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Matsui ready for fresh start

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Hideki Matsui is looking forward to a fresh start with the Angels.

The 35-year-old joined the Angels after seven seasons with the New York Yankees by signing a one-year, $6 million deal in the offseason.

Matsui, who hit .274 with 28 homers and 90 RBIs last season, will counted on to replace the offense of Vladimir Guerrero, who signed a free-agent deal with the Rangers.

The 2009 World Series MVP told reporters through an interpreter on Thursday that his surgically repaired knees were not entirely at 100 percent but that he felt good, adding he would like to help the team in the outfield if he's healthy enough.

Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels would be careful with Matsui throughout spring, similar to the way they were with Guerrero, who also had knee problems.

"He'll get his work done and we'll be able to evaluate him, but it's certainly going to be what he feels comfortable doing," Scioscia said. "If he's going to go through drills and he can't come back and do it again the next day, I think some of those questions are going to be answered pretty quick."

Scioscia said he's hoping Matsui can be a key part of the batting order. Matsui figures to be the Angels' near full-time designated hitter as Juan Rivera is slated for left with Torii Hunter in center and former Yankees' teammate Bobby Abreu in right.

"We're excited to have him and we're excited to have him, hopefully, be that presence in the middle of our lineup," Scioscia said. "If you look at our lineup, I think Hideki is going to be one of the big keystones of where our lineup can get in a hurry. He's still an offensive force."