The Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks confirmed Wednesday that they will begin the 2014 season with a pair of games in Sydney, Australia. The news was first reported last October by the Sydney Morning Herald.
The games will be played Saturday, March 22 and 23, 2014 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Dodgers president Stan Kasten said that his team will play a spring training game in Arizona on Sunday, March 16 and fly from Phoenix to Sydney that night. After a day off Tuesday, the Dodgers will work out Wednesday, then play an exhibition game against an Australian team on Thursday. There may be a second exhibition game Friday — Kasten said “I don’t think we need it” — and leave for Los Angeles at the conclusion of Sunday’s game.
“It’ll be a long trip but we hope well worth it,” Kasten said.
The Dodgers won’t play for four days after returning to Los Angeles. The annual three-game Freeway Series against the Angels is scheduled for Friday, March 28 through Sunday, March 30. Those games won’t count in the standings but the Sydney games will.
The Diamondbacks will be the home team for both games, meaning the Dodgers will not sacrifice any of their 81 regular-season home dates at Dodger Stadium.
“It was a factor,” Kasten said. “We wanted to keep the home games for our fans.”
Major League Baseball spoke with local representatives in Sydney a year ago, and the league wanted a pair of Western-based teams represented, Kasten said. The league then approached the Dodgers and Diamondbacks and both readily agreed. So did the players, who will receive extra compensation for going on the trip.
“It was a pretty easy negotiation,” Kasten said.
The Dodgers have employed five of the 28 Australian-born major league players, including relief pitcher Peter Moylan. Moylan’s contract expires at the end of the season, but he would welcome the chance to come back and play in his native country.
“It would be huge,” he said. “I’d probably have to leave a few tickets. To be able to do what I love in the country where I was born would be a great opportunity. Let’s not look too far in the future, but I hope I stay here.”
Trent Oeltjen (2010-11), Luke Prokopec (2000-01), Jeff Williams (1999-2002) and Craig Shipley (186-87) are the other Australian-born Dodgers.
Tommy Lasorda coached the United States to a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Those games were played at Sydney Baseball Stadium and Blacktown Olympic Park.
The Dodgers have played non-regular season games outside the country eight times before: in 1956 (Japan), 1964 (Mexico), 1966 (Japan), 1993 (Japan/Taiwan), 1991 (Mexico), 2003 (Mexico), 2008 (China) and 2010 (Taiwan).
These will be the first regular-season baseball games ever staged in Australia.