12/15/2008 7:44 PM ET
Dodgers name Daisuke Yamashita infield coach at Camelback Ranch-Glendale
Yamashita is the first full-time coach from Japan hired to a Dodgers Player development team
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that they have hired Daisuke "Duke" Yamashita as infield coach at Camelback Ranch-Glendale for the 2009 season. Yamashita, a native of Shizuoka, Japan, will specialize in infield instruction, specifically fielding, and brings more than 15 years of coaching experience to Camelback Ranch-Glendale.
"We've been searching for an additional infield coach to try different methods to stimulate our system and Yamashita was highly recommended by Acey Kohrogi, Dodger Director of Asian Operations. We are always open to new teaching styles, technology and creative ways of developing players," said Dodger Assistant General Manager, Player Development De Jon Watson. "Yamashita brings his vast coaching and playing experience to the Dodger organization."
Yamashita has extensive coaching experience in Japan. Recently, the infield coach served as a coach for the Rakuten Eagles (2005). Prior to that, Yamashita managed (2003-2004) and coached (1998-2000) the Yokohama BayStars, winning the 1998 Japan Series Championship.
"I am honored to become part of the Dodgers' coaching staff. In 1973 when I was a senior at Keio University, I visited Los Angeles as a member of the Japan-US collegiate baseball championship and played at Dodger Stadium," said Yamashita. "Ike Ikuhara of the Dodgers helped me a lot during that visit and the whole experience was an asset to my career. Thiry-five years later, I am connected with the Dodgers again. Now it's my turn to help the young players to achieve their American dream."
Yamashita had a successful playing career in Japan as well, playing for the Taiyo Whales of Japan's Central League for 14 years. He was the Whales' number one draft pick in 1974 and was a four-time All-Star during his tenure there (1974, 1975, 1978, 1981). Yamashita also set records for the most consecutive chances without making an error at shortstop in both the Central League (205, 1976-7) and the Nippon Baseball League (322, 1977-8). He was awarded Golden Glove awards for eight consecutive seasons (1976-83) as well as the Best Nine award (1981). Yamashita also boasted a fielding average of .988 in 1976.
The Dodgers have had a presence in Japan for more than 50 years, beginning in 1956 when the Brooklyn Dodgers took part in a postseason tour of Japan. Later, the club became the first in Major League Baseball to open an office in Asia (1998) and also played in Japan in 1966 and 1993. The Dodgers had numerous development exchanges with Japanese professional and amateur teams. Since 2001, the Dodgers have been affiliated with Nippon Professional Baseball's Buffaloes of Osaka.
The Dodgers have cultivated Japanese talent and brought to Major League Baseball the first Japanese star in Hideo Nomo who won the 1995 National League Rookie of the Year Award and pitched seven seasons for the Dodgers, 1995-98 and 2002-04. Saito signed with the Dodgers in February 2006 after playing professionally in Japan for 14 seasons from 1992-2005. He made his Dodgers debut during the 2006 season by converting 24 of 26 save opportunities, posting a 2.07 ERA, and striking out 107 hitters, a Major League high among relievers. Kuroda joined the Dodgers in 2008 following a successful 11-year career in the Japanese Central League. He became the seventh Japanese player in Dodger history when he won his Major League debut on April 4. The right-hander went on to post a 9-10 record and was one of just 19 pitchers in the National League to register an ERA below 3.75.