Dodgers-D’backs will open 2014 MLB season in Australia

Major League Baseball is heading down under.

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will open the 2014 season at the historic Sydney (Australia) Cricket Ground on March 22-23, the league confirmed on Wednesday.

“The globalization of our game continues to be paramount to Major League Baseball, and Australia is an essential part of our long-term efforts to grow the sport,” said Bud Selig, MLB commissioner, in a statement. “We look forward to writing an exciting new chapter in international baseball history at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground next March.”

“The Dodgers are absolutely ecstatic to be opening the 2014 championship
season in Sydney, one of the greatest cities in the world,” Dodger
President and CEO Stan Kasten said. “Our organization is committed to
growing the game of baseball internationally and I’m eager to kick off
our season in one of the most exciting and rapidly developing baseball
markets on earth.”

Barry O’Farrell, minister for Western Sydney, said, “This is a significant win for Sydney and again delivers on my election
commitment to bring major events to NSW (New South Wales).”

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, in 2001, but the 2014 series marks MLB’s first regular season games in Australia.

“The players are excited about opening the 2014 season in Sydney, and
they view this series as an important step in furthering their
commitment to help increase the global popularity of baseball,” added
MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner. “We thank the Australian
Baseball Federation and fans for welcoming us to their country. We
anticipate the 2014 Opening Series in Sydney will prove to be a
memorable experience for players and fans alike.”

MLB at the Sydney Cricket Ground goes back to 1888, when Spalding’s World Tourists played a series of exhibition games and drew as many as 5,500 fans during a Dec. 15, 1888 contest.  The site is expected to be fully renovated to comply with MLB standards.

Prior to the series, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will square off in spring training on Sunday, March 16 before arriving in Sydney on March 18. The Diamondbacks are slated as the home team in both games.

The game marks a homecoming for Dodger reliever Peter Moylan, who is the fifth Australian-born player to sport a Dodger uniform.