07/16/2003 1:23 AM ET
Matsui enjoys first All-Star Game
Import goes 1-for-2 in his first Midsummer Classic
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Hideki Matsui got his first taste of the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night in Chicago, starting his first All-Star Game in the Majors. Matsui, a nine-time All-Star in Japan, said that his experience was a positive one, much like those he had in his home country.
Hideki Matsui singles in second inning of the 74th annual All Star game. (Mark Duncan/AP)
"I can't say that one is better than the other, because I enjoyed them both," said Matsui through an interpreter. "I really appreciated playing in Chicago. The atmosphere was great for playing. The game was very exciting."
Matsui went 1-for-2, singling in the second inning against San Francisco's Jason Schmidt, the National League starter. Schmidt had retired the first five American League batters before beaning Edgar Martinez with two outs in the second. That brought Matsui to the plate for his first All-Star at-bat.
"I wasn't nervous. It was like any other game," Matsui said. "Edgar had just gotten hit by a pitch, so I was worried about him. When I stepped to the plate, I was just trying to concentrate, get a base hit."
He hit the first pitch he saw from Schmidt to the opposite field, as it was just high enough to get over the head of shortstop Edgar Renteria.
"I smoked it," joked Matsui.
Matsui had two opportunities in center field, making catches on balls hit by Albert Pujols and Barry Bonds. Matsui grounded into a fielder's choice in his second at-bat, and was replaced by pinch-runner Vernon Wells.
"It was awesome," said Jason Giambi. "He went out and got a knock in his first at-bat, made a few great plays defensively. I know he had a lot of fun."
"That I could get a base hit and we could win the game, that was the ultimate," Matsui said. "I got my name in the lineup as a starter and got a base hit. It was a great experience for me."
The AL went on to win the game, 7-6, giving the Junior Circuit home-field advantage in this fall's World Series.
"If we can get to the World Series, this will be very good for us," Matsui said. "I'm happy we could help get home-field advantage for the American League."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.