Samurai Japan held a press conference today to introduce Hiroki Kukubo as their first long-term standing manager. His first job will be to guide Samurai Japan in three international games against Taiwan in November.
Sponichi has posted portions of the press conference:
Why did you accept the position?
When I first received the proposal, I was not sure if I should accept. But there is meaning to taking on challenges so I accepted.
How will you lead the team?
I want to run things from the perspective of the players. I want people to see that the team is young and full of energy. It will be a team that unifies Japanese baseball and I will be at the top as manager. I will be aware of what I need to do.
What is Japan's strength?
Pitching and defense. And small ball. We have to work on our ability to score that one run, otherwise we will have a hard time against countries that have power and speed.
Which players would you like to see on the team?
In the medium-term, a player that can be a part of the WBC team. But I cannot really name names.
What kind of coaching staff will you select?
I am thinking young. I do not have managing experience myself. I do not think I will have to select people that have a lot of experience on the international stage.
Source: Sponichi 10/9/2013
Nikkan Sports posted this quote, which appears to be a mix of the above:
When they first came to me with this proposal, I was not sure if a person like me, with no managerial experience, should accept the position. But, life is about taking on challenges. It is not about whether or not you can do something, but rather doing or not doing. I gathered up my courage and accepted.
Source: Nikkan Sports 10/9/2013
On a side note, Kokubo will be assigned the number ninety. The number comes from the nine he wore when he was an active player and is also the number that comes after the eighty-nine Sadaharu Oh wore when he managed the Hawks.
Source: Daily Sports 10/9/2013
UPDATE 10/10 @ 7:48pm -
Sponichi posted additional portions of the press conference this morning. Below are sections not previous included:
What did you do when you first received the proposal?
I never considered it, so I could not get a real feel for it.
Did you ask anyone for advice?
I spoke to Softbank's [Sadaharu] Oh and he told me that these things were all about chance and timing.
What kind of team do you want to put together?
I may have retired as a veteran player, but I am new to managing. I want to look at things from a player's perspective and show others our energy.
How will you approach the games in Taiwan?
Winning is important, but selecting players while looking four years down the road is something I also want to do.
Source: Sponichi 10/10/2013
UPDATE 10/11 @ 1:15am -
Sanspo has posted a different version that might help explain some of the things he said above.
On the proposal.
Honestly, I was not sure what to do, but life takes on meaning with challenges. I do not have a set type of style, but I want to create a strong team with the understand that I am the top manager in Japan.
On being forty-two.
I am not to far away from active players so I want to show that I still have energy. I would like to communicate with players from their perspective.
On player selections.
I cannot name any names. I want to select players that can move, players that are healthy.
On amateur players making it onto the roster.
If their skills are up there, then there is a chance. It is possible that players that are planning to turn pro within the next year or so make it to the team.
Source: Sanspo 10/10/2013