Apparently, トレードデッドライン means trade deadline in Japanese (look at me, I’m learning). Just don’t ask me to write it down or pronounce it.
In the midst of working on my lingual skills and trying to learn as much as I can about the wonderful and beautiful country that Japan appears to be, baseball’s trade deadline – Thursday – is fast approaching.
The first of possibly a number of moves has been made by the Toronto Blue Jays, involving two of the organization’s players at Triple-A Buffalo, where I happen to be right now. So that’s good and bad for me. It means that I actually have access to the players involved and can speak with them and write about them with firsthand knowledge, but it also means that I should indeed use that access to write about them, adding to the already excessive workload that I’ve created for myself with all of the wonderful Canadian baseball players out there doing their thing.
Before I get back to some more information that I’ve actually learned about Japan – I swear that’s what this blog is for – I am going to talk a little more about Toronto’s trade. Backup catcher Erik Kratz and Australian right-hander Liam Hendriks were sent to the Kansas City Royals organization today in exchange for infielder Danny Valencia. Both were incredibly surprised and appeared to be happy about the move.
“It caught me off guard a little bit but I think it’s going to be exciting, a new experience,” Hendriks said. “They haven’t told me where I’m going yet but I know my wife and I are pretty excited to try to start it again and see how this goes. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Royals organization so I’m pretty excited.”
Kratz said: “I’m really excited. It’s a team that’s still making a push for the playoffs and hopefully I can help that. Obviously I understand what role I play on the team and [Kansas City] has Salvador Perez, they have their starter, and so I want to fit in and keep the train moving and not get in the way.”
For the Bisons squad, this was a tough blow. The Aussie hurler was leading the league with a 2.33 ERA and a circuit-low seven walks to go with 91 strikeouts over 108 1/3 innings and 16 starts. When Kratz wasn’t with the big-league club he split time behind the plate with Blue Jays prospect A.J. Jimenez and non-Canadian Canuck Mike Nickeas. I call Nickeas that because he was born in Vancouver when his British father played soccer for the Whitecaps, but he is the owner of dual British and American citizenship and doesn’t consider himself Canadian. These kind of facts are important to me. But yeah, the team will miss the guys who are now officially gone. And because they were both dealt as the Bisons game began, some of their teammates didn’t even get to say goodbye.
“It’s definitely a huge loss to the team,” outfielder Kevin Pillar said. “Every time Liam takes the mound we know if we get a couple runs early it’s going to be a pretty good game for us. He keeps the fielders in the game because he doesn’t walk guys and he pounds the zone and he’s been lights-out for us. He keeps us in every game he throws and you look forward to his start every fifth day…
“It’s a huge loss but at the same time you understand it’s a business and all of our goals are to get to the big leagues, whether it’s with our organization or another organization. I couldn’t be happier for Kratz, [too]. I just found his out his locker was empty when I came back and he’s worked hard and deserves it.”
Kratz had already been on my laundry list of interviews for my brief – now longer – stop in Buffalo, for a piece I’m working on pertaining to the incredible number of transactions Buffalo has made this season. They team has set a new modern-era franchise record, and Kratz represents a few of those transactions. So I got to talk to him pre-trade and post-trade, which was interesting because right before finding out about the move he’d told me this was already the craziest year he’d ever had in his career, and it’s been really hard on his wife Sarah because she’s the one carting around their three children. My story on him can be found here.
I had also been planning to write a piece on Hendriks for the Australian Baseball League at some point, after speaking with him following his start on Saturday, but probably not as soon as I wound up actually doing so. My story on the man from the land down under can be found here.
Among other pieces of mine that have been pushed back due to the trade deadline, I also spoke to the team’s clubhouse manager Scott Lesher and pitcher – with options – Chad Jenkins about all of the year’s transactions. My Bisons list of interviews over the weekend also included the previously mentioned pitchers Kyle Drabek and Mike Zagurski, new acquisitions who are also former farmhands Brad Mills and Brett Wallace, and All-Star-turned-Triple-A-reliever Steve Delabar. Some of those pieces will be up sooner than others and several will be behind many more stories on Canadian players. My most recently posted Canadian player piece is on AZL Mariners pitcher Logan Seifrit and can be found here. He talks diabetes, Arizona summers and his time with Team Canada. It’s worth a read, of course.
So, back to Japan.
Patricia Wong, the wonderful mother of young Canadian Junior National Team member Andrew Yerzy, whom I wrote about here, has been helping me try to plan out some things to do and see, should I have some extra time while I am across the world.
First, she reassured me that Miyazaki is a beautiful place. After I travel with the Women’s National Team to Tokyo for their exhibition play, we are all moving to Miyazaki, the southern tip of Japan, for the actual World Cup tournament. We’re fortunate to be staying at a beautiful oceanside resort during that time. Obviously, I can’t wait.
But on the first list of things that Patricia has been so kind to take the time to bring to my attention are the fish market, the Imperial Palace, a district of Tokyo called Akihabara, the Asakusa Kannon Temple, one of Tokyo’s most colourful and popular Buddhist temples and the baseball hall of fame at the Yomiuri Giants stadium. Of course. She also included a couple of specific museums and other options for day trips, though we don’t have any full days off while the team is playing in Tokyo so that might be tough.
Patricia has got me doing a lot more intensive research now, and it’s a whole lot easier than when I was just shooting arrows in the dark on Google. So now I know a little bit more about what I am looking at and where I would love to go and what I hope to do, if there is time, and I so badly just want to count down the days and get there.
But there’s a lot more baseball before then, and this is just the start of the Japanese adventure. I am also intrigued by the thought of Japanese vending machines after in a quick phone call to Will Lingo – one of my editors at Baseball America and among the top of awesome people I know – he mentioned them. He didn’t give me much detail, which allows the intrigue to grow. But now, I am going to pack some extra change for the vending machines in Japan. I don’t even know if they take change. I am not even sure if Japan has coins. More research to be done, obviously.
Off to a decent start though, I’d say.
So, oyasumi. I think that means good night.