BY John Hickey 10:47PM 04/01/2011

M’s, A’s chip in as MLB aids Japan victims

Disaster recovery draws support from A’s, M’s, MLB and baseball fans

OAKLAND – Paul Archey, who heads Major League Baseball’s international business operations, was in Oakland Friday night to get out the word that MLB is doing what it can to provide support to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Major League Baseball donated $500,000 through UNICEF to aid recovery and relief efforts. MLB is encouraging fans in the U.S. to contribute by going to www.unicef.org or by texting “Japan’’ to 864233.

There are 10 Japanese nationals in the big leagues. Two of the best known were on the field here – Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners and Hideki Matsui of the A’s.

“All 30 clubs are doing something,’’ Archey said. “All those players are doing something, too. It’s a collaborative effort, really.

“Baseball has a long history with Japan. We have an office in Tokyo that had to be closed for a week. But it’s open now, and we want to do what we can to help. The thoughts of MLB and of the players are with Japan.’’

The Mariners and the A’s, with obvious strong links across the Pacific, have early season promotions that will help the relief effort. Oakland has Japanese Heritage Day scheduled Sunday and fans are being asked to contribute. Oakland fans have chipped in $50,000 on a voluntary $1 per ticket purchase since the disaster struck.

Matsui (50 million yen) and Ichiro (100 million yen) made huge personal contributions.

NOTES: With his complete game win, Felix Hernandez is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four opening day starts. …The sixth Seattle run came when Mariner catcher Miguel Olivo slid into Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki. The A’s veteran stayed in the game for the moment, but was replaced shortly thereafter, having suffered what was called a mild left ankle sprain. … The Josh Willingham first-inning, two-run bomb was the first home run off Hernandez in his four Opening Day starts. … Ichiro started the season with a walk and an infield single in his first two plate trips. He finished with two hits and a game-tying RBI. Not bad for a guy who hit .259 this spring. In his carer, Ichiro is a .329 hitter against the A’s. … For someone playing his first MLB game at second base, converted shortstop Jack Wilson made a terrific turn on a near-double play in the fourth. Two pitches later, Wilson started a double play to get Hernandez out of the inning. … Between the second and the eighth, the A’s had just one base runner, a leadoff single by David DeJesus in the fourth. … Seattle has won five consecutive opening day games. …

Twitter: @JHickey3


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