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.
Lovullo explained to Kyodo News in a 2019 spring interview that while a back injury prevented him from playing more than 29 games, his time with the team had been special.
"The lessons I learned were that the tedious work habits pay off," Lovullo said. "Their pitchers fielding practice. They practice so much and they're very good at it. So their perfect practice develops perfect plays. I brought that mentality here."
"And the finer points of the game inside the game, how to complete rundowns, how to do things just a little bit differently, more efficiently, I brought to America."
Orix Buffaloes reliever Yoshihisa Hirano, who recorded a save in Japan Series Game 3 on Tuesday, pitched two seasons for Lovullo with the Diamondbacks.
Like Lovullo, Hirano's current manager with Orix, Satoshi Nakajima has a deep understanding of pro baseball as viewed through another country's eyes, having served as a minor league instructor with the San Diego Padres after he retired.
"These two managers are really quite similar," Hirano said Sunday at Kyocera Dome Osaka.
"Manager Lovullo really surprised me, because I couldn't imagine there actually were managers like him in America," Hirano said. "I was really indebted to him."