The Arizona Diamondbacks announced that a contingent of executives, headed by President & CEO Derrick Hall, General Manager Kevin Towers and Special Assistant to the President/CEO 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, as well as the MLB Café in Tokyo.
"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 MLB Trade Deadline on July 31 and are scheduled to meet with NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato, as well as front office executives from the Yomiuri Giants, Hanshin Tigers, Yokohama Bay Stars and Chiba Lotte Marines.
Scheduled media availability for Hall, Towers, Gonzalez and Director of Pacific Rim Operations Mack Hayashi is as follows:
Thursday, Aug. 2 - Approximate arrival time 4:30 p.m. - On field at Koshien Stadium
Saturday, Aug. 4 - Approximate arrival time 1:30 p.m. - At MLB Road Show (Ishinomaki Baseball Field)
Sunday, Aug. 5 - Approximate arrival time 12:00 p.m. - MLB Café in Tokyo
Sunday, Aug. 5 - Approximate arrival time 3:00 p.m. - On field at Yokohama Stadium
Tuesday, Aug. 7 - Approximate arrival time 3:30 p.m. - On field at QVC Stadium
Additional interview opportunities are available throughout the trip by emailing D-backs' Senior Vice President, Communications, Josh Rawitch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prior to the Major League Baseball Road Show, the D-backs will tour Sendai, the hometown of current D-backs pitcher Takashi Saito, which 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. At the event, Gonzalez will host a clinic and sign autographs while Towers and Hall will also serve as featured speakers.
This winter, the D-backs signed Saito, the first player of Japanese descent to wear a D-backs uniform. Saito recently made his first appearance for Arizona on July 21 vs. the Astros.
The D-backs' history in Japan dates to before the franchise played its first game, when the franchise's General Manager, Joe Garagiola Jr., joined Manager Buck Showalter and Senior Advisor, Pacific Rim Operations Jim Marshall on a goodwill trip to Japan in 1997 that included watching the 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, which 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 in which Garagiola threw 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 going on to play in the D-backs' farm system (Jake Williams, son of D-backs third base coach Matt Williams).
The club employs a Director of Pacific Rim Operations, Hayashi, who 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 a Senior Advisor, Pacific Rim Operations in 1996, remains in that role to this day.
In addition to the baseball-related activities and games, the D-backs' executives will get the opportunity to visit historic Kyoto and several key sights in Tokyo, including the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.