BY SPNW Staff 04:32PM 05/01/2018

Mariners, A’s to open 2019 season in Tokyo

As they did in 2012, the Mariners open the 2019 regular season in Tokyo with two games against the Oakland A’s March 20-21, and play exhibitions against Japanese teams.

Ichiro returned home to Japan with the Mariners’ first visit in 2012. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

The Mariners’ ties to Japan will be reinforced again when they join the Oakland A’s in the Tokyo Dome for two games to open the 2019 regular season, the club announced Tuesday. The Mariners will be the road team, preserving their 81-game home schedule, and will leave spring training March 15 to play two exhibition games March 17-18 against Japanese teams before the A’s games March 20-21.

 “Our organization has a long and special relationship with Japan, including playing the Opening Series in the Tokyo Dome in 2012,” said Mariners CEO Kevin Mather in a statement. “This will be another memorable experience for our players, our organization and Major League Baseball.”

Added Mariners chairman John Stanton:  “The Mariners have been closely tied to Japan since Nintendo saved baseball in the Northwest by purchasing a majority of the team in 1992, and we have had Japanese players on our roster every year since 1996. It is an honor for our team to return.”

The Mariners will play more exhibition games in the U.S. prior to resuming the regular season, but the schedule has not been released. In Japan, the A’s will also play two exhibition games, part of day/night doubleheaders with the Mariners and Japanese teams.

The two-game series is the fifth one MLB has had in Japan. It’s the first since 2012, when the Mariners majority owner was Hiroshi Yamauchi, the founder of video game-maker giant Nintendo, who bought the team in 1992.

Yamauchi was unable to attend games due to his wife’s illness. He died at 85 in September 2013, and majority ownership of the club was passed on to Nintendo of America, based in Redmond.

In April 2016, NOA sold 90 percent of its stake in the team, valued at $1.4 billion, to a 17-member group led by Stanton.

In the 2012 series, the Mariners, led by Ichiro’s four hits in five at-bats, won the opener 4-1. In the second game, he went hitless and the Mariners lost 3-1.

Ramirez, Altavilla on DL; Heredia, Lawrence called up

After some bad outings, starting RHP Erasmo Ramirez and reliever Dan Altavilla were placed on the 10-day disabled list. Called up as replacements from AAA Tacoma were OF Guillermo Heredia and reliever Casey Lawrence ahead of Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. start to a three-game series with the Oakland A’s at Safeco Field.

Ramirez has a strained muscle in his upper back. In his past two starts over 9.2 innings, he has given up 11 runs on 14 hits, including seven homers.

Altavilla has shoulder inflammation. Since April 17, he has give up five earned runs in 5.1 innings with seven strikeouts and six walks in six games.

Felix Hernandez starts Tuesday after the Mariners’ 7-3 road trip finished April with a 16-11 record, most wins in the first month since 2003.



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