Former big leaguer So Taguchi has been touted as a candidate to manage the Pacfic League’s Orix Buffaloes next year and does dreams of managing one day — but in the United States rather than Japan.
“My final dream is to manage over there, be the first Japanese,” he told Kyodo News on Friday at Tokyo Dome. “I’ve held on to that final dream all this time. I don’t know how things will actually turn out, of course.”
Taguchi, who began his career with Orix and retired with the Buffaloes after the 2011 season, spent eight seasons in the big leagues, the first six with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he formed a bond with Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa. During his playing days, Taguchi would quiz the skipper about his in-game moves, and La Russa was eager to satisfy his outfielder’s thirst for knowledge.
La Russa, now the chief baseball officer of the Arizona Diamondbacks, has been trying to lure Taguchi back as a coach. However, Taguchi’s desire to stay near his parents and his son in middle school, means he is not ready to move to the States.
In Tokyo two weeks ago with a contingent from the Diamondbacks, La Russa said Taguchi will be welcomed whenever he’s ready.
“He has a young son, and his mother and dad, they (Taguchi and his wife) want to be around them,” La Russa said a few hours after having breakfast with Taguchi.
“. . . he was so impressive and made such a reputation when he was in the States, that when the timing is right a number of organizations that knew him personally like the Cardinals and some of us with the Diamondbacks, we would be very interested in him.”
Taguchi could just as easily coach in Japan, but his dreams are fixed on the big leagues, where he believes players could benefit from his Japanese perspective. And if he should accomplish his goal, it would mean a deeper understanding of how Japanese can make an easier transition to the majors.
“In the majors, there are so many talented players, and if they could be even a little more grounded in fundamentals, one wonders how much better they could get. Their games still have room for improvement,” Taguchi said.
“Also, if I can coach in America, then it could become easier for Japanese players to go over. I think Japanese baseball can catch up to American baseball by my doing that, and that would benefit Japan, as well. I’ve felt it would be good for Japanese baseball and players for me to keep learning in the U.S.
“I think how you approach things is important there. There are lots of players in Japan who are good enough to perform (in the majors), if they are told ‘you should think this way’ when they arrive, and I want to be there to help them adjust their approaches as soon as they arrive.”
Unlike his contemporary Hideki Matsui, who has said his own English limitations would preclude him from taking a job as a regular coach, Taguchi can make himself understood in English.
“His English is good,” said Chunichi Dragons infielder Hector Luna, Taguchi’s teammate for three years with the Cardinals. “We played together in the World Series. He’s a good guy.”