Thursday, January 25, 2007

Yankees Heading East, Far East

A team of Yankees executives will travel to China next week to outline possible future growth efforts for Major League Baseball overseas, the team announced Thursday.
Yankees president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman will head a contingent that is scheduled to spend a total of seven days in Asia, with visits also planned for Japanese clubs and interests.

The Yankees have been invited to Beijing by the Chinese Baseball Association, with the intent of providing guidance to develop the game in The People's Republic of China.

In the near future, the Yankees hope to establish a working relationship in which they will be able to send staff -- including players, coaches, scouts, player development and working personnel -- to China, and also receive Chinese Baseball Association personnel at Yankees facilities in the United States.

Assistant general manager Jean Afterman and vice president of corporate sales and sponsorships Michael Tusiani will also make the trip.

Levine said that the visit will principally focus on baseball matters, and has been about six months in the making. The Yankees and Major League Baseball have continued dialogue with the Chinese Baseball Association in a collaborative effort.

The international recognition of the Yankees' brand, Levine said, made the team a strong choice to be the first club with an official strategic alliance in China. With an overall population of more than 1.3 billion, it is believed that creating and developing talent in China could be one of baseball's next great international frontiers.

Sports stars such as the NBA's Yao Ming have already been produced by the athletic-minded community; meanwhile, Beijing has been tapped to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. The Yankees are encouraging other clubs to create inroads to what could one day become a fertile talent pool for the Major Leagues.

The Yankees hope to help speed up the process of establishing that product by "planting their flag" in China, as Cashman put it.

Chinese baseball is in an infancy stage -- China was outscored 40-6 in three World Baseball Classic losses last March to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan -- but Cashman did not rule out the idea that the Yankees might wind up signing an impressive player from China within the next few years.

Following the contingent's visits in China, the Yankees will travel to Tokyo to meet with the senior management of the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Since 2002, the Yankees have had a strategic partnership in Japan with the Shimbun, owners of the Yomiuri Giants baseball club. Cashman said that the partnership has been mutually beneficial, with each club learning new techniques and innovations to help performance both on and off of the field.

With Yomiuri, Cashman said the Yankees have exchanged information ranging from advanced scouting to pregame stretching for players.

The contingent also plans to visit with the leadership of the Hanshin Tigers, personally thanking the club for its assistance in the development of Kei Igawa. A 27-year-old left-hander, Igawa signed a five-year, $20 million contract with the Yankees in December, and he is projected to be in the club's starting rotation going into Spring Training.


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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:31 PM


  • Blogger Skittles posted at 9:45 PM  
    Ok.. I zip about baseball except that the Tigers lost the series. (I live near Detroit.) But, welcome to my blog. I'll give you a post tomorrow :)
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