An interesting little tidbit about the WBC and Kazuo Matsui. A blog entry from a Japanese sports writer on Sankei News says that this will be the second time Kaz Matsui has been dissed, perhaps unintentionally, by Tatsunori Hara.
The story goes like this: during the 2003 off-season when Kaz decided to become a Free Agent, there were rumors the Giants and Hara would be interested in signing him. It was this interest that apparently led Kaz to declare his FA eligibility to see what kind of offer he might get from the Giants. Except Hara suddenly stepped down as manager and was replaced by Tsuneo Horiuchi. Horiuchi had other ideas and Kaz was never extended the offer.
The story ends with Kaz going to the Majors because he really had no other choice. Of course, all that's just speculation, rumor, and hearsay.
Now fast-forward to the preliminary picks for the 2009 WBC. Since Kaz was on the DL for more than 45 days in 2008, he had to gain permission from his ball club to participate. He got that permission and was hoping that maybe this time, he'd have a chance to play under Hara. But instead, we hear this soundbite from Hara:
"We picked players we felt were 100% healthy."
And apparently that meant Kaz wasn't under consideration. So once again, Kaz is left out in the cold.
I never heard about this back story until recently and now that I have, I wonder just how different Kaz's career could have been had he stayed in Japan and signed on with the Giants. But I guess it just was never meant to be.