Though there remains no definitive evidence that ghosts from the original Yankee Stadium have followed the team across the street to its new palace, a familiar soul most certainly will reappear Tuesday, possibly to haunt his former mates in their 2010 home opener.
And seeing Hideki Matsui dressed in the garb of a celestial being, a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim after his seven thoroughly professional seasons with the New York Yankees of the Bronx, will be a bit spooky.
"It's going to be strange,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "All we know is him in pinstripes. He's probably going to look kind of funny in red."
"I saw a picture of him in spring training," outfielder Brett Gardner said, "and saw him on TV the other day. It didn't seem quite right."
Matsui still will be wearing No. 55. He still will be twitching his right elbow while waiting in the batter's box, threatening the sort of offensive impact that earned him the MVP award in last year's World Series, when he hit an otherworldly .615 with three home runs and eight RBIs.
After his first seven games as an Angel, he is batting a robust .370, with two homers and five RBIs.
The large contingent of Japanese media still will follow his every move. Shingo Horie of Japan's NHK broadcast network estimated that easily 25 to 30 reporters and cameramen are chronicling his Angels exploits, as they did when he was a Yankee. Reporters from Japan, Horie said, generally spend three years on the Matsui beat, relocating to the United States from spring training through the World Series.
Matsui already has a $100, gold-plated key to New York City (as does his translator, Roger Kahlon, who followed him to California) that was presented to all the Yankees during last fall's World Series victory parade. Tuesday, he will share one last big moment with the Yankees, receiving his world championship ring. Girardi said he expects Yankees fans to be "extremely loud and thankful" in their greeting.
"To me," Girardi said, "it's going to be good to see him and give him his ring as well, because he deserved it. But that's the way this game is. You build relationships with players, coaches and managers, but things change. Not the way you feel about them, but things change."
And Matsui clearly has crossed over to the other side.
"I'm going to put my head down and focus on the mitt," Andy Pettitte said of facing Matsui for the first time today. "Try to make him feel uncomfortable. Try to get him out. He's obviously a great player, a thrill to play with. It'll be good to see him in the days after I pitch. Not [today], that's for sure."
The words used by the handful of Yankees, in describing the scene for the home opener, were "weird" and "strange." Pettitte noted how the old stadium next door is mostly vanished. "It's gone and it's not going back up," he said.
While Matsui, on the other hand, is back.