2014 MLB opener in Australia: Dodgers-Diamondbacks

NEW YORK (AP) - The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will bring 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 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 big brawl at Dodger Stadium. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers already had a testy relationship before this 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 also was an exhibition baseball game at the same site in December 1888 featuring Spalding’s World Tourists.

The Sydney Cricket Ground will be configured to MLB standards for the opening series.

“I’m sure people are going to fly from all over the country to see the game,” Moylan said. “The presentation of the grounds is going to be fantastic.”

Moylan makes the grueling trip home to Melbourne in the offseason, and he expects the travel will take a toll on the players.

“Coming back is going to be the worst,” he said.

Union head Michael Weiner said “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.”

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