Spring Training Notes Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Dodgers extended a warm Camelback welcome marking the first Dodger home game of the Cactus League season and the first ever at The Ballpark at Camelback Ranch – Glendale. The game marked the first of four contests between Los Angeles and their co-tenants the Chicago White Sox.

  The Dodgers are the home team today and will also be the home team on Thursday, March 5. It is the first of 17 games for the Dodgers in their inaugural season and also begins a stretch of playing five of their next seven games at home through Sunday, March 8. 

OPENING GAME HISTORY: The game marked the Dodgers' first game in a new spring facility since March 11, 1953, when the Brooklyn Dodgers played their first game at Holman Stadium in Vero Beach, FL. After filming the pregame ceremonies with his home movie camera, right-hander Carl Erskine defeated the Philadelphia Athletics, 4-2. This morning, the 82-year-old Erskine taught Sunday school at the First Baptist Church in his hometown of Anderson, IN.

  CUTTING THE RIBBON: Opening Day ceremonies pulled out all the stops. Glendale native and American Idol champ Jordin Sparks sang the National Anthem, accompanied with spectacular fireworks, with a flyover featuring four F-16s from nearby Luke Air Force Base accompanying the performance, and a Color Guard formation from Luke AFB to cap off the celebration. 

Come Back Buddy, a local band that covers hits from the 1950s and 60s, performed in the bandstand area located directly in front of the two-acre lake near the center field rotunda entrance. In addition, theer was a performance by a Native American hoop dancer and a flock ceremonial first pitches thrown by Mayors Elaine Scruggs (Glendale) and Phil Gordon (Phoenix), Dodger Manager Joe Torre, and White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen, all at the same time and with varying degrees of accuracy.  

BIRTH OF A STADIUM: The Ballpark at Camelback Ranch - Glendale has seating for 13,000, including 3,000 lawn seats (supposedly the wind blows out to left), 12 luxury suites, a party deck, a unique center field rotunda entrance, and to top it off, a two-acre lake stocked for fishing which essentially divides the complex between the Dodgers and White Sox. The park is the largest in the Cactus League and is less than a six-hour drive from Dodger Stadium.   

KONICHIWA: Dodger right-hander Hiroki Kuroda made his 2009 Spring Training against the White Sox. When we last saw the Japanese hurler, he was playing the role of ace in the 2008 playoffs, going 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA 2 ER/12.1 IP) in two clutch starts. Kuroda was the winning pitcher in the Game 3 of the NLDS against the Cubs, when the Dodgers clinched their first playoff-series victory in 20 years.

Kuroda also beat the eventual World Champion Phillies in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium. Last season was Kuroda's first in the Major Leagues after spending the previous 11 seasons pitching for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in the Japanese Central league. The 34-year-old finished 2008 going 9-10 with a 3.73 ERA over 31 starts.

  EASY ON THE EARS: As the Dodger franchise gets set to head down the new road that is Camelback Ranch – Glendale, there remains a strong, sturdy link to the days of Campy, Jackie, Pee Wee, Gil, and Duke. The constant is a voice and it belongs to none other than Hall of Famer Vin Scully. Scully called the game for KCAL-9, beginning his 60th year in the Dodger organization. The New York native was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982 and this year was named the "Top Sportscaster of All-Time" by the American Sportscasters Association.        

CIAO, ADIOS, TAKE OFF, EH: The Dodger players participating in the World Baseball Classic this month either left this morning or will depart for their respective teams tomorrow. Those fleeing the ranch are Russell Martin (Canada), Jonathan Broxton (USA), Valentino Pascucci (Italy), and Luis Maza (Venezuela).  The semi-finals and finals of the second annual World Baseball Classic will be held at Dodger Stadium on March 21 and 23.  

WELCOMING OUR PARTNERS: The Dodgers would like to welcome their Minor League Partners this weekend.  Those visiting the campus include Triple-A Albuquerque President Ken Young and General Manager John Traub; Double-A Chattanooga Owner/President/GM Frank Burke; Single-A Great Lakes President/GM Paul Barbeau, Single-A Inland Empire Owner/President David Elmore and Co-Owner Donna Tuttle Elmore; and Rookie-advanced Ogden President Dave Baggott.  All seven partners attended the home opener against the White Sox.

  TOO GOOD TO "B" TRUE: The Dodgers will play a five-inning "B" game today (Monday) against the Brewers. Scheduled to pitch are LHP Randy Wolf, RHP Jeff Weaver, and LHP Eric Stults. Monday was originally scheduled as an off day for the Boys in Blue.

PITCHING PROBABLES: Tuesday, March 3 at Padres RHP Chad Billingsley, LHP Shawn Estes, RHP Jesus Castillo and RHP Travis Chick.