The newly formed Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles will host the Seibu Lions in a night game in their home opener April 1, the Pacific League said Wednesday.
Rakuten will face Seibu at Fullcast Stadium Miyagi after the season kicks off with three day games March 26 — one week before the Central League gets under way.
The Lotte Marines take on the Eagles, the Lions face the Orix Buffaloes and the Softbank Hawks meet the Nippon Ham Fighters in the season-opening series.
Meanwhile, Lotte and Softbank will meet in the first regular-season games held in Pusan, South Korea, on June 28 and in Incheon on June 29. Each team will play 136 games, including 36 interleague games.
Elsewhere, The Hanshin Tigers and their ace pitcher Kei Igawa failed to find middle ground after their third round of talks over a new contract Wednesday, and the southpaw now has no choice but to take part in spring training as a nonroster invitee.
Igawa’s agent tried once again to convince the Central League team to put the 25-year-old up for auction through the posting system, but club officials would not budge, saying they will allow Igawa to go to the majors only after he becomes a free agent.
Igawa does not earn the right to free agency until 2009 at the earliest.
In Nagoya, Chunichi Dragons outfielder Kosuke Fukudome held off after the fifth round of talks Wednesday but is close to re-signing with the Central League club, despite an offer for an unchanged salary of 200 million yen.
Fukudome is expected to ink a new contract Monday.
In Kobe, Former major-leaguer Masato Yoshii, who was released by the Orix BlueWave last fall, has been invited to the Orix Buffaloes’ spring training camp as a nonroster player, officials of the Pacific League club said Wednesday.
The 39-year-old right-hander will take part in the camp which will begin next Tuesday in Okinawa.
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