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D-backs execs to make goodwill visit to Japan

Club has been active internationally, hopes to continue to cultivate relationships

PHOENIX -- The D-backs' front office will continue to pile up the frequent flier miles as a contingent of executives will travel to Japan as part of a one-week goodwill trip from Aug. 14-20.

Team president/CEO Derrick Hall, chief baseball officer Tony LaRussa and special assistants Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez will visit with the Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner's Office, MLB Japan, several NPB teams' front offices and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and will make a public appearance at the Major League Baseball Road Show.

D-backs director of Pacific Rim operations, Makoto "Mack" Hayashi, will also take part in the trip.

This is not the first trip to Japan for the D-backs, who have been active internationally both when it comes to signing players like Cuban Yasmany Tomas as well making goodwill visits.

The D-backs have been to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, among others. They opened the 2014 regular season against the Dodgers in Sydney, Australia, and this past spring, they played the Rockies in Hermosillo, Mexico.

"The relationships that we have built in Japan since our last trip in 2012 have been very beneficial, and we believe it is important to continue to cultivate those friendships and grow our brand globally," said Hall. "Not only will we get the opportunity to see several players firsthand, but visiting alongside two Hall of Famers [Johnson and La Russa] and our franchise's most popular player ever will create an impact in that country for generations to come."

This will be La Russa's first trip to Japan, while Gonzalez and Johnson both played there in 2000 with a group of MLB All-Stars.

"It has been a long-time bucket list item for me, and I've always wanted to visit Japan," said La Russa. "I have heard so much about the culture, the people and the knowledgeable Japanese baseball fans and have had the honor of managing several Japanese players, including one of my favorites, So Taguchi, who I'm hoping to see on this trip."

The Roadshow on Aug. 17 is one of MLB's grassroots programs designed to give children an opportunity to experience baseball activities through fun and games. The Roadshow is an attraction-filled event that has been hosted in Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. In Japan, the Roadshow has traveled many prefectures starting in 2012. In 2015 it will be held in Tokyo, Ishikawa, Miyagi, Miyazaki, Chiba, Okinawa and Gifu Prefecture.

The D-backs franchise has a history in Japan that dates back to before the franchise played its first game in 1998.

D-backs former general manager Joe Garagiola Jr., then-manager Buck Showalter and senior adviser for Pacific Rim operations Jim Marshall made a goodwill trip there in 1997.

Garagiola made numerous trips to Japan during his tenure as GM, and in 2004, the team formalized a working relationship with the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.
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