Padres strengthen efforts in the Dominican

The Padres have high hopes for their new "academy" in the Dominican Republic beyond the obvious goal of producing players for the San Diego roster.

"We think the benefits can be far-reaching for both the Padres, the players and the region," Padres owner John Moores said after the groundbreaking for the facility, which will cost at least $8 million to build and should open early in 2008.

"Even if a player who trains at our facility doesn't reach the major leagues, I'd like him to take something positive away from the experience," Moores said. "We're going to be there for the long haul for both us and the community."

The Padres' new facility will house up to 65 players and will include a computer lab, classrooms, training facilities and a kitchen and dining room.

"We want to teach these kids as well as develop their baseball skills," said Moores. "For the players who advance to the United States, they will enter the next level with an introduction to everything from English, to handling their financial affairs to hygiene and nutrition.

"For those who don't advance, we want them to leave better than when they arrived."

The academy will be used year-round and just not by players from the Dominican Republic. The Padres plan to use the site as a starting point for all players they sign from Latin America. The Padres also envision the facility hosting fantasy camps in the future.

"This is going to be a great place to begin for young players as well as a destination for fans and visitors," said Moores.

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