Dodgers Checking Japanese Prep Pitcher

The Dodgers are among seven Major League teams checking out Yusei Kikuchi, a highly touted Japanese high school pitcher who has less than a week to declare for Japan's amateur draft. He is scheduled to hold talks with the Dodgers, Red Sox, Rangers and Giants on Monday. The Yankees, Mets and Mariners plan on meeting with the left-hander on Tuesday.

The young man, armed with a 96 mph fastball, will also speak with all 12 Japanese big-league ballclubs in the coming days. Teams from Japan are not allowed to make formal offers prior to the country's amateur draft on Oct. 29. Nippon Professional Baseball has requested that Major League teams also withold offers until after the draft.

October 8 is the deadline to declare for Japan's draft, and Kikuchi seems is a consensus first overall selection. If drafted by a Japanese club and decides to sign with a Major League team, the young pitcher would face a three-year ban from the Japanese Major Leagues if he ever wanted to return to Japan to play baseball.

If a Japanese team selects Kikuchi in the draft and he sings, he would have to wait nine years to become a free agent or enter a posting system that would require permission from the player's Japanese club to allow Major League teams to bid for the right to negotiate with the player.

In 2006, the Red Sox obtained the rights to negotiate with pitcher Diasuke Matsuzaka through the posting system with a winning bid of $51.1 million. Boston drew criticism last year when it signed Japanese amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa, who was passed up in Japan's amateur draft after indicating he wanted to play in the Majors.

Tazawa, who was 22 years old at the time and had pitched in the Japanese industrial leagues before signing with the Red Sox, is one of only three Japanese players to have played in the Majors without first having played pro ball in Japan. Kazuhito Tadano and Mac Suzuki are the others.

Mattingly Interviews with Cleveland

Don Mattingly

Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly, who seems to be the heir apparent to take over when manager Joe Torre retires, has interviewed for the vacant Cleveland Indians manager's job and has also been approached by the Washington Nationals about their managing job.

"I've wanted to manage a long time and I've been moving in that direction," said Mattingly in an interview but said the Nationals told Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti their interview process will start after the World Series.

"I'm flattered the organization thinks I'm capable of managing, or at least they'd think I could," Mattingly added. "It was a chance to get to know them and for them to get to know me."

Mattingly was reportedly one of eight to 10 candidates interviewed over the phone by Tribe general manager Mark Shapiro and assistant general manager Chris Antonetti last week, during the Indians' organizational meetings in Goodyear, Ariz.

It is thought Mattingly is one of the four finalists for the job who will have a more formal interview with the Tribe's front office later.

Thus far, it has been reported that former Nationals skipper Manny Acta is a finalist, along with former Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine but that was not confirmed by the club.

Mattingly, 47, is the former Yankees All-Star first baseman who was passed over for Joe Girardi as Torre's replacement when Torre and the Yankees parted company after the 2007 season. When Torre accepted the Dodgers' offer, he did so only if Mattingly and third-base coach Larry Bowa came with him.

Manny Mota to Be Honored

Manny Mota

One of the greatest pinch-hitters in baseball history and one of the most popular Dodgers, Manny Mota and his family will receive the "Ray Boone Family" award at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation's 7th annual "In The Spirit of the Game" Sports and Entertainment Spectacular Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

Mota, who has been a member of the Dodgers organization for 40 years, and his wife, Margarita, have one of the largest families in baseball with eight grown children—Jose (44), Andres (45), Domingo (40), Manuel (39), Maria (37), Rafael (34) and Tony (31).  Manny, who came from a family of eight in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Margarita celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary this year.  

This season marks Mota's 30th year as a coach in the Dodgers organization, the longest tenure in Los Angeles history.  The lifetime .304 hitter had a playing career of 13 years with the Dodgers spanning 1969-1980 and 1982.  Prior to joining the Dodgers, his 20-year playing career found stops in San Francisco (1962), Pittsburgh (1963-68), Montreal (1969) and the Dodgers. 

He set the Major League Baseball record for career pinch hits at 150, a mark that was broken by former Dodger Lenny Harris in 2001.  His 15 pinch-hits in 1979 with a .357 average off the bench surpassed the previous record of 144 held by Smokey Burgess.  Mota, who works with the Dodgers' Latin American players, came to the Dodgers in a trade with Montreal in 1969 with Maury Wills for Ron Fairly and Paul Popovich.  

The Mota family started the Manny Mota International Foundation, a non-profit organization which has raised money to build a medical clinic, baseball fields and a school in the Dominican Republic.  The foundation also helps needy children in the Dominican and United States and it also awards college scholarships.  The entire Mota family is very active in working for the foundation with the annual dinner and golf tournament they stage each year in Southern California as well as events in the Dominican Republic.  

Mota's son, Jose, is a broadcaster for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  This is his eighth season in the booth for the Angels.  He has earned an Emmy for his work on Angels telecasts.  Besides his work for the Angels, he also has worked for ESPN and FOX on telecasts and he also is a baseball analyst for Yahoo Sports. 

Like his father, Jose was a former Major Leaguer with the San Diego Padres (1991) and Kansas City Royals (1995).  He was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1985 after earning honors as a two-time Collegiate All-American second baseman at Cal State Fullerton.  He also earned a bachelors degree in Communications there.  He was the starting second baseman on the 1984 National Championship team at Fullerton.  

The award, named after the late Ray Boone and his family, the first family to send three generations of players to the Major Leagues—son, Bob, and grandsons Bret and Aaron.  The Boone family was presented with the first award in 2005 and other families honored included the Buzzie Bavasi family in 2006, the Brett family in 2007, the Buddy Bell family in 2008 and the Alou family in 2009.

  The annual gala, attended by 1,500 guests, including many prominent figures from the world of sports, entertainment and media, will be hosted by former major leaguer and long-time Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker.  Uecker will be joined by popular CNN television/radio host Larry King and former major league pitcher and broadcaster Rob Dibble.  

The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation has helped baseball scouts in need due to job loss, illness or financial hardships over the past six years thanks to the success of this annual fundraiser.  Dennis Gilbert heads up the foundation.     

The event has honored many legendary baseball Hall of Fame players, managers, scouts, coaches and executives, including Willie Mays, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, and Cal Ripken, Jr., as well as Goose Gossage, Whitey Herzog, Eric Gagné, Curt Schilling, Olympic Gold Medalist Jennie Finch, the Boone Family, the Brett family, the Alou family, Major League Baseball executive Pat Gillick, the Boeckmanns, legendary baseball scouts George Genovese, Dave Garcia, Hank King, Gene Bennett, Mel Didier, Epy Guerrero, Moose Johnson, Lenny Yochum and the late Bob Zuk. Past attendees include: MLB Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig, Rod Carew, Tommy Lasorda, Frank McCourt, Arte Moreno, Jerry Reinsdorf, Lew Wolff, Mark Attanasio, Brady Anderson, Bret Saberhagen, Chase Utley, Darrell Evans, Don Newcombe, Barry Zito, Joe Borchard, Alyssa Milano, Don Johnson, Tom Arnold, Jane Seymour, James Keach, Michael McDonald, Donnie Most, Mary Hart and Kenny Loggins.

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