Yankees will miss departing Matsui

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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Slugger Hideki Matsui will be missed by the World Series champion Yankees after joining the Los Angeles Angels, the New York club's owner and its highest-paid player said on Thursday.

Knee injuries prevented Japanese Matsui from playing in the outfield and the Yankees decided to replace him with a younger player, introducing 28-year-old center-fielder Curtis Granderson at a Yankee Stadium news conference.

Yet the impact made by Matsui, who won World Series MVP honors last season after driving in six runs in the championship-clinching victory over Philadelphia, was clear.

"As much as I try not to get emotional in business, he was a great Yankee and just a great man," Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner told reporters about the 35-year-old Matsui.

Rodriguez said the top order might function differently without Matsui and Johnny Damon, who is a free agent yet to sign with a club.

"One through four in our lineup, I don't think there was a better lineup in baseball, what we did together," he said.

"And obviously Matsui protecting me," A-Rod said about the slugger, who usually hit fifth in the order. "I just felt we could do a lot of different things to good pitching.

"Matsui is a professional hitter. When I walked and got on base he made guys pay. Obviously, Game Six (of the World Series) was a perfect example of that."

Granderson will add athleticism, Rodriguez said.

"But how that affects your offense is to be determined over the next eight months," he added.

"In a perfect world we would love to have every guy back. Unfortunately, there is the business side of things."

(Editing by Ed Osmond