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Thursday, August 06, 2020

Carter Stewart ditched the MLB draft to pitch in Japan. Then came the coronavirus

But while Stewart slowly is picking up the Japanese language through conversations with cashiers, restaurant servers and teammates, he’s still living in a country where he’s one of few Americans adjusting to a drastically different culture. He has bonded with former major leaguer Matt Moore, who’s playing for the big league Hawks, but the reality of isolation often sets in.

“You walk outside and it’s a completely different atmosphere, language—everything,” Stewart said. “[Try to] do your work in another language. My friends will say that they understand the loneliness, but as of right now, I’ll just be like, ‘I get it, you’re lonely, but you’re not lonely, lonely.”

The reprieve from the isolation comes from the 30-minute trips on the bullet train to the team’s minor league facility in Chikugo, workouts with teammates and of course, games. When Stewart arrived in Japan, he often had fans approaching him for photos, given there aren’t many 6-foot-6 Americans walking around. He still takes those pictures, but now they are socially distant, with everyone wearing a mask.

“I think at the baseball field, anything around there, I’m completely fine, I’m really enjoying it. I enjoy doing my job,” Stewart said. “I think just being at home at times, I have video games, I have watching TV, I have interior designing, I have learning Japanese, I have cooking. I have a lot of things I can do, but doing that all alone, sometimes it can be a lot less fun.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 06, 2020 at 10:38 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: carter stewart, japan

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   1. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 06, 2020 at 12:47 PM (#5968159)
I have no idea about his musical tastes, but if he would have any interest whatsoever in all-female rock bands, I hope one of his teammates clues him in to the Japanese scene.
   2. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: August 06, 2020 at 01:24 PM (#5968166)
This is really creepy. I had never heard of Carter Stewart until last night. In the Cubs/Royals game, Nico Hoerner faced former Stanford teammate Kris Bubic. This sent me down the rabbit hole of the first round of the 2018 draft, where I happened to discover the #8 pick went unsigned and is currently playing in Japan. I was going to post a question in the game chatter, but I got distracted, and now this article shows up.

Looks like he passed up about $5 mil in signing bonus.
   3. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: August 06, 2020 at 01:29 PM (#5968167)

Stewart shook up the baseball world in May 2019 when he declined to reenter the MLB draft, instead signing a six-year contract worth more than $7 million with the Hawks. He had turned down an offer of around $2 million to sign with the Atlanta Braves the previous year, after the team selected him with the No. 8 pick in the 2018 MLB draft. Stewart chose to begin his professional career overseas, a former first-round MLB draft pick making an unprecedented leap.

Looks like the Braves low balled him. The #7 pick got $5.2 mil and the #9 pick got $4.6. You have to drop down to pick #28 to find someone "around" 2 mil.
   4. flournoy Posted: August 06, 2020 at 02:53 PM (#5968180)
The Braves low-balled him after he failed their physical, which revealed a previously unknown wrist injury. Pretty big story at the time.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: August 06, 2020 at 05:26 PM (#5968209)
I've mentioned before that some younger NBA draft prospects came over to the Australian bball league this past offseason. That's a lot easier when the languages are (mostly) the same. The pay's not much but it's more than zero.
   6. asinwreck Posted: August 06, 2020 at 09:38 PM (#5968228)
Because the Braves low balled him, Stewart is making more money than he would otherwise, is playing more baseball than he would otherwise, and is living in a country that has had fewer coronavirus deaths than Indiana has suffered. He has a chance to return to the US in his mid-twenties with a much larger contract and an appreciation for living in a country where you are a non-native speaker that could lead to a better rapport with some of his future teammates. This could wind up as a development that makes him more successful than he would have been had the Braves offered slot.
   7. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 06, 2020 at 09:48 PM (#5968230)
well said, 6. The lack of an alphabet's got to be difficult; that would be the worst of it for me.
   8. asinwreck Posted: August 06, 2020 at 09:52 PM (#5968231)
I hope he's had the opportunity to speak with Warren Cromartie about the cultural change. Cromartie is another guy from Florida who made the move (albeit later in his career) and wound up thriving in Japan.
   9. Adam Starblind Posted: August 07, 2020 at 08:46 AM (#5968248)
I think if I went to have a 20 year career in Japan I'd end up like Bartolo Colon in the U.S. -- somehow still unable to speak the language.

Some people have a head for languages. Some don't. And some people's heads are even worse than that, like mine.

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