The games would be played during the second week of March, two
baseball officials familiar with the planning said Wednesday,
speaking on condition of anonymity because the trip was still in
the planning stages.
"It does put a little inconvenience into spring training, but
the experience far outweighs that. I think it's a valuable
experience and could be good for baseball," Dodgers player
representative Mark Hendrickson said.
Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, has pushed for
the games, which would be played at the ballpark built for next
year's Olympics in Beijing.
"I asked our players' union, and we're one of four or five
teams they're considering. Nothing's been finalized," Mariners
player rep Willie Bloomquist said. "If it happens, great, a new
experience. If not, nothing lost. The biggest issue is the travel
there and back, with all the traveling we already do."
Major League Baseball has twice opened the regular season in
Tokyo, with the New York Mets meeting the Chicago Cubs in 2000 and
the New York Yankees playing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2004. The
Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics may open next season at the
Hendrickson was with the Devil Rays on the 2004 Tokyo trip.
"Japan was exciting to go over there for the five days," he
said. "It's fun to go over to a different culture. A lot of
players don't necessarily get to the opportunity to go to a
different culture, especially that far away. If you ask guys, 'How
many times are you going to get to go to China?' they'd probably
say, first choice, that's not where I'm going to vacation. If you
get the opportunity to go over there and play baseball, what better
way to do it?"
The Yankees were among the team initially interested played in
China but decided they would rather wait for regular-season games
to be played there.
"I think it's doable," Padres manager Bud Black said.
"Obviously, we wouldn't take the entire squad. I think that it's a