Torey Lovullo, who this year managed the underdog Arizona Diamondbacks into Major League Baseball's championship series, played only briefly in Japan, but has credited the injury-hit final year of his career with opening his eyes to different possibilities within the game of baseball.

One part of the Diamondbacks puzzle this year was Lovullo bringing in a guest instructor from Japan, Hall of Fame catcher Atsuya Furuta, a 2000 teammate of his with the Tokyo-based Yakult Swallows.

"I explained to this player, who was a superstar ... and asked him if I ever did (become a manager), if he'd join my staff in some capacity," Lovullo said during spring training.