06/09/2006 5:54 PM ET
Rockies acquire infielder Kazuo Matsui and cash considerations from New York Mets in exchange for outfielder Eli Marrero
Matsui optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs; OF Jorge Piedra recalled
DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies announced this afternoon that the club has acquired infielder Kazuo Matsui (mat-SOO-ee) and cash considerations from the New York Mets in exchange for outfielder Eli Marrero. Matsui has been optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs while outfielder Jorge Piedra (#3) has been recalled from Colorado Springs to take the open roster spot. Piedra is expected to be in uniform for tonight's game against Los Angeles.
Matsui, 30, became the first Japanese infielder to sign with a major league team when he joined the Mets on Dec. 17, 2003. The switch-hitter has batted .256 with 11 home runs and 75 RBI in 239 major league games, all with New York-NL over three seasons beginning in 2004. He has been successful in 22 of 26 stolen base attempts in the majors. Matsui has a .200 average with one home run and 7 RBI in 38 games/31 starts for the Mets this year. Originally signed as a shortstop, Matsui has played primarily second base over the last two campaigns.
Prior to signing with the Mets, Matsui batted .309 with 150 home runs and 569 RBI over nine seasons with the Seibu Lions in the Japanese Pacific League. He was an All-Star in seven of those nine seasons, and was also a seven-time member of Japan's Best Nine. Matsui was the Pacific League MVP in 1998 and earned four Gold Gloves in Japan. He was successful in 306 of 376 (81%) steal attempts in Japan.
Matsui began the season on the disabled list with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee and was activated on April 20. Matsui hit an inside-the-park home run in his first plate appearance on April 20 at San Diego, becoming the first player in major league history to begin his career with a home run in his first plate appearance for three straight seasons (2004-06). He also became the first player to hit an inside-the-park homer for his first long ball of the year since Johnnie LeMaster for San Francisco on Sept. 2, 1975 vs. Los Angeles. Matsui posted a hit in each of his first 8 games in 2006 and had a 9-game hit streak from May 3-14.
There have been two Japanese natives to play for the Rockies, both pitchers. Masato Yoshii made 29 starts for Colorado in 2000 while Mac Suzuki appeared in 3 games with one start for the club in 2001. A pair of other former Rockie pitchers, Craig House and Jeff McCurry, were born in Japan to U.S. military families.
Piedra, 27, will be looking to make his first appearance with the Rockies this season. He began the year on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis and was optioned to Colorado Springs at the end of his rehab. Piedra has played exclusively for the Sky Sox this year, batting .239 (33-for-138) with 6 home runs, 8 doubles, and 18 RBI in 41 games. Beginning May 12, he has batted .319 (23-for-72) over his last 21 games in the Pacific Coast League. Piedra has batted .305 in 99 major league games in his career. He hit .455 (15-for-33) as a pinch-hitter last year, matching the 2nd-highest pinch figure in the majors in the last 19 seasons (beginning 1987).
Marrero batted .217 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI in 30 games/13 starts for Colorado. He homered in 4 of his first 6 starts with the Rockies, but had one hit in his final 14 games and was 0-for-12 as a pinch-hitter.