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Early MLB roster set for All-Star Tour in Japan

Mattingly, first 8 players named for series of exhibition games in November
MLB.com

The first wave of players who will represent Major League Baseball in the 2018 All-Star Tour with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in November were announced Monday by MLB and the MLB Players' Association.

The MLB team, led by Marlins manager Don Mattingly, will feature three 2018 All-Stars -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez and Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich -- as well as Braves National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate Ronald Acuna Jr., Phillies teammates Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana, Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield and Dodgers infielder/outfielder Chris Taylor. The rest of the roster will be announced in the coming weeks.

The first wave of players who will represent Major League Baseball in the 2018 All-Star Tour with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in November were announced Monday by MLB and the MLB Players' Association.

The MLB team, led by Marlins manager Don Mattingly, will feature three 2018 All-Stars -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez and Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich -- as well as Braves National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate Ronald Acuna Jr., Phillies teammates Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana, Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield and Dodgers infielder/outfielder Chris Taylor. The rest of the roster will be announced in the coming weeks.

Santana competed for the MLB team during the last tour in 2014, and while this will be Molina's first appearance, the Puerto Rican catcher is no stranger to international play as a veteran of four World Baseball Classics.

Video: Fans go wild for 2014 All-Star Series in Japan

This year's All-Star Tour will mark the 37th time Major Leaguers have toured Japan for exhibition games, a tradition that dates back to 1908. The seven-game tour opens Nov. 8 with an exhibition against the Yomiuri Giants at the Toyko Dome, followed by three more games in Tokyo from Nov. 9-11, one game at the Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium in Hiroshima on Nov. 13 and two games at the Nagoya Dome in Nagoyoa on Nov. 14-15. Beginning on Nov. 9, the games will be broadcast live on MLB Network.

Video: Mattingly on managing for Japan All-Star Tour

The tour will feature some of the world's top baseball talent. The 2014 edition brought an All-Star cast -- including Jose Altuve, Robinson Cano, Evan Longoria, Yasiel Puig and Salvador Perez -- to Japan to take on a Japanese squad that offered baseball fans an early glimpse at two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani and Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda.

Video: Behind the Scenes during the Japan Series

MLB will return to Japan next spring with a two-game Opening Series between the A's and Mariners at the Tokyo Dome, marking the fifth time MLB has opened a season in Tokyo and first since 2012, when the A's and Mariners also played. Both clubs will also compete against NPB teams in exhibitions on March 17 and 18.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Rhys Hoskins, Ronald Acuna Jr., Whit Merrifield, Yadier Molina, Carlos Santana, Eugenio Suarez, Chris Taylor, Christian Yelich