There is a very interesting (and lengthy) article in Boston Globe about what the Red Sox are doing to prepare Daisuke, the media, and anyone else associated with the club for this season.
No obstacle is too big. The Sox have literally knocked down ballpark walls to accommodate the large contingent of Japanese media that will be following him. “We’re expecting over 100 Japanese members in spring training, and 50 a game on a regular basis during the season,” said media relations director John Blake, who has arranged for two additional trailers to handle the media crush in spring training, which opens Friday at the team’s minor league facility in Fort Myers, Fla.
New staff? The Sox have provided Matsuzaka with a Japanese-speaking trainer, a Japanese-speaking media liaison (a longtime friend of his wife, Tomoyo), a personal interpreter, and a personal masseuse. An English instructor has been hired to come to spring training and also will be with him during the season.
“We’ve talked extensively to executives from other clubs who have had Japanese players on their teams, in order to learn what has and has not worked in transitioning the players,” said Brian O’Halloran, assistant to general manager Theo Epstein.
Extra effort? New pitching coach John Farrell has been studying Japanese with a tutor. “A humbling experience,” he says. Catcher Jason Varitek has already received DVD copies of Matsuzaka’s starts in Japan so he can become acquainted with his new batterymate. Traveling secretary Jack McCormick helped line up housing (apartments for Matsuzaka and his staff in spring training, and a leased house — in the Brookline/Chestnut Hill area, his agent, Scott Boras, hinted — during the season). Equipment manager Joe Cochran soon will be contacting Japanese restaurants in the Boston area about catering meals to the clubhouse.
Marketing opportunities? Expect to see Japanese advertisers buying signage behind the plate and on the bullpen walls, and a sponsor’s logo all over the backdrop when Matsuzaka does postgame interviews. “Good thing he wasn’t a left fielder,” said Sox marketing VP Sam Kennedy. “There might have been Japanese characters on the Green Monster.”
Throughout the article is clear the Sox are doing everything possible to protect thier $103 million investment, as well as everyone possible to capitalize on this opportunity.
Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino acknowledges that there is a chance the team could open the 2008 season in Japan, giving Japanese fans a chance to see native son Daisuke Matsuzaka perform in a major league game. Certainly, he said, the club is willing to do so.
“We have made clear our willingness to play international games, international openers,” Lucchino said. “The international committee of Major League Baseball is aware of our willingness. Whether it’s 2008 or 2009, should they be looking for clubs to play in Tokyo or other international games, the Red Sox are eager to be considered.”
Lucchino is a member of the international committee, along with other owners or CEOs such as Sandy Alderson of the Padres, Fred Wilpon of the Mets, Jeffrey Loria of the Marlins, Charlie Monfort of the Rockies, Kevin McClatchy of the Pirates, and Paul Godfrey of Toronto. The committee is chaired by Paul Archey, Major League Baseball’s vice president of international affairs. All, Lucchino said, have a keen interest in baseball’s international development, an interest shared by commissioner Bud Selig.
If this helps the team I root for, or the game in general I am all for it.
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