NEW YORK: The Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners will launch the 2019 Major League Baseball season with a two-game series in Tokyo, league chiefs confirmed on Wednesday.
The two-game series on March 20-21 at the Tokyo Dome starts a season which also includes international stops in London and Mexico as baseball aims to broaden its appeal.
The Athletics-Mariners series marks the eighth time the MLB has staged its season-opener overseas, and the fourth time in Japan.
Seattle and Oakland shared a two-game series in Tokyo in 2012, the most recent international season opening held in Japan.
The rest of the league will get into full swing on March 28 with the traditional opening day, the earliest opening day in MLB history.
The start of the gruelling 162-game season has been brought forward in order to give the league’s 30 teams additional off days throughout the year.
Other international forays planned for 2019 include Boston’s two-game series against the New York Yankees on June 29-30.
It is the first time the Red Sox and the Yankees have faced each other outside of New York or Boston, with the games taking place at the London Stadium, venue for the 2012 Summer Olympics and home to Premier League side West Ham.
The Mexican city of Monterrey, meanwhile, will host series between Cincinnati and St Louis on April 13-14 before the Los Angeles Angels face the Houston Astros at the same venue on May 4-5.
Other notable season highlights include the New York Yankees’ visit to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August in an inter-league meeting between the iconic franchises.
It is the first time the Yankees have played at Dodger Stadium since 2013.
The Dodgers have played only eight regular season games against the Yankees at Dodger Stadium since the club moved to California from Brooklyn in 1958.