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Red Sox undecided if they'll face Oakland in Tokyo next year

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The World Series champion Boston Red Sox
still aren't sure whether they will start next season with a
two-game series in Tokyo against the Oakland Athletics.

Baseball officials said they hope for a decision by the owners'
meetings next week, if not sooner.

With Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima, the Red Sox would be
an attractive draw in Japan. Major League Baseball and the players'
union have worked since late July on trying to put together a trip
involving the Red Sox and A's.

"We don't know if we're going or not," Boston general manager
Theo Epstein said Wednesday. "Player approval will be a factor,
and club approval. They're going to be sensitive to the desires of
our players, as we will be."

Red Sox management also would have to approve the trip.

"It's my understanding that that's pending, as well," Epstein
said.

The Chicago Cubs and New York Mets started the 2000 season with
a two-game series in Tokyo, and the New York Yankees and
Tampa Bay Devil Rays opened the 2004 season with two games in Japan. A 2003
series between Seattle and Oakland at the Tokyo Dome was scrapped
because of the threat of war in Iraq.

"I think we're very close," said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief
operating officer. "Discussions are fluid."

DuPuy said the remaining issues were "logistics and
commitment."