Japan commissioner says talent drain natural
The commissioner of Japanese baseball says there is little his office can do about the talent drain to the major leagues.
``There is no way to stop this,'' Ryozo Kato said at a news conference Wednesday. ``It's only natural for talented, young Japanese players to want to play in the major leagues. Look at the ballparks in the United States, they are much better than those in Japan.''
A total of 18 Japanese players played in Major League Baseball last season. Several more like Hisanori Takahashi and Ryota Igarashi of the New York Mets left Japan in the offseason.
Despite the exodus of players, Kato said he thinks interest in the sport is on the rise in Japan.
Kato also talked about the possibility of games between the champions of Japanese baseball and the winner of the World Series, an idea he said was first raised by his MLB counterpart Bud Selig.
``Commissioner Selig raised the issue when I was in Milwaukee,'' Kato said. ``I have no idea when it could happen. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome.''
Selig told Kato he was open to such games when the two met in January.
Kato also called for the greater internationalization of the sport.