During the winter meetings, each major-league manager has a session with the media that’s open to all accredited reporters. Don Wakamatsu held his today, and it was made clear before he started that he would not discuss Chone Figgins or any other player that was not yet the property of the Mariners.
One member of the Japanese media tried a back-door approach to see if he could get Wakamatsu to discuss the possibility of free agent Hideki Matsui joining the Mariners. Obviously, if that were to happen, with the two biggest names in Japanese baseball in one clubhouse, it would be monumental news in Japan.
“What were your impressions of Hideki Matsui’s performance in the World Series?” was the innocent query.
Wakamatsu replied, “Awfully impressive. But again, as a manager and as a coach, I’ve seen him for a number of years. He’s such a professional player, and he’s such a perfectionist, it doesn’t really shock you. I mean, obviously he had some great series against us this last year. That lineup is just so potent that — he’s a professional player and an awfully good one.”
Pretty harmless stuff. But the reporter sensed an opening, and went in for the kill.
“Is that the kind of professionalism you would want in a clubhouse? ”
Wakamatsu smiled and said, “Well, again, I respect him as a player. I think acquiring players, I’ll leave that up to Jack.”
Lest you think this is just a ploy of the Japanese media, one Boston reporter tried something similar with regard to Jason Bay, a possible Mariner target.
Q. What have been your impressions of Jason Bay, playing against him?
DON WAKAMATSU: Impact bat. Obviously to watch him, the effect that he had with Boston is awfully impressive. But again, professional. This guy had a tremendous year, and he was helpful for the Boston Red Sox.
Q. Does it mean anything to you when you hear the reports that he would like to play in Seattle, it’s his home town?
DON WAKAMATSU: No. Again, I think I’ll wait and see how this turns out in the next couple weeks, and again, if there’s a possibility at all of those guys, Jack will take a look at it and he’ll share it with us.”
Today’s lesson: Don’t try to sneak a fastball by Don Wakamatsu.