Matsui has proven that he can still produce

Matsui has proven that he can still produce

ARLINGTON -- Any doubts about Hideki Matsui's ability to continue as a productive big league player have been erased, at least in the mind of his manager, Mike Scioscia.

Even if he doesn't return to the Angels, who might return to a designated-hitter-by-committee in 2011, Scioscia is convinced Matsui can help a club with his bat and leadership.

Batting fifth as the DH in Sunday's season finale, Matsui took a .271 batting average into the game with 20 homers and 82 RBIs. He is slugging .451 with a .359 on-base percentage.

After not playing at all in the outfield in 2009, his final season with the Yankees, Matsui started 17 games in left and handled the job capably, showing a strong, accurate arm.

"There's no doubt about Hideki being able to produce at the Major League level," Scioscia said. "He still has the bat speed. I'm impressed -- we're all impressed -- with how his legs have rebounded. He's running very well. In the first month of the season, he was terrific. As his legs have rebounded, you've seen how his production has stepped up.

"He's got plenty of baseball left in him as a guy who's maybe not going to be as dynamic as he was four, five years ago, but still can be an important contributor to a lineup that you need in the American League."

From a character standpoint, Matsui was every bit as good as advertised.

"He's incredible," Scioscia said. "Not only is he professional, he's got a good sense of humor. He's shown some very strong leadership. When you get a guy like Derek Jeter saying the guy is the most professional and best teammate he's been around, that says it all. The guy is terrific."