|Dodgers and Padres take spring training to China|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 15 March 2008 16:36|
Baseball sent spring training overseas Saturday with the first major league game in China.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres played to a 3-3 tie in an exhibition game before 12,224 fans at the new Olympic venue in Beijing.
Blue sky replaced gray smog, and a breeze in left field unfurled China's red flag alongside the Stars and Stripes. But most fans knew so little about the rules that nobody booed when play was called after nine innings. Forgive them if they didn't sing along to ``Take Me Out to the Ball Game.''
``It's historic if nothing else,'' commissioner Bud Selig said.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre said all the hoopla made things feel more like a regular-season game.
``It took on a little bit more than an exhibition game for me,'' he said.
Except for the prices of concessions - a 12-ounce beer cost $1.50 - it seemed like an afternoon at any ballpark in America. There was one problem: Vendors and concession stands kept running out of drinks, creating long lines before reinforcements arrived.
``You didn't really capture the fact you were in China unless you knew you were in China,'' said Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, whose wind-blown double in the eighth tied the score. ``The atmosphere was great and the field was in great condition. ... You just felt like you were at a ballpark playing baseball.''
Occasional staccato organ music pumped up fans, and the music between innings ranged from Carmen to Latin rhythms to hip-hop. Fans who arrived early even saw a little glimpse of traditional China: dozens of elderly practicing tai chi near the stadium entrance.
``In general overall the ballpark had a good feel,'' Padres manager Bud Black said. ``The between innings entertainment was not unlike what we have in the States.''
Selig took a long look at what transpired.
``I am very confident that someday after I'm gone and we do as well as I think we are going to do in China, people will say that's where it all started,'' he said.
The teams were to play another exhibition early Sunday. Selig said there would be additional games in China, and he left open the possibility of a regular-season game. This season's opener is in Tokyo on March 25 with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox facing the Oakland Athletics.
``You need a genesis; you need a starting point,'' Selig said. ``And this is a great way to start.''
Daisuke Matsuzaka could start the season opener for Boston in his home country after his wife gave birth Saturday to their second child, their first son. That allows Matsuzaka to travel with his teammates to Japan on Wednesday.
``What game he'll pitch over there we have not established,'' Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell said in Fort Myers, Fla.
Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez won't make the trip because he's still recovering from offseason back surgery.
The Los Angeles Angels will start the season without ace John Lackey, out three to four weeks because of a strained right triceps.
Lackey underwent an MRI in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Friday that confirmed Dr. Lewis Yocum's diagnosis. The right-hander has already started rehabilitation and won't participate in any baseball activities until he is re-evaluated, the team said.
Lackey won 19 games last year and led the AL with a 3.01 ERA.
Scott Kazmir won't start on opening day for Tampa Bay after having his first scheduled spring training start Sunday pushed back a few days.
Kazmir has been slowed by a left elbow strain, which he felt while warming up for an intrasquad game Feb. 26.
``It will definitely knock out the opening-day assignment,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said in Tampa, Fla. ``We just want him to try and build up a little bit more arm strength before we put him back out there. He's fine. There's not a thing wrong with him. During the season he probably would have pitched today.''
James Shields will replace Kazmir against the Tigers on Sunday, and could pitch the regular-season opener.
Kazmir, the AL strikeout champion, went 13-9 with a 3.48 ERA last season.
In other news, the St. Louis Cardinals were awaiting results of an MRI on Juan Gonzalez's strained abdomen, an injury that has slowed his comeback attempt.
In other spring training games:
Cardinals 10, Mets 3
At Port St. Lucie, Fla., Johan Santana gave up four runs - three earned - in five innings and grounded out in his first plate appearance of the spring for New York.
Yankees (ss) 11, Tigers 7
At Lakeland, Fla., Detroit's Curtis Granderson drove in four runs with two homers and a triple, and Justin Verlander allowed seven earned runs in 3 2-3 innings.
Rays (ss) 7, Yankees (ss) 2
At Tampa, Fla., Alex Rodriguez pulled up 15 feet short of home plate and allowed Rays catcher Josh Paul to gently tag him, helping New York and Tampa Bay avoid a repeat of last weekend's skirmish.
Red Sox 16, Reds 6
At Fort Myers, Fla., Boston's Julio Lugo had two hits after sitting out the previous 12 days with a back injury, and Cincinnati's Homer Bailey gave up six runs in 3 1-3 innings.
White Sox 5, Cubs 3
At Tucson, Ariz., Jim Thome hit a two-run homer, his second of the spring.
Blue Jays 4, Pirates 1
At Dunedin, Fla., Roy Halladay pitched five solid innings and Matt Stairs hit a two-run double for Toronto.
Twins 11, Phillies 2
At Clearwater, Fla., Minnesota's Carlos Gomez went 3-for-4 with his first home run this spring, and Ryan Howard homered for Philadelphia.
Angels 5, Diamondbacks 4, 10 innings
At Tempe, Ariz., Randy Johnson worked three innings in his second spring start and allowed only a solo homer to Los Angeles' Gary Matthews Jr.
Indians 14, Astros (ss) 6
At Winter Haven, Fla., Andy Marte homered twice and drove in six runs, helping his bid for a roster spot with Cleveland.
Astros (ss) 15, Braves (ss) 6
At Kissimmee, Fla., Roy Oswalt threw six nearly perfect innings for Houston, allowing his only baserunner on an error and striking out seven.
Rays (ss) 11, Braves (ss) 10
At Kissimmee, Fla., John Smoltz pitched four scoreless innings before allowing five runs in the fifth, including a two-run homer by Carlos Pena.
Giants (ss) 14, Mariners 8
At Scottsdale, Ariz., Barry Zito allowed seven runs and seven hits with four walks for San Francisco. Seattle's Erik Bedard gave up homers by Aaron Rowand, Ray Durham and Randy Winn.
Dodgers (ss) 6, Nationals 1
At Viera, Fla., Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda won for the first time this spring while filling in for Torre, and Brad Penny pitched five shutout innings for Los Angeles.
Athletics (ss) 10, Giants (ss) 2
At Phoenix, Bobby Crosby, Donnie Murphy and Kurt Suzuki drove in two runs apiece during an eight-run first inning.
Marlins 7, Orioles 6
At Jupiter, Fla., Hanley Ramirez hit his third home run this spring and Rick VandenHurk threw three perfect innings before giving up three runs in the fourth for Florida.
Brewers 8, Royals 3
At Phoenix, J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart each hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs for Milwaukee. Gil Meche was chosen as Kansas City's opening-day starter.
Rangers 10, Rockies 5
At Surprise, Ariz., Eric Hurley allowed two runs in four innings and David Murphy hit two homers for Texas.
Athletics (ss) 9, Padres (ss) 3
At Peoria, Ariz., Lenny DiNardo gave up one run in 3 2-3 innings to earn his second win.