12/03/2003 6:29 PM ET
Games in Japan gain momentum
A trio of top Major League Baseball officials met with the top brass of
the Yankees on Tuesday to try and finalize a two-game, season-opening series between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays this coming March 30 and 31 in Japan's Tokyo Dome.
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
"The Yankees are a good possibility for opening next season in Japan," said Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and
chief operating officer. "We should have an answer by next week."
The season-opening series in Japan would follow two days of exhibition
games between the Yankees, Devil Rays and the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin
MLB had discussed with the Yankees about opening the regular season in
Japan last offseason after New York signed former Yomiuri Giants star
Hideki Matsui to a three-year, $21 million contract. Matsui, who
narrowly missed winning this past season's American League's Rookie of
the Year Award, was a three-time Most Valuable Player in the Japan's
Central League and played 10 years for the Giants.
But those preliminary talks with the Yankees ended after a
season-opening, two-game series between Seattle and Oakland scheduled
this past March in the Tokyo Dome was moved to the U.S. because of the
pending military action against Iraq. The bombing of Iraq began on the
day both teams were scheduled to fly from their Spring Training camps in
the Phoenix area to Tokyo.
At Tuesday's meeting in New York, the Yankees were represented by team
president Randy Levine, chief operating officer Lonn Trost and general
manager Brian Cashman. DuPuy, executive vice president Tim Brosnan and
senior vice president Paul Archey represented MLB. Levine declined to comment about the Yankees' prospects of playing in Japan.
The first and only time MLB played regular-season games in Japan was
when the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs split a two-game series in the
Tokyo Dome to open the 2000 season.
Barry M. Bloom is a
national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the
approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.