The Red Sox have embarked on an exchange program with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks that recently allowed two of their minor-league hitters to go to Japan and work with the great Sadahara Oh.
Boston's field coordinator Craig Shipley sent Double-A Portland manager Todd Claus and Pacific Rim scouting coordinator John Deeble to Japan along with minor-league outfielders David Murphy and Justin Sherrod for 11 days to work with the Hawks. Murphy and Sherrod worked within Oh's hitting program.
"John and I were in Japan last summer and felt this was something worth exploring," says Shipley. "The discipline and work habits are remarkable, and I think apply to playing winning baseball. It's nothing for them to have a 45-minute infield drill involving every infielder and outfielder and not see a ball bobbled, a cutoff man missed or any mistakes. And if someone does make a mistake, you hear the reaction from the crowd.
"This was just the beginning of an exchange program where they will (also) send players to our spring training. We thought a lot about who we wanted to send and decided on the two outfielders who we thought could benefit the most.
"Murphy (a 2003 first-round draft pick who hit .261 with four homers in an injury-plagued 2004 for Class A Sarasota) has a good swing, he just needs to have a better approach, and I think it helped him. Oh is remarkable. In this country, it would be as if Babe Ruth were still alive."