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Cody Satterwhite Seeks Opportunity in Japan

Cody Satterwhite with his wife and daughter.

It’s potential verses reality. Unknown verses certainly. The single-minded passion of a prospect for his career verses the comprehensive consideration of a man for his family.

Cody Satterwhite knows the gap between amassing one of the best career numbers and actually getting a called-up to grace major parks. Crafting his skill on the mound used to be his only concern, now Satterwhite also shoulders the responsibility to provide security to his family outside the diamond. That’s why Satterwhite is leaving his stellar Triple-A season behind for an opportunity in a new territory after signing with the Hanshin Tigers in Osaka, Japan, of the Nippon Professional Baseball League .

“Japan is a great opportunity for my family and my career and the money is guaranteed,” He wrote in an email. “If you do well in Japan it can open up better opportunities both in Japan and back in the States. It’s a good resume builder, you could say. ”

This February, Satterwhite signed with the Los Angeles Angels and made an immediate impact on the Salt Lake Bees, Angels’ Triple-A affiliate. The right-hander put up a 1.80 ERA and had a career best 1.08 WHIP in his 18 appearances with the Bees. But it is still not enough for the 29-year-old to break into the majors, for a reliever position that keeps revolving, and with now a baby to care for his decisions for his career needed a change.

After a contract was offered by the Tigers with guaranteed money, Satterwhite decided to build on his momentum in Japan, which had always been on the table for his future plans.

Satterwhite has arrived in Japan this week and the reliever will be acclimated to Japan’s style of baseball on the minor league side a week or so once his visa is approved. Then Satterwhite is expected to upgrade the strength of the Tigers’ bullpen in the Central League.

While he does not speak Japanese, Satterwhite is not worried about the adapting process. After all, baseball is the common language. Adding to that, Satterwhite has played against Japan while in college against their collegiate national team and then again this past off season in the Premier 12 tournament, both times with Team USA.

“Their baseball is slightly different in that it’s more fundamental and a lot of small ball, not as much power hitting but very good contact hitters,” Satterwhite said. “It’s hard to explain. The Japanese culture loves their baseball and the environment is very exciting. Japanese baseball is much like American football-the fans are diehard.”

Going through an up-and-down career that has been compromised by two shoulder injuries, Satterwhite understands how fragile the game can be, but also how perseverant he should be. Injuries have never shattered his faith and he is always ready to go out and prove doubters wrong. Having spent three years outside baseball for surgeries makes him grateful for every pitch on the diamond, no matter where he is.

“Knowing this helps me work harder, give my best every day and persevere through all the ups and downs of the game to earn and keep a roster spot,” Satterwhite said. “I love the game and want to be in it as long as possible, so I really cherish my career and every opportunity I am given.”


Thomas is currently a sports reporter at World Journal (a Chinese-language newspaper serving oversea readers). He majored in journalism and took sports communication emphasis courses at Syracuse University. He has covered different sports for SU’s Newhouse Sports Media Center. Born and raised in China, Thomas hopes to use sports as a platform to get a better understanding of a different culture where people immersed in sports. He is also a hiphop fan.

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