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Category: Ichiro Suzuki

Japanese baseball players in U.S. try to contact friends, family after deadly earthquake

Ripples from the earthquake that devastated parts of Japan were being felt as far away as Arizona and Florida on Friday as Japanese players tried, sometimes in vain, to reach friends and family members.

The quake, the largest recorded temblor to strike Japan and the fifth-largest in history, caused power failures and fires, shuttered airports and paralyzed transit systems, killing hundreds and setting off a massive tsunami.

Former Dodgers pitcher Takashi Saito took an indefinite leave from the Milwaukee Brewers' facility in Phoenix after being unable to contact his parents. Saito was born and attended college in the northern city of Sendai, home to 1 million people. The city, on Japan's northeast coast, was the closest population center to the epicenter of the 8.9-magnitude quake. And though Saito has been in contact with his wife, Yukiko, and three daughters, he has been unable to reach his parents, team officials said.

Kei Igawa, in minor league camp with the Yankees in Tampa, Fla., also left the team after failing to get information about his family.

Igawa's family lives in Ibaraki, which was also hit hard.

Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki and Boston Red Sox pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima also spent much of Friday trying unsuccessful to get through to their relatives although they said they believed their families were safe. Matsuzaka said he made contact with friends in Japan through e-mail but not by phone.

"Cellphones and power are down. There are 4 million people without power in Tokyo," Suzuki told reporters at the Mariners' camp outside Phoenix. "I have not gotten ahold of my family yet."

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