GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The A's signed Hideki Matsui to stir life into their dormant offense.
But with the April 1 opener fast approaching, their marquee offseason addition has struggled to say the least.
Matsui is hitting .143 in 15 Cactus League games with one home run and two RBIs, and the homer accounts for his only extra-base hit in 42 at-bats.
Is this simply the sign of a veteran slow to round into form or a cause for concern?
Nobody in an Oakland uniform -- manager Bob Geren, hitting coach Gerald Perry or Matsui himself -- is sounding alarms.
But Matsui, 36, was signed to a one-year, $4.25 million deal in December to provide power in the middle of the lineup. Though Matsui isn't the only player who has struggled in Cactus League games, the A's offensive fortunes are tied greatly to their new designated hitter.
"The second half of the spring, he's hit the ball pretty hard," Geren said. "He's got 42 at-bats, and his last 20 or so have been real good."
After a 1-for-21 start, Matsui has taken a slight turn for the better, going 5 for 21 with four walks over his past seven games.
One major league scout who has followed the A's this spring said he doesn't put much stock in Matsui's exhibition numbers.
"You're not going to see the real guy until the regular season," said the scout, who requested anonymity.
Matsui has had company, as two other newly acquired hitters have struggled.
David DeJesus, the A's No. 3 hitter, is batting .216 and has just one RBI in 13 games. Cleanup man Josh Willingham is batting .194 with 13 strikeouts over his previous 13 games, though he had two hits and an RBI in Tuesday's 10-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
But Matsui -- a .290 hitter who has averaged 20 homers and 85 RBIs over eight seasons -- has the potential to make the biggest impact.
"There's no panic or anything like that," Perry said. "The approach and the whole nine yards, I think it's like night and day from earlier. He's seeing a lot of pitches, and that's something you want to do in spring training. So I'm pleased actually."
Matsui didn't play Tuesday because of a stiff neck, but Geren hoped to have him back Wednesday.
Matsui said he judges his springs less on numbers and more on how well they prepare him for the season.
"Obviously the batting average is not very good," he said. "But as far as readiness for the season, I feel pretty good. I think it's how my swing feels, how that's coming along, and then my timing."
But he generally has performed better during spring training.
Last year with the Los Angeles Angels, Matsui hit .261 with one homer and nine RBIs in exhibitions. He went on to hit .274 with 21 homers and 84 RBIs during the season.
With the New York Yankees in 2009, Matsui hit just .229 in the spring but had four homers and 14 RBIs. That led to a season in which he hit .274 with 28 homers and 90 RBIs.
Time will tell whether his current struggles have any bearing on the season.
Perry said Matsui, with a combined 18 professional seasons split between the major leagues and Japan, knows what it takes to get himself in gear.
"You try to give him his space and let him work the way he's been working to get ready for the season, because he knows what he needs to do."