It wasn't all that long ago that many skeptics considered Takashi Saito a long shot to make the jump from Japan to the Major Leagues. However, in the span of just two years, Saito has established himself as an All-Star closer and an ambassador for the Dodgers. The 37-year-old from Miyagi, Japan, compiled 63 saves over the past two seasons while earning the admiration of his teammates for his play on the field. And his personality quickly made the man they call "Sammy" one of the more popular players in the Dodgers' clubhouse. The Dodgers think so highly of their right-hander that they asked him to fly back to Los Angeles from his home in Japan to be one of four current players, along with Nomar Garciaparra, Hong-Chih Kuo and James Loney, to represent the team on their first official float at the 2008 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena on Tuesday. "It's an honor for me to be a part of this parade," said Saito through his interpreter, Kuni Nakatani. "I always enjoy seeing my teammates, but more than that I am excited to see the famous former Dodger players. I'm very excited and can't wait to see them."
Dodgers' Saito Emerging As Team Ambassador