Yoenis Cespedes, a Cuban defector whose baseball journey has taken him to the Dominican Republic and then on to California, hit his first major-league homer Thursday in Japan.
Cespedes clouted a line drive to left centre in the seventh inning to spark the Oakland Athletics to a 4-1 win at the Tokyo Dome to split a two-game season-opening series with the Seattle Mariners.
"That was a big, big hit and I'm so happy to hit a home run," Cespedes, a highly touted outfielder, said.
"It was like a dream come true. I dedicate that homer to everyone in Japan."
Cespedes had to establish residency in the Dominican during the off-season before MLB teams could bid on the free agent. The 26-year-old signed a four-year, $36-million deal in February with Oakland.
A's pitcher Bartolo Colon allowed just three hits in eight innings for the win.
Josh Reddick and Jonny Gomes also homered for Oakland, which rebounded from a 3-1 loss in 11 innings in Wednesday's opener.
TOKYO AN ENGAGING TOWN
Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan batted just .143 on the diamond in Tokyo ... but he hit a home run with another diamond.
The 30-year-old proposed to his girlfriend on the Sky Deck on the 90th floor of Mori Tower, one of Tokyo's tallest buildings, during Seattle's two-game trip to Japan.
Ryan bought an engagement ring months earlier as part of his plan.
"I had this planned for quite a while," Ryan told MLB.com. "Once I heard we were going to Japan, I figured it was a pretty cool opportunity."
A fake tour guide brought the couple to the tower, where Ryan waited for the right time top pop the question.
"We got up there at sunset so it was starting to get dark and you could see the lights of the city and the Tokyo Tower was lit up," he said. "It was perfect."
RELIEVER HAS DECEPTIVE STUFF
The Cleveland Indians have identified a new candidate for a spot in the bullpen. At least, they're pretty sure they know his name.
The Indians have taken on another pitcher who once played under a false identity, acquiring reliever Jairo Asencio from the Atlanta Braves on Thursday for cash.
Asencio, 28, is the pitcher formerly known as Luis Valdez. He sat out the 2010 season when he was placed on the restricted list for playing under a false name.
The Indians are well-versed in such deception: In January, they discovered that one of their pitchers, Fausto Carmona, was actually Roberto Hernandez and three years older -- 31, not 28. He is on the restricted list and trying to obtain an work visa in the Dominican.
Asencio had 26 saves last season at triple-A Gwinnett.
THOMSON'S CAP UP FOR AUCTION
The cap Bobby Thomson wore for his "Shot Heard 'Round the World" is to be auctioned off.
Bids will be accepted from April 30 until May 19, SCP Auctions said.
Thomson's three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth put the New York Giants into the 1951 World Series. It was the deciding blow in a three-game playoff series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
A fan, Bernard Davies, plucked the cap from Thomson's head during the on-field celebration at the Polo Grounds.
Davies' grandson, Jeff Eskin, is selling it.
PAVANO EXTORTION VICTIM?
The Minnesota Twins' Carl Pavano was the victim of an alleged extortion attempt by a former male classmate, who claimed to have had an "emotional and physical relationship" with the pitcher in high school.
Pavano's sister, Michelle DeGennaro, accused Christian Bedard, 36, of trying "to extort monetary funds for his fabricated, false information," according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Record-Journal of Connecticut.
DeGennaro filed a complaint with police after getting a series of Facebook messages from Bedard.
"The only way your brother is getting out of this ... is with a heartfelt apology and a navy Range Rover with tan leather," Bedard said in one message to DeGennaro, the affidavit said.
"I'm sure they don't want any of this getting out there," Bedard said.
Pavano's sister said claims of the relationship between the two men was "clearly false."
Police are investigating. Bedard hasn't been charged and claims innocence.
The St. Louis Cardinals have added pitcher Scott Linebrink to the team's 40-man roster. Linebrink had a 0.93 earned-run average in nine appearances this spring ... Mariners outfielder Mike Carp was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a sprained right shoulder. He was hurt diving for a ball in the season opener against Oakland in Japan. The Mariners recalled outfielder Carlos Peguero ... Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Charlie Morton will begin the season on the disabled list, as he recovers from off-season hip surgery ... The Baltimore Orioles claimed infielder Zelous Wheeler off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. Wheeler hit .272 with nine homers and 38 RBI at double- and triple-A last season ... Right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who has been primarily a reliever in the past, has won the No. 3 spot in the Chicago Cubs rotation ... A decision will be made Friday as to whether Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly opens the season on the roster or the disabled list. He hasn't pitched since March 21 because of a sore neck.