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Meet the AL Manager of the Year: Don Wakamatsu

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Manager Don Wakamatsu of the Seattle Mariners is seen before the start of a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at the Peoria Sports Complex on February 28, 2009 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Shanan H.Analyst IMay 3, 2009

"There was absolutely no doubt that he (Wakamatsu) had the capabilities to one day manage in the big leagues," Mike Scioscia once said. "He was a terrific teacher, communicator, and he knew the game."

Who will win AL manager of the year?

I say not Garnedhire, not Maddon, not Girardi, and not Francona.

Who?

Don Wakamatsu.

Wakamatsu, 46, has made history this season by being the first Asian manager.  But it is the history of his family that serves as his inspiration to succeed.

He is off to a good start in his pioneering position and is stealing some of the attention from the Japanese press that typically hounds Mariners star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

Wakamatsu has had a very difficult job to do.  He had to make a team ready to get into the playoffs.

He had to switch the attitude.

The team lost its way defensively and lacked discipline.

Also, he had to re-introduce many of the new players, with a roster being refreshed.

What amazes us most?

He fixed all of those.

His Plan:

1.  For starters, he refused to allow a repeat of the ills of 2008: a lack of patience at the plate, uninspired defense, a toxic dugout filled with selfish attitudes.

2.  Next, Wakamatsu sought to identify the strengths of each player and build on them while also making sure each man understood his limitations.

3.  Keep everyone involved. 

Part of Waki's change included some clubhouse work; he made life more fun, and he brought players with great attitudes (Chavez, Griffey, Sweeney).  Now, players come to play, not to work.

"I think that's one of the biggest reasons for the way we're playing," pitcher Carlos Silva said. "Like, everybody is so happy. You go out there and you feel like you are going to win because everybody is so happy and everybody wants to do good."

All of this as a rookie.

Rick Rizz said "He comes in as a rookie manager, but he acts like one [a manager] who has been at it for years."

Maybe he'll win rookie of the year.  He deserves it!

A new day, a new way.

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