Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin expects Hiroyuki Nakajima to have a smoother road of success in the big leagues than Yoenis Cespedes has. Nakajima signed with the A’s in December, so he should have ample time to get settled in with his new team. All in all, his transition should go over quite well, Melvin believes. This was not the case for Cespedes, unfortunately.
Cespedes had a rough start with the A’s. He did not report until three weeks into training and had to learn a whole new set of rules and procedures that he had not learned in his native Cuba. Instead of making any progress whatsoever last year, he spent more time learning about how baseball worked in American culture. It was a rough start for the Cuban player.
Melvin has high hopes for Nakajima.
“In Japan they do so much work in spring training, more than we do here,” he said. “It takes a while for a player coming from there to get used to that. I’ve had Japanese players before; it’s not a challenge to get them to work…I have heard that he’s a very hard-working kid. There’s more to playing over here than just getting to know his teammates, the coaches and the manager. There’s a pretty sharp learning curve in spring training, but he’s got the background for it.”
I suppose Melvin is speaking from experience. When it comes to managing Japanese players, he has had an easier time getting them ready to work. Melvin managed other Japanese stars such as Kazuhiro Sasaki and Ichiro Suzuki.