Sanspo: Bobby Valentine in his last year with the Chiba Lotte Marines. Contract negotiations between the Marines and Valentine broke down and it now appears that the 2009 season will be Valentine's last as manager of the Marines. It was rumored that Valentine wanted a guaranteed multi-year deal.
Sanspo: The Lotte Marines are still working on finding other foreigners to fill out their roster. The Marines only have two foreigners on their roster (Benny and Brian Sikorski) and it expected that they will be signing on a few more within the next few days. Valentine, who attended the MLB Winter Meetings this off-season, has pared down his list to about 10 names.
Sanspo: Hanshin Tigers Akinobu Mayumi appeared on a TV show the other day and afterwords exchanged a few words with reporters. Here's a snippet regarding Kyuji Fujikawa:
So you've spoken to Fujikawa?
I just listened to what he had to say. And the club president had asked me to talk to him. We spoke for about an hour and a half on after Fan Appreciation Day.
What did you talk about?
I think he had this sense he's done everything he could do. He's been a set-up man and closer over the last 5 years. And he's put up some really great numbers. He's done all that, and yet he missed out on the Championships this season. His goal was to win the Championships and he did the best he could. I think that's what was bothering him.
Was there any talk of the Majors or becoming a starter?
Yeah, but the Tigers would never let it happen.
So you basically talked about him losing some motivation?
Yeah. I really want to talk about things with him on the field. But I think our talk helped him iron some things out. I think he has a better sense of what he's going to do now.
Have you ever experienced something like that?
I've never really been forced into thinking so deeply about those kinds of issues. But there were years where it was much harder to get things going because I didn't feel motivated.
Did you talk about the WBC?
Yeah, he said that he feels like he hasn't given it his best on the international stage yet and that that's what he wanted to do this time around. He also has permission to practice with an MLB ball, so that should help. It's much harder to go from a Japanese ball to an international regulation ball, than it is to go from an international regulation ball to a Japanese ball. And I don't mind that he's on a different workout. If we did things together, it would delay the schedule. Personal training staff? I think he's got some people together.
What kind of advice did you offer him?
I told him that the Tigers would be in trouble if they let him go to the America, but at the same time, the team would be in trouble if he doesn't find the motivation to play. I think it's a really important time in his development right now.