The Orioles Get Serious About Japan

Late yesterday, the Orioles announced their signing of Koji Uehara, the first Japanese player in the organization's history. That's really sort of remarkable, given the wide employment of Far East players in Major League Baseball these days, and, well, duh: The Orioles are way behind here. One of many areas in which that's the case.

But what matters is that they're here now. How they handle Uehara's transition will say something about how ready they are to step in to ah, ahem, more modern baseball world. According to Roch Kubatko, the transition could be plenty interesting:

As far as I know (and I haven't taken a poll), the Orioles don't have anyone working for them who is fluent in Japanese. That includes players, coaches, public relations, marketing and front office personnel. And it's hard to fake it. I have yet to hear anyone say, "Well, I can get by a little on my high school Japanese." I assume that he comes with his own interpreter. Or does Major League Baseball provide one? The Orioles are in the process of finding out these things. This is new territory for them.

Kubatko also mentions that he isn't sure whether Uehara knows enough English to "politely request that Aubrey Huff cover himself with a towel." How dare you, sir. Aubrey Huff will be shackled by no cloth! Little Aubrey wants to run free! Free as a bird in the Baltimore sky!

Anyway, good luck to the Orioles. It'll be an interesting organizational transition, but an absolutely necessary one. You don't compete in the AL East by limiting your scouting options, that's for sure.

The Orioles Get Serious About Japan originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Wed, 07 Jan 2009 17:43:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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