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Laughs trump political correctness as Cubs highlight Kawasaki

Cubs players wear samurai headbands during pre-workout warmups Friday morning.

MESA Ariz. – Popular new Cubs infielder Munenori Kawasaki, an eight-time Japanese leagues All-Star who played the last four years in the majors, put his well known sense of humor on display Friday morning as teammates unveiled a Kawasaki/Japanese-themed event before pre-workout stretching.

Never mind the Chinese and South Korean music that was part of the playlist blaring from the team’s gigantic speakers as they stretched and warmed up after having Kawasaki do a karaoke performance of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”

Players and field staff wore samurai headbands during the performance and while warming up – with “Kung Fu Fighting” opening the workout mix.

Politically incorrect? At least.

Reason to cringe? Not, apparently, to Kawasaki or teammates.

“Today was as surprise, yeah. I was a little bit nervous, but after very happy,” said Kawasaki, who spoke in limited English without an interpreter after joking he had a book he could use for translations. “Everybody was happy; [I] was happy. Everybody had good energy; [I] too.”

Kawasaki said he picked the song – “tough song to sing” — because it’s his favorite after watching “Armageddon” 30 times.

“No, 33 times,” he said.

“You’ve got to have a guy that’s not afraid to do those kind of things,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He loves karaoke. We’ve been planning this for a big, and then of course it got more inappropriate as it went along, which made it even better.”

After raising the “inappropriate” aspect, Maddon was asked if there was anything he wouldn’t be willing to do for a team gag.

“I think so,” he said. “I think there’s things I wouldn’t do, let me put it that way. I don’t know what that is yet.

“We’re just having a pretty good time right now. Political correctness has been at an all-time high over, what, the last couple decades. And we’re not trying to hurt anybody. It was just all in fun.

“Kawasaki got it started [by singing],” Maddon said of the exuberant performance that had teammates screaming and cheering. “It was a blast. I think everybody can appreciate the humor.”

“He nailed it,” teammate Kris Bryant said of the karoke. “That was awesome.”

Asked if he plans to do it again, Kawasaki said:

“No more. No mas.”