Takashi Saito Relishing Role with Padres

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Takashi Saito is enjoying his new role with the San Diego Padres as a front office intern.He has quickly embraced the opportunity to learn more about the business side of baseball and build bridges between two cultures.

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As Jim Allen of the Japanese Times explains, Saito wasn’t that far removed from his last professional pitch when he decided to intern with the San Diego Padres. Saito stated upon his announcement to join the Padres and head off to Nashville for the Winter Meetings:

“My premise is that for the future of Japanese baseball, people will be needed to enact change and this is my one chance.”

Ambitious goals to be sure, and from a guy who had thrown his last professional pitch just a month prior which ended with a strike out from a 85 mph ‘heater’.

After latching on late in his career with the Dodgers, he became their closer in 2006 and pitched for several other teams before returning to Japan in 2013. That season his hometown team of the Sendai Eagles won the championship behind Saito in the bullpen and starter Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 for the season before joining up with the New York Yankees.

After another solid 2014, his body finally wore out in 2015. He was only able to pitch in 3 games but did finish with that strikeout.

“I’ve had to drag this worn-out body to the mound to pitch, but maybe that act in itself has given people courage.” Saito said after his last game was over, ending his professional playing career.

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Saito doesn’t seem to have any out-sized expectations about what he will get long-term out of the opportunity.

"“What I’m endeavoring to learn now is something my baseball career has not adequately prepared me for. In the context of raising my skill level, the things I learn while studying here are going to bring huge changes. But it’s not just baseball but rather organizational things that I am able to learn. I think this will have applications for sports other than baseball as well. I think various possibilities will arise…How it might change — even if it doesn’t change at all — thinking about this is a plus for me.”"

He is conversing with new Padres manager Any Green and soaking in all he can while also providing his own unique perspective, both from a player who played on two continents and his own perspective from a man who has seen all sides of the game.

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