eight RBIs, AL highs with 1.000 SLG and seven BB); Kansas City's Ken Harvey (.542, two HRs, six RBI); Cleveland's Travis Hafner (.471, HR, eight RBIs); and New York's Jeter (.400, AL-high six doubles, seven RBIs) and Tony Clark, who batted .360 and tied teammate Enrique Wilson for the AL high with 10 RBIs.
Pitchers on this week's ballot were Victor Zambrano (2-0, 0.68 ERA, 13 1/3 IP, AL-high 15 SO) of the Devil Rays and Texas' Kenny Rogers, baseball's first eight-game winner of the season.
In honor of the award, Matsui will receive a Tourneau luxury Swiss timepiece from its Safari collection.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.