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Big League Stew

Photo: Ken Griffey Jr. is a big hit in Japan

Big League Stew

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Ken Griffey Jr. conducts a hitting clinic in Japan. (AP)

It's creeping closer. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics will kick off the regular season with a two-game series in Tokyo from March 28-29 and, to drum up interest, both teams have sent some ambassadors — managers Bob Melvin and Eric Wedge as well as Ken Griffey Jr. —  to Japan this week.

The youngsters in the photo above look pretty interested as The Kid conducts a clinic, but it's hard not to think that the eventual games won't shake out as a bit of a disappointment. The series was originally scheduled as a way to possibly pit Hideki Matsui against Ichiro on Japanese soil. But that, of course, is no longer going to happen with Matsui now a free agent and Melvin reiterating to the Japanese press that the DH probably doesn't fit into the plans for the cost-cutting A's.

Then again, the two games could be re-energized on both sides of the Pacific Ocean if the M's somehow emerge as the winners in the Prince Fielder derby. The big slugger debuting in a new uniform in a country where he used to live with his ballplaying father?

Yeah, that would make for an interesting spotlight.

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