A's join Matsui, Suzuki in concern for Japan

A's join Matsui, Suzuki in concern for Japan

A's join Matsui, Suzuki in concern for Japan
PHOENIX -- News of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that rocked northeast Japan traveled quickly through the A's clubhouse Friday morning at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Players huddled together at tables watching video of the quake on CNN and many read aloud news updates gathered from their mobile devices.

It made for a somber morning, especially considering new addition Hideki Matsui hails from Japan and catcher Kurt Suzuki has relatives in the country.

But luckily for Matsui and Suzuki, they said their relatives were safe, as none of them live in the areas most affected by the earthquake.

"I haven't spoken to anybody yet in my family but they're not really close to the area," Matsui said through his translator, Roger Kahlon. "So I think they're OK."

Matsui, who is from Ishikawa prefecture located in southwest Japan, said he's had a difficult time watching the news coverage because Japan is so close to his heart. He said he heard the news late last night while using the Internet and had trouble sleeping.

"It is a bit disturbing to see this and I'm worried about the people in the area who have been affected by the earthquake," Matsui said. "It's a bit difficult to watch, especially because you're away. It's tough seeing all that's going on knowing you have family and people you know in the area."

Suzuki, meanwhile, said he spoke to his parents -- who live in Hawaii -- upon hearing the news, but that they're fine and so are his family members in Japan.

"They're in central Japan so they should be fine," Suzuki said. "I just talked to my mom this morning and she said they'll be OK."

A's manager Bob Geren went out of his way to make sure the large contingent of Japanese reporters who cover Matsui had a chance to reach out to their family and friends in Japan. But many of the media members explained it was difficult to reach out to loved ones because phone service has been affected throughout most of Japan.

Geren expressed sympathy to the Japanese reporters and made sure to remind everyone that baseball is just a game, especially compared to a tragedy like the one in Japan.

"Our news here is nothing compared to that," Geren said. "This is just baseball."

The A's announced that the team will help raise funds to aid victims of the disaster. The club is scheduled to open the regular season with a three-game series at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum against the Mariners and plans are being made to add a fund-raising component for Japanese Heritage Day, scheduled for the series' finale on April 3.

Details of the benefit game, which will feature Matsui and Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, will be announced at a later date. The A's also said they will be working closely with Hiroshi Inomata, San Francisco's Japanese consul-general, and other community leaders in their efforts to support victims.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.