Broken wrist ends Matsui streak

New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui's consecutive-games streak ended Thursday at 518.

Hideki Matsui's consecutive-games streak ended at 518, even though he started in left field for the New York Yankees.

Matsui, 31, broke his left wrist trying to catch a shallow fly ball and was forced to leave in the top of the first inning of Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox before a crowd of 54,956 at Yankee Stadium.

The two-time all-star landed hard on the wrist as he lunged for a blooper off the bat of Mark Loretta, Boston's second hitter of the game.

"He is like the Rock of Gibraltar," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "You don't even think about anything that's going to keep him down."

Matsui was replaced by Bernie Williams before the half-inning was complete, ending the streak because Major League Baseball's rulebook states: "A consecutive game-playing streak shall be extended if the player plays one-half inning on defence or if he completes a time at bat by reaching base or being put out."

Matsui was transported by ambulance from the Bronx to Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, still wearing his uniform — and a sling.

He was examined by hand specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser and Yankees physician Dr. Stuart Hershon, who confirmed Matsui will undergo surgery on Friday.

Asked how long Matsui may be sidelined, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman replied: "I think it's going to be a long time, it could be the season. who knows?"

Matsui had played in every game since joining the Yankees, easily surpassing the major-league record of 424 consecutive games to start a career set by Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs from 1953-56.

"He plays hard," Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said of Matsui.

"He plays with reckless abandon and he's still able to go out there and play every single day. That was a given for Joe Torre [because] he knew he was going to start Matsui in the five- or six-hole.

"It's crushing. You don't wish this on any team and it's happened to us."

Matsui is a .297 hitter with 75 home runs, 349 runs batted in and 320 runs scored in 518 games since making his Yankees debut on March 31, 2003.

He played 1,250 consecutive games for the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Pacific League before signing with New York.

Lou Gehrig holds the Yankees record of 2,130 consecutive games played, which stood as the major-league record until broken 11 years ago by Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles.

Ripken Jr. played in 2,632 consecutive games.

with files from Associated Press