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Hideki Matsui in Anaheim: “Man, I feel comfortable here”

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Good story in today’s New York Times about Hideki Matsui’s transition to life with the Angels. There’s one rather shocking fact -- About 50 Japanese reporters are following the Angels this spring, compared with three daily beat writers from American news organizations -- and a whole lot of interesting happy-to-be-here stuff:

“He’s got a really good sense of humor,” Hunter said. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve been bringing him up in our meetings at 9:30 every morning. It’s like a comedy show. He gets us warmed up, laughing, cracking up, sweating, and we go out on the field happy. He fits right in. He told me, ‘Man, I feel comfortable here.’ ”

Also note the strikingly relaxed and realistic attitude he had when it came to leaving New York:

Matsui took less [than Johnny Damon] but signed earlier, accepting his standing in the market. “At least for me, personally, it doesn’t really bother me,” Matsui said. “You have to take into consideration what the current market is and also your worth as a player, how teams assess you. My market price four or five years ago was different because my age was different.”

Matsui’s agent is Arn Tellem. Tellem may not get the same volume of press (at least in baseball) as Scott Boras gets, but he’s negotiated an insane number of very player-friendly contracts in recent years. Despite this, he does not create the sort of acrimony Boras does and does not have a reputation for blowing smoke like Boras does about what his players are worth. According to people I know who know him, Tellem is a hell of a guy, actually, who is realistic about things and has a sensible temperament, which is not the sort of thing you hear said about sports agents all that often.

I’m sure Matsui’s stable offseason and easy transition to his new team has a lot to do with his own personality, but I don’t think I can ever recall a Boras clients talking in realistic terms about their age, their market and how teams might assess them as players.