Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notes: Matsui deal likely this week
ST. PETERSBURG - The Tampa Bay Rays are expected to sign free-agent DH/OF Hideki Matsui this week to a minor-league deal, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network. Matsui, 37, who has not played since last season, likely will report to expended spring in Port Charlotte before joining the Triple-A Durham Bulls. A left-handed hitter who has hit .285 with 173 home runs in his nine-year career — the first seven with the Yankees — Matsui could add depth to the Rays' bench, giving them a power bat for late-inning pinch-hitting duties. He also could work his way into the DH spot, though the Rays already have a lefty DH in Luke Scott. Matsui spent last season in Oakland, where he also played 27 games in left field. In 141 games with the A's, he batted .251 with 12 home runs, 72 RBIs and a .321 on-base percentage.Tough bats for Price 1B Albert Pujols comes into Tropicana Field homerless in his first 65 at-bats this season, and LHP David Price (2-1, 4.20 ERA) will be the first of Rays pitchers to face the $24 million a year man. "If he comes in with a goose egg I want him to leave with one," said Price, who makes his fourth start of the season tonight during the opener of the three-game set. Price, who won his last start at Toronto last Wednesday, is averaging an American League-high 19.7 pitches per inning and a major league-high 4.29 pitches per batter faced. His 16.2 base runners allowed per nine innings is the third-highest mark in the AL. The Angels have the fourth-highest team batting average (.260) in the American League, meaning Price will have faced three of the top four hitting teams (Yankees second with a .285 average and the Red Sox third at .276) in his first four starts with the AL's top-hitting team, the Rangers (.303), waiting for him Sunday night in Arlington, Texas. "That's what it's about," Price said. "If you can get through this and put some good outings together it's good for your confidence and you get stuff going." Noteworthy The Rays have loaded the bases at least once in each of their past five games and six of the past seven. They are 4 for 8 with a walk, scoring at least one run in eight of 11 at-bats with the bases full. … The Rays are 7-0 when leading after seven innings.