NARITA, Japan - World Series MVP Hideki Matsui is confident he can make a return to the outfield next season when he suits up for the Los Angeles Angels.
Matsui returned to Japan on Wednesday, two weeks after reaching agreement on a US$6-million, one-year contract with the Angels.
Slowed by surgically repaired knees, the 35-year-old Matsui is likely to replace Vladimir Guerrero as Los Angeles' primary designated hitter but said he still wants to play outfield.
"I'd like to prove I can play defence at spring training," Matsui said at a news conference. "It will be difficult to play defence every day like in the past but I'd like to reach the point where I'm able to play defence once every few games."
Matsui hit .274 with 28 homers and 90 RBIs last season as a designated hitter for the New York Yankees. He was selected World Series MVP despite starting only three of the six games against Philadelphia, going 8 for 13 (.615) with three homers and eight RBIs and tying a Series record by driving in six runs in Game 6.
Matsui said he heads to the Angels with a mixture of excitement and unease.
"I'm somewhat anxious but there's a lot to look forward to," Matsui said. "I want to be able to use to the fullest all that I've worked on until now."
Matsui joined the Yankees in 2003 after a standout career as an outfielder for the Yomiuri Giants, playing 1,250 consecutive games.