Ex-Red making noise in Japan
By Jim Armstrong / Associated Press
TOKYO - Marty Brown stormed from the dugout to argue a play at first base, and got ejected. The Hiroshima Carp manager got the final say: He yanked the bag out of the ground and tossed it into the infield.
"In the U.S., it's no big deal and the manager is expected to stand up for the team," he said later.
In Japan, though, that's still makes for quite a show. One that could become more common in the future.
Brown is in his first season with Hiroshima and is one of three American managers in Japan's pro leagues, joining Bobby Valentine of the Chiba Lotte Marines and Trey Hillman of the Nippon Ham Fighters.
"This is a great opportunity," Brown said recently. "This is a major league club, we're just in a different country."
Brown, 43, who briefly played in the majors with Cincinnati (1998-99) and Baltimore (1990), took over the Carp in the off- season after a successful career as a minor league manager in the United States.
In 2004, the Oklahoma native was picked as the International League Manager of the Year and Baseball America's Minor League Manager of the Year for the job he did with the Buffalo Bisons, the Cleveland Indians' Triple-A farm team.
"I thought Marty was a real intense guy. He wanted his players to play hard. He was a good guy to play for, a guy that the players really played hard for," Cleveland star Travis Hafner said Wednesday after a win at Minnesota.
"As long as you showed up and played hard every day, he was a great guy to play for. But if guys weren't playing hard, I'm sure he'd get in your face," he said.
For years the Carp floundered at the bottom of the Central League standings. Under Brown, the team is off to a modest 19-21 start for fifth place but has won five of its last six games and is showing signs of progress.
Hiroshima is hoping Brown can duplicate the success Valentine has had in Japan. The former big league manager led Chiba to its first title in 31 years last season and has been credited with importing an American way of playing the game.
"Things are going good," Brown said. "The players are still making adjustments to me and what I expect. There's a different mind-set on how we approach things, so obviously there are adjustments to make as we go."
Cleveland pitcher Cliff Lee saw Brown's style up close in Buffalo.
"If the team needed a little pick-me-up, he would get on you. But he could also be laid back and just let things flow," he said. "You got a little bit of everything when you were with him, depending on the situation. That's what the good managers can do."
Brown has had little trouble adjusting to his new job. He played for the Carp for three seasons in the 1990s after hitting .180 in 35 games as an in- fielder for the Reds and Orioles.
Brown says Japan's players have improved in the last 12 years.
"The players are bigger and stronger now," he said. "The Japanese players are now more healthy, they're lifting weights, similar to what we did in the States."
When Brown lifted that base out of dirt after being ejected, he was fined. Hiroshima pitcher Mike Romano was also ejected from the game and fined $500 by the league.
"I was just taking care of my player," Brown said. "I was showing the team I would stand up for a player when he hadn't done anything wrong.
Brown's players like the way the American manager is running things.
"This year, everybody knows their role," said closer John Bale, who is in his second season with the team. "Last year, you'd see guys throwing in the bullpen in the first inning. By the time they got into the game, they'd thrown 90 pitches."
Brown said the biggest difference in managing in the States and in Japan is the attitude of the players.
"The work ethic here is great," Brown said. "I don't have to deal with any of the problems that I had to deal with in the States.
"With my team, I have yet to see one of my players not give 100 percent on the field."