Dodgers, D-Backs set for opening day Down Under

Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:59am EDT
 
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By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks have done the public relations work, petted the kangaroos and visited the tourist sites but it will be all business when opening day goes Down Under on Saturday.

Mexico, Japan and Puerto Rico have all hosted the first games of the new season in the past 15 years and this weekend it is the turn of Australia, which last witnessed live major league baseball a century ago.

The Sydney Cricket Ground, the storied temple of Australia's favorite sport, has been transformed into a ballpark and sell-out crowds of 40,000 are expected to watch the National League West rivals duke it out in games on Saturday and Sunday.

Duke it out they might literally if their meeting in June last year is anything to go by - a game marred by an ugly bench-clearing brawl that led to suspensions for eight players.

The players and coaches, perhaps aware of their ambassadorial role, have all made the right noises this week about a new season being a clean sheet.

"Everybody knows what happened last year but it's a new year and we're just going to go out and compete," Wade Miley, the D-Backs starting pitcher on Saturday, said on Friday.

"If things get heated, they get heated but nobody's going out there looking for anything like that.

"We're just going to go out and play nine innings twice and (may) the best team win."   Continued...

 
Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon (9) hits an RBI triple during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports