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Matsui a possibility for Red Sox

Matsui a possibility for Red Sox

All indications point to the Red Sox wanting to bring free-agent outfielder Jason Bay back into the fold next season, and Matt Holliday has been brought up as an intriguing Plan B if that falls through.

But a Japanese Web site has added a new wrinkle: Hideki Matsui.

According to an insider quoted in nikkansports.com and translated by NPB Tracker, the Red Sox are preparing a multiyear offer for Matsui to be the team's regular left fielder.

The Web site added, according to NPB Tracker, that the Hanshin Tigers of Japan are no longer interested in Matsui because of his desire to stay in the Major Leagues, and it mentions the White Sox as another option for the 35-year-old lefty-hitting slugger.

When asked by Japanese reporters about signing Matsui at the GM Meetings in Chicago on Wednesday, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein played down the notion, saying, "We aren't thinking about it that deeply. Right now, we have our hands full with our own free agents."

Matsui, fresh off being named World Series Most Valuable Player after batting .615 with three homers and eight RBIs in the Yankees' Fall Classic triumph over the Phillies, was relegated to only a designated-hitter role in 2009 because of problems with his knees.

In 142 games for New York this season, Matsui batted .274 with 28 homers and 90 RBIs.

For his seven-year big league career, he is a .292 hitter with 140 home runs and 597 RBIs. At Fenway Park, he sports a career .331 batting average in 44 games.

If the Red Sox end up signing him -- though that seems like a long shot -- Matsui would have to play the field, with David Ortiz entrenched as the team's DH. Fenway Park's left field isn't very spacious, but he hasn't been healthy enough to play the position since '08.

Matsui recently said he's going to spend the offseason working on getting his knees into game shape to try to get back to playing the outfield.

"That's going to be a challenge that I'm going to have to work on during the offseason," he said. "Regardless of whether I could be back in the outfield or not, that's something that I'm going to be working on, trying to get back in the outfield to see how capable I can be."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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