Konnichiwa, Red Sox

It’s official. The Sox will be loading up the plane and heading to Japan where the boys hope to meet Antonio Inoki and… wait, that’s the Bad News Bears Go To Japan. Sorry.

Anyway, the Sox will indeed open the 2008 season against Oakland with two games in the Tokyo Dome, March 25-26. And you thought staying up for playoff games was tough. The Sox players, if Curt Schilling is any indication, are not overly thrilled by the prospect of traveling overseas to open the season, then take a week off, and proceed to go about the business of defending their title.

Then there is the matter of Daisuke Matsuzaka. He and his wife are expecting a child around the time of the trip, which might make things a tad awkward if the Red Sox No. 1 Japanese attraction is not able to make it home.

In other Sox news: Had an odd occasion to talk to Theo Epstein last night at an event, and Theo tells Boston Daily that the team is still optimistic about signing Mike Lowell. Several teams are expected to trump the Red Sox reported 3-year deal with a 4-year offer, which the Red Sox are not likely to do.

Couldn’t let it go without bringing up The Evil One, again. It seems the Yankees would be willing to talk to Alex Rodriguez about returning to pinstripes, if, and this is a mighty big if, Scott Boras is nowhere to be found, which is a pretty audacious bargaining position. No question A-Rod has lost the PR war, but it makes no sense for him to agree to a cut-rate deal without his enabler.