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MLB to Allow Interpreters on Pitcher’s Mounds
A recent proposal to allow interpreters to follow coaches to the pitcher’s mound is not completely unprecedented. In countries like South Korea and Japan, interpreters have been part of coaches conferences with players for many years. Players who may not fully understand the language of their coaches can certainly benefit from an interpreter when these conferences take place.
Pitchers like Hiroki Kuroda from the Yankees will find it much easier to communicate problems with other teammates and coaches with the help of an interpreter. And, this is not the first time that this issue has been presented. In 2008, C.J. Nitkowski was pitching for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan and the interpreter for the team followed the manager around on occasion to help Nitkowski to better communicate.
Of course, having someone on the mound that is not actually part of the team could cause awkwardness. In the United States, many Asian pitchers do not actually go through the minor league before being drafted into the majors. This means that there is little education for them with regards to learning English and being able to communicate effectively through game play. Nearly 20 years after Hideo Nomo arrived in the majors from Japan, a rule is set to be adopted that will allow team interpreters to accompany managers and coaches to the mound in order to help the pitcher better communicate throughout the game.
Officials have stated that interpreters will be permitted for a variety of foreign languages including Japanese, Taiwanese, South Korean, Italian, Dutch and Spanish speaking players. Pitchers do not always understand everything that they are told, although most of them will nod as if they fully understand. This language barrier is certain to have caused issues throughout many games and adding the rule allowing interpreters to assist in communication could completely upset stats for many teams. Now that players are going to have better communication, teams that were facing these issues may have a better season. At least the pitchers are going to know without a doubt what their coaches are trying to say and will be better able to follow through with what coaches and managers are trying to tell them.