A big thanks to Masayuki Takami of the Nishinippon Shimbun for transcribing, translating and feeding these quotes from Kenji Johjima’s conference call with the Japanese media today. (You get two strokes the next time we play golf, Masa. As long as I get two mulligans.)
Here’s a portion of what Johjima said:
Q: Why leave the Mariners now?
Johjima: “I have been thinking since I came here (to the major leagues), I would like to go back home while I still can perform at a very high level. I thought it is time to do.
“Of course, it is a very hard decision, I had been thinking if it was the right time to do or not. I asked myself so again and again. But I concluded that I would like to play every day, I would like to play for a team which really wants me, needs me. That’s my straight answer.”
Q: When did you have thoughts of returning home?
Johjima: “I had some thoughts during the season, but didn’t have enough time to think about it. After I came back to Japan (following the Mariners’ season), I talked to my wife and family, then reached my decision. I told them what exactly I wanted.”
Q: What do you want from your next team?
Johjima: “Playing time will be the most important condition to choose. That’s the reason I left the Mainers. Of course, I have to compete to get the job, but it was huge disappointment for me not to play every day the past two years. I would like to go to a team which will give me an opportunity.”
Q: What are your thoughts on the Mariners and their fans?
Johjima: “Four years ago, the reason I chose the Mariners was their quick action. (When I became a free agent) they rose their hands faster than any other teams. I thought it was a huge gamble for them to give me a chance. So, I greatly appreciate that.
“As for the fans, I wish I could have an opportunity to explain my thoughts … because they have been supporting me for four years. I feel deeply sorry I may not have a chance to do so.”