PHOENIX -- On a stormy Saturday afternoon, there was visual evidence of why the A's believe they will be a contender this season.
Designated hitter Hideki Matsui appeared for the first time in a full Oakland uniform.
It was merely show business, as Matsui was shooting a commercial for Komatsu, a Japanese construction company, at Papago Park Baseball Complex.
But there's nothing phony about the A's expectations regarding Matsui this season.
As center fielder Coco Crisp put it, "He's proven he's a thumper."
Starting Monday, when Matsui joins in the A's first full-squad workout, he will begin work on trying to help resuscitate Oakland's floundering offense of recent years.
Matsui's father, Masao, who attended Saturday's shoot, was asked what he predicted from his son in 2011.
Thirty homers and a .300 batting average, he cheerfully responded.
How close Matsui, 36, gets to those numbers will go a long way toward determining whether the A's end a four-season playoff drought.
He's game to give it a go.
"I'm really excited to wear the uniform of the team I've always dreamed of," Matsui said through interpreter Hiro Murakami.
Masao Matsui shared how the A's were the first baseball team his son rooted for while growing up in Japan.
That's when the A's of the Bash Brothers era were dominating the American League, and more of their games were televised in Japan than were those of most other major
Hideki Matsui was asked how he felt wearing an A's uniform.
"I like it very much," he said, adding with a smile: "I'd like to ask around what other people think."
Though the A's also added outfielders Josh Willingham and David DeJesus to bolster their offense, Matsui's track record suggests he's most equipped to provide the power bat that's been missing from Oakland's lineup over the past four years.
He hit .274 with 21 homers and 84 RBIs for the Los Angeles Angels last season. The latter two categories would have led the A's by a wide margin.
As recently as 2009, in his last of seven seasons with the New York Yankees, he had 28 homers with 90 RBIs.
Can he anchor the A's lineup at this stage in his career? And can he do it playing half of his games at the Oakland Coliseum, hardly a hitter's best friend?
Matsui's .294 mark at the Coliseum is his fifth-highest career average of any ballpark in which he's logged at least 100 at-bats. But he's hit just four homers in 119 at-bats.
A big factor will be whether Matsui's knees, which have given him problems in past years, remain sound.
The A's plan to use him as their full-time DH, though Matsui was an outfielder earlier in his career. He was asked if he plans to use his glove during spring training.
"I hope so," he said.
Matsui's arrival was met with great anticipation. A large number of Japanese media gradually trickled into Phoenix Municipal Stadium this week, a sign of the large international contingent that will cover Matsui all season.
Many Japanese reporters waited hours for his plane to arrive at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport on Friday night.
The crowded press corps is a far cry from the sparse media gathering that typically covers the A's on a daily basis.
When A's manager Bob Geren went to grab a jacket in Phoenix Municipal Stadium's clubhouse Saturday, he saw a surprising sight.
"In the parking lot, 15 to 20 people were hoping to get a first glance of him driving up," Geren said. "That's a different feel."