There never is a shortage of media members around the 27-time World Champions, but the journalism gridlock around the Yankees has eased considerably this spring and will remain that way for the rest of the season.

That's because for the first time in since 2002, Hideki Matsui isn't on the team, and that means the huge Japanese media contingent that follows him around has moved on to the Angels.

Jason Zillo, the Yankees' media relations director, estimated 30 to 40 Japanese who were in camp in 2009 now are gone, and that the total media contingent covering the team in Florida is down by about a third.

So is he relieved to be free from the crush? On the contrary.

"I'm sure a lot of people would think in some respect that's good for the p.r. department, but to be honest, I miss them," he said.

"They were so professional, and being here for as long as some of them were, you develop relationships that are much more than your normal work relationships."

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Zillo said the Japanese "brought a different flavor, but above all else they were just super people to be around. There's a noticeable absence."

When Matsui arrived in 2003, the additional media was expected to be a burden for all concerned, but soon everyone adjusted.

"I think all sides involved got along well, better than anyone could have expected," Zillo said.

Matsui set the tone with his calmness and professionalism in dealing with journalists from both sides of the Pacific.

Zillo said he already misses one spring training tradition: The Italian-American p.r. man and his staff joining the Japanese media at an Irish bar in Tampa.