Red Sox to open 2008 season in Japan against Athletics

Nov 14, 2007 - 3:26 PM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Red Sox Nation will have to rise early to get their first glimpse of the defending World Series champions in 2008.

Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics will open the 2008 season in Tokyo, Japan.

The two-game series will be played at the Tokyo Dome on March 25-26. Prior to the series, each team also will compete against Nippon Professional teams in day-night doubleheaders on March 22-23.

It marks the third time MLB will open its season in Japan, the last time being when the New York Yankees faced the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2004. The New York Mets also met the Chicago Cubs in 2000.

"Opening our regular season in Japan for the third time is another example of Major League Baseball's commitment to continue the global growth of the game," commissioner Bud Selig said.

With them, the Red Sox will bring a distinct Japanese influence in righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka and lefthanded reliever Hideki Okajima.

"We are honored to be invited to represent Major League Baseball, and open the 2008 MLB season in Japan, one of the greater baseball nations in the world," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said.

The Athletics did not have a Japanese player on their roster to end last season.

"Baseball is truly a game without borders and we are pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of the game's growth on an international level," Athletics president Michael Crowley said.

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