Seattle Mariners vs Oakland A’s: 5 Players to Watch in Japan Series

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 18: Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (C) #51 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after his team's 6-5 victory with his team mates in the preseason friendly game between Yomiuri Giants and Seattle Mariners at Tokyo Dome on March 18, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 18: Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (C) #51 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after his team's 6-5 victory with his team mates in the preseason friendly game between Yomiuri Giants and Seattle Mariners at Tokyo Dome on March 18, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /
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We have almost made it guys. In 48 hours, the Seattle Mariners will have a record. But as we prep for the Opening Day series in Japan, here are 5 players you should keep an eye on in this series.

However, before we begin, can we just talk about how bogus it is that 2 West Coast teams are opening their season in Japan with first pitch coming at 2:30 AM PDT? Look, I get the idea. Opening in Japan is cool. I don’t have an issue with it. But really? At 2:30 AM?

Why not open the year in Puerto Rico? Or Montreal? Or, if you want to stick with Japan, for its obvious advantages, how about an 8 PM PT start like the first exhibition game the Mariners played? Seriously, 2:30 AM is the only time to play these games? Middle of the night? Anyways, let’s start our countdown of 5 players to watch in the Opening Series.

5. Mitch Haniger

Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Mitch Haniger has, over the course of one off-season, become the face of the Seattle Mariners. After a breakout season that included his first trip to the All-Star game, Haniger is one of the only players who never really got shopped by the Mariners.

GM Jerry Dipoto spent the entire off-season singing the praises of Haniger, and how he was the type of player they wanted to build their team around. A few teams came calling, but nobody could match the mountainous asking price Dipoto set (rightfully so). So, Haniger is the man going forward.

Since Mallex Smith was unable to make the trip as he works his way back from an elbow injury, Haniger is expected to start in centerfield both nights. We don’t know exactly where he will hit in the order, but it will be from one of the first 3 spots. Haniger himself seems ready for the regular season, as evident from this blast earlier this morning:

This was Haniger’s second HR in Japan, and he will look to add a few more against the Oakland A’s pitching staff in a few days.

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