Astros' Matsui to begin season on DL

Astros' Matsui to begin season on DL

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Although Kazuo Matsui's surgical procedure to repair an anal fissure on Monday was a success, the second baseman will need extra time to recover and consequently will begin the season on the disabled list.

Recovery time initially was estimated to be two weeks, but the Astros increased the timetable to two-to-three weeks, after which time Matsui will resume working out to prepare for the season.

"We won't put him on [the DL] right away, but from the report from the doctors, it's a foregone conclusion he'll start the year on the DL," general manager Ed Wade said.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Eric Haas at The Methodist Hospital. Matsui is scheduled to be discharged from the hospital on Wednesday.

In Matsui's absence, veteran utility infielders Mark Loretta and Geoff Blum will likely absorb most of the playing time at second.

Omitting Matsui from the Opening Day 25-man roster opens a spot for another player currently on the bubble, such as infielder David Newhan or catcher Humberto Quintero, who would have to pass through waivers before the Astros could send him to the Minor Leagues. Tomas Perez is also an option.

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Manager Cecil Cooper acknowledged on Monday that Matsui's DL stint could possibly open the door for the club to carry three catchers. Cooper also confirmed he's leaning toward carrying 12 pitchers.

"It's possible," he said of the three-catcher scenario. "But we're going to take the best 13 guys we can. We'll see where we are and the same thing goes from a pitching standpoint. We'll take the best 12 -- and if it happens that we don't have a lefty, or we do have one or we have two, whatever the case may be. The best guys throwing the best and being consistent with what we want them to do."

Matsui's situation also creates a hole at the top of the order. Matsui was slated to hit second, behind Michael Bourn, but Cooper may have to shuffle the lineup depending on who plays second base.

When Loretta plays, he'll likely hit second, but when Blum plays, he'll hit in the lower half of the order. Hunter Pence could also slot into the two-hole.

"When [Loretta's] playing, I think he's an exceptional two-hole hitter," Cooper said. "He takes pitches, he's not afraid to hit with two strikes, he knows how to handle the bat. He's a good hit and run man, he'll put the bat on the ball. He'll work pitchers. He's a good ideal No. 2 hitter. ... When he's playing, it's possible he'll hit second."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.