July 22, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Hideki Matsui (35) reacts after he hit a pop up in the ninth inning to end the game against the Seattle Mariners at Tropicana Field. Seattle Mariners defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The End for Hideki Matsui

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Hideki, we’re not sure how to tell you this. You’ve been a great player, even a legendary player in your home country of Japan, for a very long time and that has been completely warranted. You reached the pinnacle of the game of baseball and have put together a career that has somehow lived up to the unbelievably high standards your countrymen set for you. You’re a professional in every sense of the world and a role model to too many people to possibly count. But I’m sorry, Hideki. It’s over. We don’t want to embarrass you. But you’re just not the same player anymore. Your bat speed is gone. Your power is fleeting. It’s tough to watch you play now. We only want the best for you. We want to treat you with respect. I know you don’t want your fans to remember you like this. Hideki, we’re going to give you a few more starts, a few more at-bats, but only until Sam returns. Hopefully you’ll get a hit in the clutch like you did so often earlier in your career, a hit that will give your many fans one more reason to cheer, and you will go out with pride. But even if the storybook-esque moment doesn’t happen, Hideki, we don’t have a choice anymore. This team has been devastated by injuries all season. We need to maximize every roster spot. If you were hitting, Hideki, with Luke out we’d love to give you starts. But that just isn’t the case anymore. I hope we see this struggle that you’ve been going through let up for just one second and you have a moment that reminds people of the player you were so consistently for such a long time. And at that point, we’re going to ask you to voluntarily retire. 

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