Matt Harrison is in The Best Shape Of His Life

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We’re still three months from spring training, but after missing nearly all of this year following multiple back surgeries Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison is getting a head start on the annual Best Shape Of His Life rush:

Via Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas:

Harrison said he’s down to 240 pounds, a weight that he’d like to stay at for spring training. Thanks mainly to medication, Harrison said he ballooned up to 270 pounds at one point. He said his playing weight is normally around 250, but doesn’t want to pitch at that weight anymore.  “It would help with everything to take a little stress off the back and make it easier to run,” Harrison said.

6-foot-4 and 240 pounds is still a big boy, but hopefully this helps Harrison stay healthy and resume being one of the league’s best lefties in 2014.

Athletics and Mariners to begin the 2019 regular season in Tokyo

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners will begin the 2019 regular season in Japan, in the Tokyo Dome.

The series will mark the third time that the A’s will begin their season in Japan, first doing it in 2008 against the Red Sox and then again in 2012 against the Mariners.

This is just the latest of Major League Baseball’s moves to expand the the game internationally. In addition to those previous series in Japan, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened their season in Australia in 2014 and the Dodgers and Padres will play a series in Mexico City this May. There has likewise been talk of the Mets playing a series in London, though those details have not yet been worked out. Obviously the World Baseball Classic represents the league’s effort to broaden the global scope of the once national pastime.

Get ready for early morning baseball, folks.