Yankees, Devil Rays open season in Japan

March 30, 2004 at 12:28 AM
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TOKYO, March 29 (UPI) -- The Major League Baseball season, which will take up more than half a year to complete, will open half a world away Tuesday.

After playing a series of exhibition games against Japanese teams, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays will play the first two contests of the regular campaign at the Tokyo Dome.

New York will send Mike Mussina to the mound against Tampa Bay's Victor Zambrano in Tuesday's opener. Mussina won 17 games last season and Zambrano has won 26 in his career.

The American League East Division rivals meet again Wednesday. New York will throw Kevin Brown, who is looking for career win No. 198, against Jeremi Gonzalez, who won six times in 2003.

"The games start for real and it is important that we come out and play well, try to win both games," said Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, who has been treated as a conquering hero in the return to his native land.

The major league season begin in earnest next week. The Yankees and Blue Jays will fly back to the United States and play exhibition games Saturday.

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