TOKYO -- The Mariners might have thought they'd go unrecognized in Tokyo, but that quickly proved false as autograph seekers surrounded numerous players as they headed out of their hotel to see the sights on Saturday morning.
Outfielder Casper Wells found himself signing for a large group on a street corner about a block from the New Otani hotel, with some of the fans presenting baseball cards of each player.
"That's cool that they know you," Wells said. "It was definitely unexpected, being someplace like this. I don't even know if I have that many autograph seekers from Schenectady (N.Y.), where I'm from."
Pitcher Blake Beavan and third baseman Kyle Seager were among those mobbed as they came out of the hotel entrance. And Felix Hernandez was still marveling at the huge flock of cameras and media people stationed at the Narita Airport when the Mariners got off their plane on Friday.
"I was impressed, for real," Hernandez said. "That was a lot of people. A lot different than in the U.S."
Mariners tee off in Tokyo Dome batting practice
TOKYO -- The A's and Mariners normally play in pitching-friendly parks in Oakland and Seattle, but hitters from both teams could enjoy a bit of a slugfest when they square off in the Tokyo Dome for the Opening Series on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Mariners were teeing off in batting practice Saturday in their first workout in the dome, where the ball carries well and the fences aren't particularly deep.
Mike Carp and Justin Smoak both banged several shots off the concrete wall above the last row of seats in right field. Jesus Montero hit a camera parked out in center field.
The longest shot of the day went to big Carlos Peguero, who launched a moon shot off Blake Beavan in a brief simulated game after batting practice. Peguero's blast smacked the middle of the face of Japanese baseball legend Shigeo Nagashima on a billboard high above the right-field stands.
"I wasn't expecting that in BP," Carp said after putting on a show in his final few rounds. "I just felt good and loose today. It's awful nice here. It's going to be fun. These could be an interesting four games for us. It was good to shake off that jet lag and let it fly a little bit today."
The Tokyo Dome has a roof similar to the old Metrodome in Minnesota and a look similar to Tropicana Field in Tampa. For current Mariners players who never enjoyed the hitting comfort of the Kingdome, it was a nice boost of confidence.
"This is a good place to hit and I think guys were pretty excited to be here and everything, so guys were swinging a little harder just to see what they could do," said third baseman Kyle Seager, who knocked a few shots of his own off the metal outfield seats. "You don't want to get away from your approach, but it was definitely fun. It's a change of scenery and you always want to see what you can do in a new place."
Broadcast plans for Japan games
TOKYO -- The Mariners play an exhibition game against the Hanshin Tigers on Sunday afternoon at 12:06 p.m. local time in the Tokyo Dome, which is actually Saturday night (8:06 p.m.) in Seattle. The game will be broadcast live on 710 ESPN Seattle radio, but there is no television coverage.
The A's will play the Yomiuri Giants in an exhibition later Sunday at 7:06 p.m. in Tokyo. The two Japanese teams will then flip-flop on Monday, with the A's facing Hanshin at 12:06 p.m. Tokyo time and the Mariners facing Yomiuri at 7:06 p.m. (3:06 a.m. in Seattle).
The second exhibition will not be broadcast in Seattle.
The two regular season games on Wednesday (3:04 a.m. PT) and Thursday (2:04 a.m. PT) will both be televised live on MLB.TV as well as ROOT Sports and then rebroadcast again at 7:30 p.m. PT.
The two games with the A's will also be broadcast live on 710 ESPN Seattle radio, then replayed in their entirety immediately after the games finish.
• Jason Vargas and Blake Beavan both threw several innings in a simulated game at the Tokyo Dome on Saturday, after the normal batting practice and workout were finished. Vargas needed to get in some work before his start on Thursday in the second regular-season game against the A's. He otherwise would go 10 days between starts.
Beavan is on the trip as an emergency backup should something happen to either Vargas or Opening Day starter Felix Hernandez. He got in some live work as well. Both pitchers threw to teammates John Jaso, Alex Liddi, Casper Wells and Carlos Peguero.
• James Paxton and Danny Hultzen each threw four innings in a Minor League intrasquad game on Friday in Peoria. Paxton didn't give up any runs while recording six strikeouts with one walk. Hultzen gave up four hits and two runs, with no walks and seven strikeouts.
• Kevin Millwood, who stayed behind in Peoria because he wasn't going to pitch during the Japan trip, threw a bullpen session Friday. The veteran, who has earned a starting berth, will throw in a Minor League game early next week.