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Diamondbacks adjusting to SCG

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SYDNEY, Australia - Ivy-covered walls in Wrigley Field, the Green Monster at Fenway Park and now, it's "the wicket" at the Sydney Cricket Grounds.

Seems as though each venue has its own characteristics and elements which distinguishes from other ball parks or structures.

For the Sydney Cricket Ground, affectionally known as SCG, that means do not temper with history, tradition and the specter of the game of cricket.

That's one of the nuisances the Diamondbacks face when they open the National League season this Saturday night here.

While the hallowed and revered SCG underwent a "blasphemous" transformation from a cricket ground to a baseball diamond, one of the treasures of the venue will not change.

The 22-foot long "wicket," that stretches from just beyond second base to shallow centerfield, remains. That's the directive from the SGC Trust, which controls use of the facility.

The message is loud and clear.

We gave permission to construct a baseball diamond, the Trust indicated, but this will be baseball on cricket terms. Both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks have conducted practices slamming a baseball off the wicket and trying to play the launching sphere.

This is one of the elements of the venue facing D-backs' manager Kirk Gibson and his players.

"They did a good job of getting the field ready," Gibson said after the D-backs workout Wednesday afternoon. "However, there are a few things we need to figure out."

After the Diamondbacks took their first batting session Wednesday, the consensus thought the background was strong and SGC would likely be a decent hitters' park.

During night games, Gibson said he was worried about the possibility of dew in the outfield. That would slow the ball down and cause some slippery conditions. The D-backs play Team Australia Friday night and open the season with the Dodgers on Saturday night.

"I suspect the ball might carry a little better during the day," Gibson said, referring to the Sunday daylight game with L. A. "I also have some concerns with the lights. It will be interesting to see how we adjust to the lights here."

With five light towers positioned for cricket, there could be a concern that part of the playing field may be brighter or darker than others.

Then, there's the issue of foul territory.

The SGC structure is essential an oval. When the baseball field was constructed, the design left a great deal of space between the third base line and the dugout and ditto on the first base side.

Given the scope and size of the foul territory, Gibson said the dynamics must be addressed, but added, "we're excited to play here and be part of the history of the game."

THINKING AHEAD

With lefty Wade Miley is set to start the season Saturday night and Trevor Cahill to follow on Sunday, manager Kirk Gibson said the rotation to open the Chase Field portion of the season remains uncertain.

After two with the Dodgers here, the D-backs have four pre-games back in Arizona before taking on the San Francisco Giants March 31 in Chase Field for keeps.

"At this point, our options are limited," Gibson indicated. "We hope (Bronson Arroyo) will be ready and able to take his turn."

Right now, Arroyo is suffering from a budging disc in his back and if not recovered properly could land the 37 year-old native of Key West, Fla. on the Disabled List.

Gibson still must decide on a fifth starter to replace Patrick Corbin and try and keep Brandon McCarthy healthy and off the DL. For his part, McCarthy landed on the DL in each of his previous six Major League seasons.

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