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Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke gets wrapped up in the Hideki Matsui experience

February 23, 2010 |  1:31 pm

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Bench coach Ron Roenicke got a taste of what it's going to be like to have Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui on the Angels this season.

Angels After Tuesday's first full-squad workout in Tempe Diablo Stadium, Roenicke, who coaches outfielders, was told by Angels communications manager Eric Kay that a Japanese reporter wanted to speak to him.

A few minutes later, Roenicke was swarmed by a mass of 30 to 40 reporters, photographers and cameramen along the third-base line, and what he thought would be a simple interview turned into a media event.

"E.K. said one guy wanted to talk to me, and all of a sudden there was a whole group there," Roenicke said. "I guess that's how it's going to be."

Has Roenicke ever addressed a larger assemblage?

"No," he said, later adding, "I think this will happen a lot. Monday, after the workout, I walked around the corner [and into the parking lot] and there were 30, 40 guys following him and I thought, 'Whoa! He's just leaving the parking lot, driving away.' So, it's going to be an interesting year, I think."

Matsui, a 35-year-old outfielder who will be the team's designated hitter, took batting practice and participated in some light fielding drills Tuesday, and everywhere he went, the Japanese media followed.

And what did Roenicke have to tell all those inquiring minds afterward?

"I said we were just breaking him in slowly," Roenicke said, alluding to Matsui's arthritic knees, which prevented him from playing the outfield for the New York Yankees last season. "One guy asked if we held him back. I said no, he can do everything. ... But I've had bad knees, and there are going to be certain drills I know are tough on your knees, so we'll try to keep him off his feet as much as we can."

-- Mike DiGiovanna

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