— -- 1. You gotta get up to speed -- fast
I met Masahiro in a hotel the day before we did the big news conference in New York to introduce him. We said hello, shook hands; he was very polite. But Yankees personnel called a meeting to get things sorted out for the announcement, so I had to start translating right away.
2. Fortunately, fastballs are a universal language
I haven't taught him any English. But when it comes to baseball, even though he doesn't understand the language, he gets the general idea. When catcher Brian McCann goes out to the mound, he'll say, "Let's go with this pitch next." If Masahiro had problems during a game, he'd ask for my help. But he hasn't.
3. You work for everybody
His teammates come to me and ask how to say things in Japanese. Once, a player wanted to rib him about being a celebrity with a pop-star wife. After I whispered a translation in his ear, he went over to Masahiro and said in Japanese, "What a life!" We all started laughing -- including Masahiro.
4. There's no batting a thousand
Sometimes I go blank -- especially when his responses get long. I feel bad when I do that; some of the words get kind of lost. But I try not to edit what he says too much. That wouldn't be fair to the media.
5. Space is the final frontier
We spend a lot of time together. Breakfast. Ride to the stadium. Pregame warm-ups. The game. Ride back to the hotel. The toughest skill I've had to learn in this job doesn't have anything to do with language. It's when and how to give Masahiro space.
-- As told to Melissa Segura