Torre, team are bound for Beijing in March
Dodgers Manager Joe Torre will be in Beijing on Thursday to announce that his team will face the San Diego Padres in a two-game exhibition series March 15 and 16 that will mark Major League Baseball’s first games in China, a team spokesman said Friday.
Also attending the reception will be Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, a former Padres outfielder.
Because of the Dodgers’ obligation to play at least 10 games at their spring training home in Vero Beach, Fla., and the impracticality of taking every player in camp to China, the trip will split the team for a week.
The part of the team that will go to China is scheduled to leave Florida on March 11. They will play the Padres at Wukesong Stadium in Beijing, which will be used for the Olympic baseball competition in August.
When done with the games, the Dodgers contingent, which will include Torre, will fly to Arizona, where it will be met by the group that stayed in Florida.
The Dodgers will finish spring training in the Cactus League, using the Oakland Athletics’ facility in Phoenix as its base.
The stadium will be available because the A’s will be playing a season-opening series against the Boston Red Sox in Tokyo.
Torre, who is heading into his first spring training with the Dodgers, admitted the schedule isn’t ideal.
“The first year, you’d much rather have everybody together all the time, for my sake,” he said. “But it’s just going to be a week, so I think we’re going to be all right.”
Another issue will be determining which players go to China. Some of the team’s veterans already have said privately that they’d prefer not to make the trip.
“We’re going to send a representative group,” Torre said. “I think the group over in China will be pleased and Major League Baseball will be pleased with the group we send over. We certainly need to leave players back in Vero too, because we represent the Dodgers in Vero.”
At least one player is eager to make the trip to China.
“I’d go,” outfielder Matt Kemp said. “That’s a great opportunity to go to another country that I’ve never been to, do a little sightseeing and play some ball. That’s pretty interesting.”
City and county officials in Florida have expressed displeasure about the Dodgers’ visit to China, pointing out that the Dodgers won’t play an entire spring schedule in what probably will be their final camp in Vero Beach.
The Dodgers are expected to move their spring training home to Glendale, Ariz., in 2009. Their final game in Vero Beach this spring, and perhaps ever, will be a split-squad game against Houston on March 17.
Outfielder Jason Repko and the Dodgers avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $487,500 contract. Repko could earn a $12,500 bonus for making 100 plate appearances. His 150th, 250th and 350th plate appearances would each earn him $25,000.
Repko missed all of last season because of a torn hamstring.
Relievers Joe Beimel and Scott Proctor are the only Dodgers still eligible for arbitration.