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December 13, 2005

Bobby's Advice: Don't Learn English!

Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine has a little advice for Kenji Jojima: don't waste time learning English. The former Fukuoka Softbank Hawks all-star catcher recently signed to play with the Seattle Mariners, and much of the English language media has focused on his limited English skills, considered vital for communication with pitchers. Jojima seems to agree and has hired a private tutor to teach him English before he heads to the US to join his new team. But Valentine, speaking at a winter meeting last week, advised the player that he has all the communication skills he needs. "You'll regret it if you spend time studying English. You don't need words." He added, "If I were his manager, I'd put together video and statistics on his pitching teammates and on opposing batters and send them to Jojima along with someone who could explain them to him. I'd leave English and info on opposing pitchers until later. Knowledge, rather than communication, is the key." Valentine is a prime example of someone who overcame the language barrier and achieved great success, this year becoming the first foreign manager to win the Japan Series.

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