Tag Archives: Warren Cromartie

Warren Cromartie speaks

Warren Cromartie recently met with subscribers to talk about his experiences in the majors and in Japan and share his opinions on a variety of topics from “insensitive” comments by former Seattle Mariners CEO Kevin Mather to baseball in Montreal and new Red Sox reliever Hirokazu Sawamura.

Have a listen. If you want to take part in one of the live chats, you need to join jballallen.com on either a free or paid subscription.

Slugging it out in Japan, again

For the last two years, Cromartie has been living in Japan with his wife and child, and spent much of the 2019 season as an on-field advisor to the Giants.

Getting by in a foreign language

Asked about former Mariners CEO Kevin Mather’s candid comments about service-time manipulation and his characterization of players by their language skills, Cromartie talked about the challenges of playing in a country where many don’t speak your language.

Lost in translation?


On-field celebrations can be a tricky subject for MLB players, but in Japan they are welcomed by fans and part of the scenery. So when former major leaguers get in the act there is sometime friction.

Japanese fans customarily cheer the players who drove in runs in the previous half inning as they take the field, upon which the players respond by tipping their caps, bowing or waving. Cromartie tells how his response became one of his trademarks.

Going to America

Asked about Japan stars back in the day that he thought could play in America. Of course prior to free agency, players couldn’t go during their career. And until Hideo Nomo proved otherwise, the prevailing belief both here and in the majors was that Japanese weren’t good enough.

Sawamura goes to the Sox

During his time with the Giants, Cromartie became familiar with right-handed reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, who recently signed with the Boston Red Sox.

Making adjustments in a new country

Everybody goes to Nicks…

…to paraphrase the line from “Casablanca.” On those few nights a year when all of NPB’s teams were in town, the imported players would all gather at Nicola’s Pizzeria in Roppongi, whose owner, Nick Zapetti, was the intriguing anti-hero of Robert Whiting’s “Tokyo Underworld.”

“There used to be two foreign players on a team. There would be times when all the teams would be in Tokyo at the same time, about two times a year, and we would all meet up at Nicks, this pizza place in Roppongi. It was like a brotherhood. We couldn’t wait to all get together. Whenever we played each other during the season, we’d always go out to dinner. We’d get the chance to see two other foreigners, the four of us would go out to dinner.”

–Greg “Boomer” Wells

Here’s what Crow had to say about those nights.

Bring back the Expos

On baseball in Montreal, it’s history and its future.

Should kids from America go straight to Japan?

Crow on conformity

Conformity is certainly a topic in Japan. Do all Japanese play the same way? I’m not convinced but there are times when watching a series of NPB at-bats is like a video representation of those “Can you spot the 10 differences” picture puzzles.

Sadaharu Oh

Ok. This time’s it’s Cromartie’s turn to talk about Sadaharu Oh.

That’s a hit in Double-A rookie

Cromartie talks about his rookie debut with the Expos against the then power Pittsburgh Pirates.

Is Japan’s hustle for show?

The balance of power in Japan

Cromartie expresses his views on the differences between Japan’s two leagues.

Kuwata’s back

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara this year brought former ace Masumi Kuwata onto his staff as a pitching coach, and Cromartie couldn’t be happier.

Eat your Wheaties

One doesn’t make light of the coronavirus pandemic, but it has given us some great moments by making coaches’ and players’ audible during games, as happened Monday in a Yomiuri Giants intrasquad game at Okinawa Cellular Stadium.

Hiroyuki Nakajima hit a ground rule double he thought was a home run and as he was ordered back to second by the umpire, one could hear voices from the dugout giving him — as they used to say on “Leave it to Beaver — the business.

“You should drink protein,” and “Eat more rice,” were two of things shouted at Nakajima as he retreated to second base.

As a young shortstop with the Seibu Lions, Nakajima had a tremendous physique and generated a lot of power, so in a March 2011 interview I asked about his training and nutrition regimen.

“I lift, but I don’t take any extra nutrition or supplements, unless my teammates give me amino acid stuff, and then I take those to humor them,” he said then, making me wonder if that is still his routine and if a teammate might have been on the money.

In Monday’s live chat with Warren Cromartie, I mentioned how new pitching coach Masumi Kuwata was ridiculed by former players for doing weight training in the 1980s. There is a suspicion of weight training among older players in Japan, which makes little sense. It’s almost as if to engage in strength training goes against the nation’s snobbish assertion that Japanese players are good, despite lacking physical strength, because they practice to the ends of the earth to execute in games.

Japan’s Colonel Curmudgeon, Isao Harimoto recently said of players doing weight training in camp, “The game is about hitting a ball with a bat. The time spent building muscles that might hinder you as a hitter or a pitcher would be better spent practicing hitting and pitching.”

Every team has weight rooms and strength coaches, but many teams see them as more of an accessory for the players who want to make use of them. I used to think all the teams hired strength coaches based on expertise, but according to players, some teams apparently use that position as just another way to employ a former player with few other job prospects.

Had Shohei Ohtani played for a different team than the Nippon Ham Fighters, it’s possible he would have only acquired more knowledge about strength training on his own. In 2018, Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami revealed he’d been a pro for five seasons and had never been taught about the need for nutrition or recovery.

With the Fighters, the organization sets the strength and fitness programs, but Japanese style is for the manager to make changes if he doesn’t like what’s going on. A few years ago a Lions trainer told me that nothing had changed in the way Lions players were expected to train in his five seasons there.

The Hawks did a 180 when Kimiyasu Kudo, who studies sport science, became manager. Their previous GM, Itaru Kobayashi, had expanded the club’s medical and training staff base, but under old-school manager Koji Akiyama, the staff’s input was limited. Kudo changed things.

Whether Nakajima takes protein now or not at his age is no big deal, but it perhaps a good sign that some on the Giants bench at least knew enough to rib him about it.