The New York Yankees, who just won Major League Baseball’s World Series a few months ago, unveiled the trophy in Tokyo as part of its world tour recently. A few players accompanied General Manager Brian Cashman on the visit, although Hideki Matsui was not part of the trip. Matsui, originally a huge baseball star in his native Japan, was on the Yankees team that won the Series, but has since left, signing a contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He was not part of the celebratory visit.

As this article from Rueters details,

The player nicknamed “Godzilla” hit .274 with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs as the Yankees’ designated hitter last season, while amassing 140 home runs in a career limited by injuries.

Cashman said the former Yomiuri Giants star was prized by the Yankees not for his nationality, but for his skills as a player.

“We did not sign Hideki Matsui because he was Japanese, we signed him because he was a true champion and one of the world’s more gifted baseball players,” he said.

Team president Randy Levine also praised Matsui, adding he hoped the Yankees did not lose Japanese fans with his departure.

Despite Matsui’s absence, Japan still has a strong relationship with Major League Baseball and the Yankees, and will inevitably continue to do so for the 2010 season and beyond.

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