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Sydney Cricket Ground could be hitter's paradise

SYDNEY -- Hanley Ramirez was coming off the field following the Dodgers’ first batting practice session at Sydney Cricket Ground when someone asked him how the ball carries.

“Awesome,” he said, with a big smile.

A first look at the field for Opening Day suggests the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks could play some high-scoring games here Saturday and Sunday even though they’re sending four of their best pitchers to the mound.

It’s not just the dimensions, which are fairly standard. With a lot of foul ground, field designers were hesitant to make it too much of a pitcher’s park, so they pinched the outfield corners in to 328 feet down the line, with the power alleys at 370 feet and straight center field at 400.

But you never know how a field will play until they start playing on it. The weather here is warm with a bit of ocean humidity and gentle sea breezes that seemed to waft balls over the fence in batting practice. Even balls not struck squarely were carrying a long way. Temperature at first pitch Sunday afternoon figures to be about 84 degrees.

Dee Gordon came off the field and said, “There are going to be a lot of homers hit here.”

That might be only half the headache for pitchers and defenders. Chone Figgins compared the outfield playing surface to Oakland’s following a Raiders game, after the temporary seats have been removed, killing the grass beneath it.

The part of the field that is used as a cricket pitch here is hard, so line drives in between outfielders figure to scoot past them to the walls. That could lead to yet more extra-base hits. The infield also was hard, which could lead to more hits overall.

“It seems fast,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s carrying today. I don’t know if it’s the wind or not, but it’s good for offense, for sure.”