MLB unveils roster for Japan tour

MLB unveils roster for Japan tour

Not all Major Leaguers will have their bats and gloves packed up in November. A star-studded crew, led by Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, will go on a six-game tour of Japan.

Howard, who belted 58 homers and drove in 149 runs this season, highlighted the list of 24 players released by Major League Baseball on Tuesday. Three more players will be announced within the next week, completing the 27-man roster.

Twins ace and American League Cy Young Award favorite Johan Santana will lead the pitching staff. Santana (19-6, 2.77 ERA) will be joined by batterymate and AL batting champion Joe Mauer.

Some other big names on the squad are Mets third baseman David Wright and Braves center fielder Andruw Jones.

The tour will represent a homecoming for Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima, who hails from Sasebo, and White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, the pride of Tokyo.

A's manager Ken Macha will have the honor of managing the squad. His coaches will include Mets third-base coach Manny Acta, Phillies bullpen coach Ramon Hernandez and A's pitching coach Curt Young.

"I think that'll be fun," Macha said before his A's played the Tigers in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. "Just my four years over there playing, there's a lot of people that I haven't seen for a while. It will be good going back there.

"Really, the highlight of my playing career was over there, and going back there will be special for me. It's nice that Major League Baseball chose me to go over there and represent us over there."

After a few days of workouts in Phoenix, the Major League team will charter to Tokyo on Oct. 30. The first game will be against the Yomiuri Giants on Nov. 2, in Tokyo.

The remaining five games will be against an All-Star team put together by Japan. Three of those will be played at the Tokyo Dome (Nov. 3-5), with the venue switching to the Kyocera Dome in Osaka on Nov. 7, and the finale of the trip at the Yahoo Dome in Fukuoka the following day.

The roster is as follows:

The pitchers are Bronson Arroyo (Reds), Erik Bedard (Orioles), Brian Fuentes (Rockies), Ray King (Rockies), John Lackey (Angels), Joe Nathan (Twins), Santana, Scot Shields (Angels), Chris Capuano (Brewers), Mike Myers (Yankees) and Chris Young (Padres).

Mauer leads a catching core that also includes Johjima and Brian Schneider (Nationals).

Howard will anchor first base and be backed up by Toronto's Lyle Overbay. Chase Utley of the Phillies and Iguchi are the second basemen. Mets speedster Jose Reyes (17 triples and 64 stolen bases) will be at shortstop, joined by Rafael Furcal of the Dodgers. Wright will patrol the hot corner, and Chone Figgins, the versatile infielder/outfielder from the Angels, might see time there, as well.

Bill Hall of the Brewers and Jones are the only other outfielders currently on the roster.

This marks the 10th time since 1986 that MLB has taken a traveling All-Star team to Japan.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.