The Dodgers on Friday continued to beef up their infrastructure with the hiring of Isao O'Jimi as head scout in Japan.
O'Jimi, 56, worked with Bobby Valentine with the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1995, then worked with the Mets from 1997-2011, first as a scout and eventually as director of pacific rim scouting. While with the Mets he was involved in the signings of Masato Yoshii, Jae Seo, Jorge Toca, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Satoru Komiyama, Kazuo Matsui, Dae-sung Koo, Timo Perez, Takashi Kashiwada and others.
O'Jimi was a catcher who played for four years in the Seibu Lions' minor league system but never made it up to the big club. In a 2000 interview with Harvey Araton of the New York Times O'Jimi downplayed his playing acumen:
''I play four years,'' O'Jimi said. ''But not a very good player.''
''You must have been pretty good to make the Japanese majors,'' he was told.
''No,'' he insisted. ''Not very good.''
He spent a few years in London studying English and international trade and, as he told Wayne Coffey of the New York Daily News in 2002, "I thought I was out of the baseball business."
He thought his profession would involve importing Irish woolens and Italian slacks, not exporting Japanese ballplayers to the States. However, he got back into the game when a teammate became manager of the Daiei Hawks in the Pacific League, and invited him to serve as a bullpen catcher and interpreter.