D-backs execs to make goodwill trip to Japan

BY foxsports • July 26, 2012

The Diamondbacks announced Thursday that a contingent of executives -- headed by team president and CEO Derrick Hall, general manager Kevin Towers and special assistant Luis Gonzalez -- will make a one-week goodwill trip to Japan from July 31-Aug. 7. The trip will include meetings with the Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner’s Office, MLB Japan, several teams' front offices and public appearances at the Major League Baseball Road Show in the tsunami-affected town of Ishinomaki.

"The D-backs have always had a presence in Japan, and we consider our franchise to be a truly global brand," said Hall. "This is a tremendous opportunity to expand the club’s reach, renew our friendships and have a lasting impact in the community abroad.”"

The D-backs' contingent will depart from Los Angeles following the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline and are scheduled to meet with Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Ryozo Kato as well as front-office executives from the Yomiuri Giants, Hanshin Tigers, Yokohama Bay Stars and Chiba Lotte Marines.

Prior to the Major League Baseball Road Show, the D-backs will tour Sendai, the hometown of D-backs pitcher Takashi Saito that was greatly damaged by the tsunami and earthquake of 2011. The contingent will then take part in the FanFest-type Road Show event at Ishinomaki Baseball Field on Aug. 4. Gonzalez will host a clinic and sign autographs at the event while Towers and Hall will also serve as featured speakers.

Saito, the first player of Japanese descent to play for the D-backs, made his first appearance with the team on July 21 after signing last winter.

The D-backs' history in Japan dates to before the franchise played its first game. General manager Joe Garagiola Jr., joined manager Buck Showalter and senior advisor of Pacific Rim operations Jim Marshall on a goodwill trip to Japan in 1997 that included watching games in which Ichiro Suzuki played. Garagiola Jr. made numerous trips to Japan during his tenure as GM, and in 2004, the team formalized a working relationship with the Nippon Ham Fighters that included several additional visits by D-backs personnel to Japan and vice versa. Members of the Nippon front office shadowed members of the D-backs’ front office, and the Fighters held a D-backs Day that included Garagiola throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

In 2004, the club began hosting young players from Japan in Phoenix and sending young Valley residents for baseball trips to Japan, with one of those young players (Jake Williams, son of D-backs third-base coach Matt Williams) going on to play in the D-backs’ farm system.

The club's director of Pacific Rim operations, Hayashi, also will take part in the trip. Marshall, who played for three seasons with the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese Central League and managed for parts of four seasons in the big leagues before joining the D-backs as senior advisor of Pacific Rim operations in 1996, remains in that role to this day.

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