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Hideki Matsui retires

Hideki Matsui of the Tampa Bay Rays during

Hideki Matsui of the Tampa Bay Rays during the second inning of a game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. (June 5, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Even Godzilla has to say goodbye.

Hideki Matsui, the hard-working Japanese slugger who made a nearly seamless transition to the Major Leagues, retired on Thursday after a decade in MLB.

Matsui, 38, hit .282 with a .360 on-base percentage and 175 home runs while playing for the Yankees, Angels, Athletics and Rays. He spent the first seven seasons of his career in New York before signing a series of one-year deals. Matsui batted .615 in the 2009 World Series, leading the Yankees to their first World Series title since 2000. He had three hits and six RBIs in the clinching Game 6, a performance that helped him earn Series MVP honors. Overall he hit .312 with 10 home runs and 39 RBIs in 56 postseason games, all for the Yankees.

“He was dedicated to his craft, embraced his responsibilities to his team and fans and elevated his play when he was needed the most,” Yankees Managing Partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “He did all these things with a humility that was distinctly his own, which is why he was such a big part of our success and why he will always be a cherished member of the Yankees family.”

Matsui batted .292 and hit 140 home runs overall with the Yankees. He was a two-time All-Star (2003, 2004) and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2003.

“I've had a lot of teammates over the years with the Yankees, but I will always consider Hideki one of my favorites,” Derek Jeter said in a statement. “The way he went about his business day in and day out was impressive.”

Matsui put up representable numbers in 2010, his first season outside of New York, hitting .274 with 21 home runs for the Angels. But he slumped to a .251 average with the Athletics in 2011 and then hit .147 with the Rays in 2012, slamming just two home runs in 103 at-bats.

Before coming to the U.S., Matsui starred in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants from 1993-2002. Because of his fame in his home country, Matsui was followed by a large contingent of Japanese writers, making him an even more visible member of the Yankees' star-studded teams of the 2000s.

Tags: Hideki Matsui

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