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MLB season-opening games to be held in Kaohsiung in '15

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Major League Baseball (MLB) will hold its season-opening games in the southern city of Kaohsiung in 2015, a local newspaper reported yesterday.

Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Lee Yung-te (李永得) made the announcement yesterday, following his return from a trip to Australia, according to the Chinese-language Liberty Times.

During his trip to Australia over the last weekend, Lee said he met with MLB representatives to seal the deal. The Oakland Athletics are one of the two teams to go on that trip, the deputy mayor said.

The Kaohsiung City Government told the MLB that it hopes the Baltimore Orioles that feature Taiwan-native left-hander pitcher Wei-Yin Chen (陳偉殷) will be the A's rival team during the games in Taiwan.

However, the MLB has yet to make a final decision, Lee told the newspaper.

The MLB held its opening-season games in Sydney on March 22 and 23, featuring the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

According to Lee, the A's rich experience in playing overseas is the main reason the MLB made the choice, he said.

The Oakland team has played season openers in Asia twice before; in Tokyo in 2008 and 2012.

If everything goes well, the games in 2015 will mark the first time the world's top-notch professional baseball league will play its opening season series in the nation.

Kaohsiung's Cheng-ching Lake Baseball Field (澄清湖棒球場), which can house more than 20,000 fans, will be the venue for the opening games, Lee said.

The MLB has held two exhibition series in Taiwan in the past four years. However, it has never held regular season games in the country.

An All-Star team of major leaguers led by then-New York Yankees stars Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson played five games against a Taiwanese team in November 2011. The All-Star teams swept the series and went home with five wins.

In March 2010, former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre led the Dodgers, whose roster included Manny Ramirez and James Loney, in a two-game series.

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