Beginning on November 11th a squad of 29 major leaguers – including 10 All Stars, a pair of batting champions, and a MVP – will head to Japan for the 2014 MLB-Japan All Star Series. The team of MLB players will take on the Japanese national team, commonly known as Samurai Japan, after first facing a team made up of players from the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants.
The Japanese national team will look to defend their position as one of the finest international baseball powers – they finished in a medal position in each of the first three World Baseball Classics, winning gold in 2006 and 2009 – against a mix of baseball All Stars and role players. The two teams will square off in a five game series with games in Osaka, Tokyo, and Sapporo before closing out the tour with a single exhibition game in Naha.
Those who don’t actively follow international baseball likely won’t be familiar with players on the Japan squad, but the MLB team has some star power for even casual fans to enjoy.
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell will head the coaching staff. Initially the team was set to be managed by Ron Washington, but following his resignation from the Texas Rangers he was replaced with Farrell. Red Sox Third base coach Brian Butterfield, and pitching coach Juan Nieves will join Farrell’s staff, along with newly extended Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and Blue Jays Bench coach DeMarlo Hale.
The one area most lacking in big names on the MLB roster, they’ll be headlined by a pair of Japanese born arms in Hisashi Iwakuma and Tsuyoshi Wada. Both will likely be used as starting pitchers and the Japanese fans will be familiar with each. Between them they have seven NPB All Star appearances, a Rookie of the Year Award (Wada), and an Eiiji Sawamura Award (Japan’s version of the Cy Young, won by Iwakuma).
World Series Game 7 starter Jeremy Guthrie will headline the other starters. They will also include Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago of the Angels, Franklin Morales of the Rockies and Chris Capuano of the Yankees.
The remainder of the pitching staff will be filled out by relievers. The lefties will be Jeff Beliveau of the Rays, Randy Choate of the Cardinals, and Jerry Blevins of the Nationals. The righties will be Tommy Hunter of the Orioles, Mark Melancon of the Pirates, Jose Veras of the Astros, and Rob Wooten of the Brewers.
AL batting champion Jose Altuve will likely lead off for the MLB team, followed by NL batting champion Justin Morneau, and Robinson Cano. Yasiel Puig, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, and Salvador Perez are the other all-stars on the roster.
Chris Carter will likely serve as the team’s designated hitter, but he might also have to play some outfield, because Puig and Dexter Fowler are the only full time outfielders on the team. Carlos Santana, Lucas Duda, Alcides Escobar and Eduardo Nunez will round out the infield. Catchers Erik Kratz of the Royals and Drew Butera of the Dodgers will back up Perez behind the plate.
All games will be televised on MLB Network, under the following schedule. All times are eastern, with re-air times in prime time.
- Tuesday, 11/11: Exhibition game vs. Hanshin Tigers/Yomiuri Giants at Koshien 4 a.m. EST/Re-air 9 p.m.
- Wednesday, 11/12: Game #1 at Kyocera Dome, Osaka 4 a.m./Re-air 9 p.m.
- Thursday, 11/13: Travel day
- Friday, 11/14: Game #2 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo 4 a.m./Re-air 9 p.m.
- Saturday, 11/15: Game #3 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo 4 a.m./Re-air 9 p.m.
- Sunday, 11/15: Game #4 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo 4 a.m./Re-air 9 p.m.
- Monday, 11/16: Travel day
- Tuesday, 11/18: Game #5 at Sapporo Dome, Sapporo 5 a.m./Re-air 9 p.m.
- Wednesday, 11/19: Travel day
- Thursday, 11/20: Exhibition game vs. Team Japan, Okinawa 4 a.m./Re-air 9 p.m.