Japan to host next MLB season-opener as teams speculation mounts

Japan - The opening games of next year's US Major League Baseball season will be held in Japan on March 19 and 20, the Japanese baseball commissioner said.

Japanese baseball stars Shohei Ohtani (l.) and Yoshinobu Yamamoto play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the teams which may compete in next year's MLB season opener in Japan.
Japanese baseball stars Shohei Ohtani (l.) and Yoshinobu Yamamoto play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the teams which may compete in next year's MLB season opener in Japan.  © Collage: USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect

The exact location and teams are not yet decided, Japanese media said, citing Sadayuki Sakakibara of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization.

Sakakibara last month met MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in South Korea, where Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani and his Los Angeles Dodgers opened the current campaign.

"We spoke about the plan going forward on those dates," Sakakibara said, according to Kyodo News on Wednesday.

Shohei Ohtani is a Dodger after sealing historic $700-million deal
MLB Shohei Ohtani is a Dodger after sealing historic $700-million deal

Officials at Nippon Professional Baseball could not immediately be reached for comment.

Dodgers v. Cubs?

The Dodgers, who also have Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and the Chicago Cubs could be the teams to play the series, Japanese and US media reported.

"It would be great if it works out like that," Sakakibara said.

"But nothing is decided at this moment. I was told (Manfred) wanted teams that would deliver high-quality baseball," he added.

Ohtani is a megastar in Japan, where media report about him nearly every day, including his performances during practice sessions.

The Dodgers played the San Diego Padres in Seoul last month in a season-opening series.

Cover photo: Collage: USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect

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