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John E. Gibson

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NPB a growing destination

by John E. Gibson (Mar 31, 2012)

There's a twist on the big league dreams forming out there, it seems.

It's different from the one Japanese players had--the one in which they uprooted, leaving behind fame and at times a portion of their potential fortune to cross the ocean and play in the major leagues.

This vision is one stirring among some players in the majors to get everyday jobs in a league with ever-growing respect--Nippon Pro Baseball.

"It kind of works both ways now. This is definitely a prestigious league out here in Japan," Coco Crisp told The Daily Yomiuri at Tokyo Dome on Thursday's final day of the two-game Opening Series.

"Ultimately, the No. 1 place to be is the major leagues. But the way [the Japanese] respect the game and go about playing it, it carries that same tradition that you get over in the States," said Crisp, who played here in 2008 as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

"A lot of guys now don't use the words, 'I wouldn't mind playing here.' They're now saying, 'I would love playing here,'" added Crisp, who played with Daisuke Matsuzaka in Boston.

Said A's skipper Bob Melvin: "I've had some conversations with players who are nowhere right now, and a lot of guys look at the brand of baseball [here] and how good it is now, and they look at this as another option--and a significant one.

"If I was still playing and I was in the position of being on the cusp of being maybe an everyday player or a guy who wasn't quite there yet, this is certainly another challenge at this high a level of competition."


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