Howe to be hitting coach for Team China

HOUSTON -- Former Astros, A's and Mets manager Art Howe will serve as hitting coach for China during this year's World Baseball Classic. Howe was asked by Chinese manager John McLaren to replace Wally Joyner, who took the job as assistant hitting coach of the Phillies.

"John called me and asked me if I'd be interested in being the hitting coach for the team, and I said, 'Yeah, why not?'" said Howe, who won 1,129 games in 14 years as a manager.

Howe, who lives in Houston and has served part-time as a pregame and postgame analyst on Astros television broadcasts the last few years, will leave at the end of the month for Arizona, where China will train at the Mariners' complex. The Chinese team will then fly from Phoenix to Japan for the first round of the Classic against Japan, Cuba and Brazil.

"I'm just going to go in and work with them individually during the spring and try to do what I can to make them better," he said. "The first part will be learning their names. That will be the real challenge to start with. I'm really looking forward to it. I've been to Japan a couple of different times and it's always nice to go there."