MLB Opener in Japan: Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs New York Yankees
March 30
Before a sellout crowd the 2 teams faced eachother on Mar 30. The game was ceremoniously opened by Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who pitched to Hideki Matsui and Tino Martinez respectively. Hideki Matsui, 2nd in the line-up,doubled in the 1st inning. Jason Giambi contined with a homer, giving the Yankees a good start. Newly acquired Alex Rodriguez had his first base hit with the Yankees in the 6th inning. But it was after that Mike Mussina was in trouble. Devil Rays' Jose Cruz Jr homered and Julio Lugo batted in a run. In the 7th inning, Tino Martinez slammed his 300th career homerun. Danys Baez smoothly closed the game to give the Devil Rays a 8 to 3 victory.
March 31
The Devil Rays were the first to bat in a run. It was by Aubrey Huff in the first inning. In the 2nd inning, Hideki Matsui was able to help his team catch up with an RBI. Then after that, Tony Clark slammed a 2 run homer. Thereafter, the Yankees blasted. In the 5th inning, Matsui homered to the delight of fans. Jorge Posada had a 3-run, twice. The Yankees this time beat the Devil Rays 12 to 1.

MLB Preseason matches in Japan
*Hanshin Tigers vs Tampa Bay Devil Rays
It was play ball at just past noon on Mar 28. The Tigers starter was Hideki Irabu who joined the Yankees in 1997. He gave up home runs to Rocco Baldelli and to Jose Cruz Jr during the 6 innings he pitched. But it was actually the Tigers which batted better until the 7th inning. The Devil Rays batted in 3 runs in the 8th, and in the 9th, equalized with Julio Lugo' 2 run homer. The game was ended in the 9th inning 7 to 7.
*Tokyo Giants vs New York Yankees
It was a royal homecoming for Hideki Matsui. When he was at bat, the Tokyo Dome literally roared. And cameras were flashing here and there. As if to respond to the cheer, Matsui, slammed a home run off his former teammate Hisanori Takahashi. The voltage of the roar rose. Jorge Posada hit a 3 run homer. Derek Jeter soloed. The Yankees overwhelmed the Giants 6 to 2.
*Hanshin Tigers vs New York Yankees
The game was held at just past noon on Mar 29 at the Tokyo Dome. In the 2nd inning, the Tigers batted in a whooping 7 runs. But the Yankees tried to fight back. In the 4th inning, John Flaherty had a 2 run homer while Derek Jeter batted in a run. In the 5th inning Tony Clark clobbered the ball into Tokyo Dome's scoreboard, breaking it. The Tigers, however, batted in more runs. Akihiro Yano ran all the way to home. George Arias slammed a 3 run homer. For the first time in Japanese baseball history, a Japanese team defeated the Yankees.
*Tokyo Giants vs Tamba Bay Devil Rays
Jose Cruz Jr homered again. He also sacrificed to get the team a run. Pinch hitter Robert Fick homered a 2 run. The game ended 7 to 1 for the Devil Rays.

Spring Camp kicks off Feb 1
The Fighters, in Okinawa started camp with 15 times more crowd than last year, or with 1500 fans. It's all due to the fact that Tsuyoshi Shinjo joined the team. The Marines, led by Bobby Valentine is an attention getter in Kagoshima. Valentine, is no doubt the star, but so is the South Korean slugger Lee. The Buffaloes slugger Norihiro Nakamura had his hair dyed all blond, making people wonder why. Last year's champion, the Hawks, meanwhile started camp in Miyazaki. As to the Central Leagu teams, the Giants began its camp in Guam. The attention is on slugger Hiroki Kokubo who joined from the Hawks. The Dragons is in Chatan, Okinawa led by former triple crown king, Hiromichi Ochiai.

Takatsu signs with White Sox
Shingo Takatsu, former the relief pitcher for the Swallows has been reported on Jan 22 to have signed a one year deal with the Chicago White Sox for 107 million yen.

Little Matsui introduced to fans
Kazuo Matsui participated in an event involving his teammates of the NY Mets for the first on Jan 20 in New York's Central Station. The following day, he gave around 600 people his autograph at a sports shop.

MLB opener is on
MLB held a press conference in Tokyo on Jan 20 that the NY Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays will face eachother on Mar 30 and 31 at the Tokyo Dome for the season opener. Although the dome will be considered the Devil Rays home ground, the Yankees will wear their pinstripped uniforms. It's a special service to Japanese fans who're looking forward to see Hideki Matsui play in that uniform. Also, on Feb 2, it was announced Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and former New York Mayor Rudolf Guiliani will open the first official game.
Michiyo's Note: Sorry,I took a shot of Matsui wearing a frown. He was actually quite pleasant as he always is during the press conference.