Mariners, Athletics to play next season’s opener in Japan

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks after a memorial mass for New York Mets Hall of Famer Rusty Staub at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK (AP) The Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners will play an opening two-game series in Tokyo on March 20 and 21, the fifth time Major League Baseball will start its season in Japan.

Major League Baseball said Oakland will be the home team for both games. Both the Athletics and Mariners will play Japanese teams in exhibitions on March 17 and 18.

The A’s and Mariners also faced each other in the last opening series at the Tokyo Dome, splitting two games in 2012. The Chicago Cubs and New York Mets played there in 2000, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2004, and the Boston Red Sox and Oakland in 2008.

”It should be fun,” Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien said after Tuesday’s announcement. ”I’ve heard good things about it. We play the Mariners, too, so it’ll be a fun series against a divisional opponent. We’ll just want to play our best and win.”

MLB also announced a postseason All-Star tour of Japan from Nov. 8-15 this year that includes four games in the Tokyo Dome, one at Hiroshima and two in Nagoya. The opener will be against the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants and the remaining games against a Japanese All-Star team.

Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was a toe in his right foot when hit by a pitch in Tokyo during a 2014 postseason tour.

”I love Japan,” he said. ”The cities are so clean and nice there, and the fans are great. I can’t wait.”

Major league players receive an extra $60,000 each for the regular-season series in Japan and $100,000 apiece for the postseason tour.MLB also has played international openers in Monterrey, Mexico (San Diego and Colorado in 1999); San Juan, Puerto Rico (Toronto and Texas in 2001); and Sydney, Australia (the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona in 2014).

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