Above: Marie Iwamatsu pictured with the San Diego Padres athletic training staff in 2012
By Rick Griffin | Seattle Mariners, Head Athletic Trainer
The PBATS International Program began in 1994 when Charlie Strasser of the Los Angeles Dodgers and I went to Japan to establish an exchange program with Japanese athletic trainers. A program was then established that allowed students from Japan to come and work with athletic trainers in spring training each year. The program typically lasts for up to two weeks each season.
The athletic trainers involved in the program learn how to diagnosis, manage, treat injuries, while also learning how to develop return to play programs from baseball injuries. The athletic trainers also learn how to work in athletic training settings in Major League Baseball.
To date, more than 100 Japanese athletic training interns have completed this program. The program continues to be one of the most important projects for PBATS and for the development of athletic trainers in countries outside of the United States.
Coupled with this program, PBATS has sent more than 12 athletic trainers from Major League Baseball to participate with the Japanese athletic trainers in educational exchange programs. These athletic trainers learn what it’s like to work in Japanese professional baseball.
Another exciting program within PBATS is led by Ray Ramirez of the New York Mets. Ramirez heads up an exchange program that allows athletic trainers from Latin America to participate in spring training with teams from Florida. This program has been running for more than 20 years and has been hugely successful.
PBATS is involved in a number of other programs. In addition to the other exchange programs, PBATS works on an exchange program with the Carlow Institute in Ireland. We accept 3-4 students each spring training. They come to Arizona for 7 weeks and work daily with the athletic trainers from the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics. This is the 5th year of this program.
In the past, we have worked with Murdoch University in Australia to provide educational exchange opportunities for their students as well. Over a six year period, we have had exchange programs with students from Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands and look forward to expanding our role in baseball sports medicine throughout the world
PBATS has also organized trips for PBATS members to educate and teach baseball sports medicine to groups in Ireland, Australia, Spain, Canada, Japan, Latin America, Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy. And we are currently working with groups in London to expand our programs.
Not to be forgotten, each year PBATS sends two of members overseas to continue to spread the knowledge base of PBATS and to work toward continuing to be a leader in exchanging baseball sports medicine worldwide.
None of this would be possible without the tremendous PBATS membership and the willingness to sacrifice time to participate in the sharing of knowledge and the talent it takes to teach athletic training outside the U.S.