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Mets & Cubs To Play In Japan

Baseball finally made it official Thursday, announcing that the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs will play the first regular-season games outside of North America, opening next season in Tokyo.

The two-game series will be in the Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants, on March 29 and 30.

Both teams are then off until April 4, when the Mets play their home opener against San Diego and the Cubs play in the St. Louis Cardinals' opener.

As part of the trip, the Cubs will play exhibition games on March 27 at the Yomiuri Giants and the Seibu Lions the following day. The Mets will play at the Lions on March 27 and at the Giants the next day.

Assuming financial projections are met, each player on the trip gets about $25,000.

This will mark the third time regular-season games are played outside the United States and Canada.

New York and San Diego played a three-game series at Monterrey, Mexico, in 1997, and the Padres and Colorado Rockies opened the 1999 season with a game at Monterrey.

Baseball's first choice was to have the Mets and Cardinals open in Japan, but St. Louis declined. The Cubs agreed to the trip in mid-August, and details were worked out during the past two months.

The players' association and the commissioner's office still must agree to roster sizes and waiver changes.

Current rules call for teams to cut their active roster to 25 players by the first opener in the major leagues. That means they have until two business days before the first opener to place a player on unconditional release waivers without having to pay his entire salary for the season.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, a division of the company that owns the Tokyo Giants, is sponsoring the trip. Profits are split by the commissioner's office and the players' association.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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