Japan trip not one to miss for Enrique, Taylor

November 11th, 2018

TOKYO -- The Dodgers players participating in the Japan All-Star Series knew when they committed to this trip that there was a chance they'd have little downtime between the postseason ending and having to hop on a plane to fly to the other side of the world.

That didn't deter them from wanting to be part of this experience, however. The Japan All-Star Series comes around only once every four years, and the rosters -- and the invitations to participate -- rarely duplicate from trip to trip.

This is, essentially, a once-in-a-career opportunity. It was a notion embraced by and Chris Taylor, both of whom had just a couple of days between playing their five-game World Series with the Red Sox and heading out on a team charter to Hawaii for the start of the two-week venture.

"We got done playing two weeks ago," Hernandez said. "But it never crossed my mind, playing a lot of baseball, that I wouldn't want to be a part of this series anymore."

Had the World Series been played to the full seven games, Hernandez and Taylor would have had two days to prepare before leaving for Hawaii, where the trip began. If the Dodgers had won the championship -- a scenario both players obviously would have preferred -- they would have likely skipped the Hawaii leg of the trip in favor of a World Series parade, then traveled on their own to Tokyo for the start of the six-game tournament.

The more convenient scenario -- though also the most disappointing -- allowed for the players to simply remain in Los Angeles and fly out on a flight that departed from there.

But a tougher travel schedule, had it happened that way, would not have deterred either player from going on the trip. Hernandez remembered watching the Japan All-Star Series after his rookie season in 2014, hoping that he'd have the chance to be a part of it at some point in his career. When he was approached earlier this season, he jumped at the chance.

"It's something that I've always wanted to be a part of," Hernandez said. "I've always wanted to come to Japan. To see Japan and play baseball is the best of both worlds. As a big leaguer, you have your goals, and I think this is one things that I can check off the bucket list. It's somewhat of a dream come true."

Taylor also realized he needed to seize the moment while it was available to him.

"You have to take advantage of these opportunities when you get them," Taylor said. "You don't know what's going to happen in a couple years, or when these chances are going to come. I'm just trying to live in the moment and take advantage of every opportunity that these last couple of seasons have given me."

The schedule has been jam-packed -- with sightseeing most mornings, followed by games at night. The sightseeing part is voluntary, of course, but scores of players and their families have taken advantage of the touring options that have been offered.

Hernandez has been particularly busy, working in several sightseeing opportunities while also acting as a willing participant in several fan outreach programs scheduled through MLB and the MLB Players Association.

He's also soaking in the atmosphere during games, noting the joyous manner in which Japan's baseball fans express their passion for their team. Hernandez, a native of Puerto Rico, said it reminds him of home.

"Just by playing in the [World Baseball Classic], by seeing highlights of these games, how great, how crazy the atmosphere is -- it reminds me a little bit of winter ball back home, with all the singing and cheering during the game," he said. "It's something that I've always wanted to be a part of."