IRVING, Texas — Oakland and Seattle will become the second pair of major league teams to open the season in Japan, playing a two-game series next March in Tokyo.
Under the plan announced Wednesday by baseball commissioner Bud Selig, the major league teams will play split doubleheaders on March 22 and 23 at the Tokyo Dome against the Yomiuri Giants and the Seibu Lions, who met in this year’s Japan Series.
The Mariners and Athletics, who had been scheduled to open against each other in Oakland, will then play each other the following two days, then return to the United States, where most teams are scheduled to open March 31.
“The clubs are happy,” Selig said. “They wanted to go.”
Seattle’s principal owner, Hiroshi Yamauchi, is Japanese, and the Mariners’ roster includes three Japanese players: 2001 AL MVP and AL Rookie of the Year Ichiro Suzuki, 2000 AL Rookie of the Year Kazuhiro Sasaki and Shigetoshi Hasegawa.
Baseball’s other international openers were in 1999, when San Diego played Colorado at Monterrey, Mexico.