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Matsui nearing return to new club

Matsui nearing return to new club

PHILADELPHIA -- Some help appears to be on the way for the Astros.

Kazuo Matsui may rejoin the club on Friday when the Astros begin a three-game series against the Rockies at Minute Maid Park. Matsui was 1-for-3 with a double in five innings during a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday in Oklahoma City. Matsui is scheduled to play seven innings on Wednesday and nine innings on Thursday.

"We'll see him in Houston on Friday," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "If everything is a go on Friday, he'll play. He could also be a go on Saturday. It's about time for him to tee it up."

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Matsui, who signed a three-year, $16.5 million free-agent contract in the offseason, has been sidelined since March 21 while recovering from a medical procedure to repair an anal fissure.

Matsui hit .288 and had 24 doubles and 84 runs in 104 games for the Rockies last season. He hit a stellar .417 with one homer and six RBIs for the Rockies in the National League Division Series sweep of the Phillies. Matsui's grand slam off Kyle Lohse in the fourth inning of Game 2 helped seal that victory and ultimately the series.

Cooper is hoping to receive that type of offensive punch when Matsui is activated. Most importantly, Matsui must be healthy.

"I heard he moved around real good defensively and had just a smidgen of soreness," Cooper said. "It sounds like he's made progress and is close to getting ready. Our target is Friday."

Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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