Terry Collins left the Orix Buffaloes last May due to disagreements with the front office, but he has nothing but praise for current skipper Daijiro Oishi.
Oishi took over from Collins and steered the Buffaloes to a second-place finish, the team's best result since winning the Pacific League and the Japan Series in 1996.
"He was the only coach who would come and talk to me about anything," Collins said Friday at Tokyo Dome.
Collins, who returns to Japan as the manager of China's World Baseball Classic team, said Oishi was the lone Japanese coach who would speak up in meetings.
"Everyone else would just agree with everything I said," Collins said. "But if he [Oishi] disagreed or thought we should do things a different way, he'd say so."
Less than two months into his second season, Collins tired of constantly battling the front office over roster decisions.
From the beginning, the skipper insisted the organization get younger and faster, but his efforts were thwarted and some of his speedier players were traded away for alleged power hitters.
"It was the first time I wasn't enjoying the game," he said of his abrupt departure.
Looking back, he never could have imagined that he would be back in Japan, managing at Tokyo Dome this week.
The road back began last summer, when Major League Baseball executive Bob Watson called him and enlisted his help for the United States' preparations for the Olympic Games. Collins helped by filling in Watson, his GM when he was manager of the Houston Astros, on Japanese players.
A few months later, Watson's assistant called and asked Collins if he'd like to manage in the WBC.
Collins, who also skippered the Anaheim Angels, was surprised when the offer was not for the United States, but China.
"I told him I just left a good thing in Japan and I wasn't going back to Asia," Collins said. "I told him I'd have to think about it."
After China, or at least the team, came to him in the United States, Collins decided to sign on.