Koji Uehara's longtime interpreter still appreciates his 'dream job'

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C.J. Matsumoto has been Koji Uehara's translator for six seasons and their easygoing rapport speaks

First laughed as he responded in Japanese.

Then delivering Uehara's lighthearted answer to a lighthearted question about what he thought about his longtime interpreter, C.J. Matsumoto, speaking in English, did the same.

"I think he's about to be fired," Uehara said through Matsumoto — about Matsumoto.

This easygoing rapport speaks volumes about why this partnership has prevailed through six seasons and two franchises. So does Matsumoto's initial reluctance to be interviewed about his intriguing past given that Uehara, too, comes across as humble upon first meeting.

"Everywhere he goes, I go," Matsumoto said, alluding to Uehara and his job.

But his path to that task has been anything but direct.

Matsumoto learned English after his family moved from Japan to Australia for five years for his father's work. When he returned to Japan, baseball replaced cricket as a passion and Matsumoto set his sights on working for the country's Nippon professional league, translating American players into his native tongue.

When he didn't land a job, he decided to attend journalism school at Oregon and then spent six years in Los Angeles trying to land a steady sportswriting gig. Again, he struck out.

Back in Japan, he caught his big break. The Diamondbacks needed an interpreter for . But the snakebit theme continued as Saito endured an injury-plagued season, making just 16 appearances in his final season.

Again at a crossroads, Matsumoto didn't know whether to return to Japan when the Red Sox called. and his interpreter were moving on, but the club still had and Uehara.

He hasn't left Uehara since.

"I know a lot of interpreters, they want to become something else. They want to step up and might become a scout, a GM in Japan. I don't really have that kind of ambition," Matsumoto said. "(Uehara) probably feels that I'm an easy guy to deal with I guess because my dream job was to become an interpreter.

"Being an interpreter is pretty volatile. Some aren't as lucky as I am. I feel privileged. And I enjoy it as much now as when I started."

When Uehara closed the 2013 World Series, Matsumoto did his work on the postgame dais — and then had a moment.

"When I was on the mound celebrating, it seemed like a dream," he said. "I still look back at that experience and feel that way."

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