Saito leaves Crew camp; family in Japan safe

Saito leaves Crew camp; family in Japan safe

PHOENIX -- After a few tense hours away from Brewers camp, reliever Takashi Saito was able to account for the safety of all of his family members living along Japan's Pacific coast, where a massive earthquake struck Friday.

Saito was in contact overnight with his wife, Yukiko, who was safe on higher ground with the couple's three children. Later Friday, Saito finally reached an uncle, who reported that Saito's parents and other extended family were all accounted for.

Those family members live on lower ground near Sendai, a city of about one million north of Tokyo that was devastated by the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan.

The 8.9-magnitude quake caused fires and a deadly tsunami in Miyagi Prefecture, where Saito was born in 1970. He attended Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai.

"He's obviously concerned, pretty upset about what happened," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said after speaking to Saito on Friday morning.

Saito requested and received permission to leave Maryvale Baseball Park on Friday to seek further information. He left behind some very worried Brewers teammates.

"We love that guy, and we obviously wish him the best," Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder said. "He was able to contact his wife and kids, which is awesome. That's a little bit of pressure off your chest.

"I wish him the best, and I hope he just takes his time and does whatever he needs to do to make sure the rest of his family all right. This [baseball] is secondary right now. We're going to be fine. He needs to make sure everything is all right."

Fielder knows the area hit by Friday's earthquake firsthand because he visited Japan during the offseason as part of a Major League Baseball goodwill tour.

Saito will return to camp on Saturday but will not pitch, as originally scheduled. He last appeared in a game on Tuesday, and has been following a slightly different schedule than other relievers because he finished last season with a shoulder injury.

Saito signed a one-year free-agent contract with the Brewers in late December, and the team is counting on the 41-year-old to be a key piece of the Opening Day bullpen.

The earthquake also caused worry for Saito's translator, Kosuke Inaji, but he told someone in the clubhouse that his extended family lives on Japan's western coast and was less impacted by the disaster.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.