The bulk of Sakata's coaching career has been in San Jose, where he won three California League titles as manager between 1999 and 2007. The last few seasons have taken him far from his home base in the Bay Area. Sakata was the farm team manager for the Chiba Lotte Marines in 2008-09 and got back into baseball in the States when Colorado offered him a position in their Minor League system in 2011.
Sakata spent one season as the Class A Asheville Tourists' hitting coach before he took the helm of the Nuts this season. For Sakata managing in a new organization is business as usual.
"Everyone wants to achieve the same thing," he said. "There are different philosophies and the players are different. The method might be slightly different. Ultimately it's the relationships that you cement with the players that you're responsible for that summer."
Sakata spoke about his feelings being in a different Cal League dugout and facing his former team for the first time since he returned from Japan.
"It's a little weird," he said. "I didn't realize how much of an effect it would have on me, coming back and being on the opposite side of the field.
"Still, it's a nice place to come back to," he said.
Sakata left the Giants for a bigger job in Japan, where he worked with Bobby Valentine for the Marines. With Valentine as the field manager, Sakata co-managed nearly every aspect of his players' lives -- from the food they ate, to travel dates, to the uniforms.
"That was fun because I had to think on my feet and think ahead," he said.
It was his second coaching job in Japan. Previously, Sakata worked as a farm team manager in Japan in the 1990s and moved around a lot, including a promotion to third base and infield coach.
Sakata was on the move again when he accepted the job with Asheville and once again managing in Modesto. He's the winningest manager in Cal League history with 615 wins and is building upon his record every day.
"Most of these records in the Cal League are here because of longevity," he said. "San Jose was successful in developing players and we won three titles. A lot of our kids went on and did well after San Jose and some got to the big leagues. That's what the goal really is."
Vast improvement: High Desert outfielder James Jones has turned his season around. He began the year hitting .200 in April and steadily improved with a .299 mark in May and a .341 average in June. His power also jumped with nine home runs over the two-month stretch. Jones has hit safely in eight of nine games and has five doubles this month. He has also walked 10 times in his last 10 games.
Grade A: Modesto's Christian Bergman allowed one unearned run July 5 against San Jose and notched his third win in a row. Bergman is the Nuts' wins leader with 11, and he's won seven of his last eight starts dating back to May 21. The right-hander has thrown a league-best 104 1/3 innings and has pitched at least six innings over each of his last four starts.