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Orioles' Tommy Hunter heading to Japan to play in MLB All-Star Series exhibition

Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter pitches in the fifth inning of ALCS Game 1.
Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter pitches in the fifth inning of ALCS Game 1. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter is joining a team of major leaguers that will travel to Japan this month to participate in the Japan All-Star Series throughout the country.

Final rosters are expected to be announced Thursday, but Hunter is the only Orioles player on the team. Center fielder Adam Jones was scheduled to participate, but he had to cancel because of previous commitments.

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The team will play a five-game series against Japan's national team, Samurai Japan. The series will begin Wednesday in Osaka before the teams play three games in Tokyo from Nov. 14-16 and one final time in Sapporo on Nov. 18. Games will be televised live on MLB Network.

Hunter was 3-2 with a 2.97 ERA and 12 holds in 60 relief appearances over 60 2/3 innings this season for the Orioles. He recovered nicely from losing the closer job in May, with a 1.77 ERA (9 ER in 45 2/3 IP) after returning to mostly seventh- and eighth-inning duties.

The major league team already includes several big names, including Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, Rays infielder-outfielder Ben Zobrist and Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau.

Former Orioles pitchers Jeremy Guthrie (Kansas City Royals) and Tsuyoshi Wada (Chicago Cubs) are also among those scheduled to participate in the series. It will be a homecoming for Wada, the Japan native who pitched nine seasons in the Japanese Pacific League before signing with the Orioles. The Boston Red Sox's John Farrell will manage the team.

The All-Star Series began in 1986 and took place every two years, but the last series in Japan was in 2006, when the major league team won all five games.

Before the All-Star Series began, major league clubs would play exhibitions in Japan, and the Orioles were the last to do so, going 8-5-1 against Japanese teams in 1984. The Orioles also traveled to Japan in 1971.

This year's team also will play two exhibition games, one Nov. 11 against the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants and the other Nov. 20 against Team Japan in Okinawa.

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