OAKLAND, Calif. – Hideki Matsui figures if he has a good season in his first year with the Oakland Athletics it could provide some strength for his struggling countrymen back home in Japan.
His new club wants to do its part, too.
Matsui and the A's announced Tuesday they have already raised more than $50,000 to help with relief efforts in Japan after the 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami devastated his homeland March 11 and killed thousands. Matsui separately donated $620,000 himself.
"It's been a sad story," Matsui said before Oakland hosted the San Francisco Giants in an exhibition game. "Hopefully I can play well and this could provide some good news for the people in Japan. I have nothing but appreciation for the efforts the A's have gone through for this. It happened in such a faraway place."
Hiroshi Inomata, Japan's consul general in San Francisco, expressed his gratitude to Matsui and the A's for quickly going to work to aid those in need. Oakland will donate $1 for every ticket sold to this Sunday's game — Japanese Heritage Day — against Seattle to the Red Cross for relief efforts in Japan.
The uniforms worn by Matsui and fellow Japanese star Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners from the their opener Friday night in Oakland will be framed and auctioned off Sunday to help the cause.
"The message I hope I can convey to the people is, 'Hang in there and give it your best,'" Matsui said.