The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will take their thunder Down Under.
Major League Baseball will open the 2014 regular season in Australia, with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks playing a two-game series at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The matchups March 22-23 will mark baseball’s first games in Australia that count.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” Aussie-born Dodgers reliever Peter Moylan said Wednesday. “I’ve been trying to preach the game back in Australia for years.”
MLB and the players’ union announced the international opening day just one day after Los Angeles and Arizona mixed it up in a brawl at Dodger Stadium. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers already had a testy relationship before the scrape that resulted in six ejections.
“I always wanted to go to Australia,” Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp said. “Now I got a real reason to go and I get to play baseball.”
Baseball opened its season at Tokyo in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. The 1999 opener was held at Monterrey, Mexico, and the 2001 season began in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The rest of the big league season next year is slated to resume on March 30.
The Dodgers-Diamondbacks opener will come 100 years after the Chicago White Sox and New York Giants played exhibition games at the same cricket venue. On Jan. 2, 1914, the White Sox beat the Giants, 5-4, before an estimated 10,000 fans.
There have been 28 major leaguers born in Australia, including Oakland closer Grant Balfour. The Dodgers have had five native Australians on their roster.
DYKSTRA TO PUT JAIL BEHIND HIM
Lenny Dykstra, a troubled ex-Phillies star, is expected to be released from a California prison Sunday, 15 months into his three-year term, according to sources.
Dykstra, 50, pleaded no contest in October 2011 to three grand theft auto charges and one count of filing a false financial report, the latest in a series of downfalls in a tragic slide.
After attending a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, he was sentenced to three years in prison on March 5, 2012.
Giants pitcher George Kontos has been suspended for three games by MLB, which said he intentionally threw a pitch at Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen on Wednesday, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy has been banned for one. … The Rockies signed pitcher Jonathan Gray, selected third overall in the draft last week, with a $4.8 million bonus. … The White Sox agreed to a deal with first-round draft pick Tim Anderson (17th overall) with a $2.164 million bonus. … Wednesday night’s game between the White Sox and Blue Jays was postponed because of a forecast of severe weather conditions. … Eric Young Jr. has been designated for assignment by the Rockies. … The Padres put center fielder Cameron Maybin (knee injury) on the 15-day disabled list.