Former Tiger Imports: Matt Hague

36hague2016Name: Matthew Donald Hague
Name (Japanese): マット・ヘイグ
Date of Birth: August 20, 1985
Position: Third Base
Height: 191 cm (6’3″)
Weight: 102 kg (225 lb)
Throws/Bats: Right/Right
Wore #: 36
Originally signed by: Pittsburgh Pirates, 2008 (Round 9)
Joined the Tigers on: November 30, 2015
Released by the Tigers on: November 17, 2016
Walk-up Song: Drake – Big Team
Cheer Song: 

Romaji Japanese English
Tsuyoku Takaku Bo-ru Tobase 強く高くボール飛ばせ Launch the ball strong and high
Rettsu go- Heigu レッツゴーヘイグ Let’s Go, Hague!
Sa- yuku zo sho-ri e susume susume susume さぁ行くぞ勝利へ 進め進め進め OK let’s go towards victory, advance advance advance
Heigu! Heigu! ヘイグ!ヘイグ! Hague! Hague!

* The song uses “Taiga-su” (Tigers) since the song is meant to be a generic song for any foreign hitter… but in this case, Hague’s name goes in that space.

Social Media: Twitter
Career Stats:
Year Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
2016 Tigers 31 104 13 24 6 0 2 11 16 21 1 0 .231 .339 .346 .685
NPB Career 31 104 13 24 6 0 2 11 16 21 1 0 .231 .339 .346 .685

Biography:

Matt Hague was signed by Hanshin in late November 2015. His start with the team was a bad omen of things to come, as he almost immediately tweeted a photo of himself and his newlywed wife at the table signing his contract. The team wanted to be the first to make the news official, however, Twitter won the race. After spending part of the offseason on a honeymoon in Europe, the 2015 Triple-A International League MVP arrived in Japan at the end of January, checking in to camp with the team on February 1.

The exhibition season was not particularly good for Hague, and fears arose that he may not pan out as a hitter. However, those fears were dissipated during the opening series of the regular season. He recorded the team’s first RBI of the 2016 season with a single to left center in a 5-2 loss. Then in games 2 and 3, he collected RBIs and found himself on the hero’s podium in back-to-back wins for the team. The first time, he was asked to say something Japanese and he mispronounced the word “gambatte” (with an o instead of a). His second time up featured another mispronunciation, this time of the word “kampai” (again, the o sound). The very next series, Hague would hit his first career home run against the Yakult Swallows.

Unfortunately, the season took a turn for the worse after that. A few weeks later, Hague missed a game due to high fever, and after coming back too soon, fell into a slump that lasted until April 18. It was then that the team made the decision to send him down to the second squad, calling up fellow import Rafael Dolis to bolster the struggling bullpen. Hague hit .423 in his month with farm manager Masayuki Kakefu. He got called up just a week before interleague started, and bashed his second home run of the year against the Yomiuri Giants in the next-to-last game before the Pacific League games began.

Unfortunately, he once again did not last long. After a game at DH and a shaky one at third, Hague was given a day off. Then in a game against the Seibu Lions, Hague hit into two double plays, including one that snuffed out a potential (much-needed) rally. He would get sent down to the farm again in early June, never to make his way back up to the top squad. At the end of July, he injured his right shoulder and did not play in any more games. He left Japan before the season ended in order to have his shoulder looked at by American doctors. The team officially announced his release in the middle of November.


Related Articles:

“Special Fan Club” Gift, Part 2 (September 12, 2016)

Episode 36 – An Interview with #36 Matt Hague (June 27, 2016)

The Craziness of Demotions (June 7, 2016)

Hague, Kakefu Ready for #36’s Promotion (May 16, 2016)

Hague Meets the Press (January 28, 2016)

Kawasaki: Hague Speaks Japanese! (January 21, 2016)

Will Hague Become Murton II? (December 6, 2015)

Tigers Reach Agreement with 3A MVP Hague (December 1, 2015)

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.