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"Awaodori," a Japanese traditional dance, is performed in spectators seats during an opening ceremony before the Major League Baseball regular season opener between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, March 25, 2008. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
TOKYO -- The long journey to Tokyo earned rave reviews overall from the A's.

They were treated with the utmost courtesy. A few of them rubbed elbows with political dignitaries at the American Embassy.

And the baseball wasn't that bad either, as they beat the Boston Red Sox 5-1 at the Tokyo Dome on Wednesday to split two games with the defending World Series champions. Only time will tell if any lingering effects are felt from their whirlwind itinerary. They were in Tokyo for six days, just enough time for them to adjust to the 16-hour time difference before they jumped right back on a plane and headed for the Bay Area.

Major League Baseball is trying to broaden its appeal by planning such contests overseas, but it doesn't necessarily do the body any favors.

The A's have five days to rest up and get readjusted to West Coast time before resuming the regular season Tuesday in Oakland against the Red Sox. In the meantime, they'll play three exhibitions against the Giants starting Friday night at AT&T Park. A's second baseman Mark Ellis downplayed the possible fatigue factor involved in the team's travels.

"I've heard both. I've heard it's harder going (to Japan), and that it's harder coming back," Ellis said before Wednesday's game. "It'll be fine. We have four or five days before we play Boston. We'll be all right. I got less sleep than I thought I was going to, but I feel pretty good."

At least the A's get the benefit of coming off the Tokyo trip and starting a homestand when regular-season play resumes.


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The Red Sox flew directly from Tokyo to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers this weekend for three exhibitions.

From there they move on to Oakland for two games, then fly to Toronto for a three-game series before finally returning to Boston.

All told, the Red Sox are in the middle of a 16,000-mile road trip that covers three countries.

One Boston player who had been through the Japan experience before is shortstop Julio Lugo. He was on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when they played the New York Yankees in Tokyo in 2004, and he said the adjustment after he returned from Tokyo was far more difficult than going there.

"It took me a month-and-a-half to get readjusted," Lugo said. "I felt it when I was playing. I played good during that period of time, but I felt it a lot. I couldn't fall asleep, and my appetite wasn't good. You adjust for a week (in Japan) and then you've got to turn around."

As for the A's, manager Bob Geren said he'll dole out playing time this weekend against the Giants based partly on how guys feel coming off the long flight home.

The flight to Tokyo affected some A's players more than others. Left-hander Dana Eveland said he was out of gas by the third inning of his exhibition start against the Yomiuri Giants, which came less than 48 hours after the A's landed.

Outfielder Emil Brown said his sleeping pattern was thrown off in Tokyo, but he wasn't sure what to expect once the team arrived in the Bay Area.

"I haven't thought about it, but hopefully I won't keep waking up at 7 o'clock," Brown said.

At least he took some good vibes with him on board the team charter after he was named the Most Valuable Player of Wednesday's victory, which finished up at about 6 a.m. West Coast time. Starting pitcher Rich Harden claimed the victory in his first start since July 7, striking out nine in six innings and allowing just three hits.

Contact Joe Stiglich at jstiglic@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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A'S 5, RED SOX 1

  • NEXT GAME: Friday, Bay Bridge Series, at Giants, 7:15 p.m.