SYDNEY. Australia - While the sojourn here could be considered a disruption to routine preparation, players will have to quickly adopt to conditions.
That's precisely what the Los Angeles Dodgers plan to do when they engage the Diamondbacks next weekend to open the National League season here at the hallowed Sydney Cricket Grounds.
For the Dodgers, the games represents the first stop in redemption.
Dropping the National League Championship Series last fall to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Dodgers took at the games in Australia as vital preparation toward an eventually World Series title.
In an interview with the Sydney Herald the other day, Dodgers' first baseman Adrain Gonzalez expressed a real sense of urgency to the two game set with Arizona. At the same time, the Dodgers' commitment to talent appears to justify the notion to"win now."
While former two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is slated to go in the opener next Saturday, the six-year, $215 million recently handed to the Dallas, Texas shows Magic Johnson and ownership appear on a fast track to gain L. A.'s first title since 1988. Lest we forget, that was the year of the iconic Kirk Gibson home run against Oakland.
For now, the Diamondbacks need to match the Dodgers' heightened sense of purpose and unity. While most pundits feel L. A. is the team to beat to the NL West, a quick start in Sydney by Arizona could drop an important calling card.
THE OLD AND NEW
Baseball fans in Australia, and about 10,000 Americans are expected to attend, will see a bit of history and a look into the future.
That's in regard to the starting pitching D-backs' manager Kirk Gibson has scheduled.
In all, the Diamondbacks will play three games here. There's an exhibition game next Friday night against Team Australia and two to open the regular season with the Dodgers.
In the match against the Australians, right-hander Archie Bradley will get the start.
Already the most-talked personality around the D-backs clubhouse at Salt River, Bradley will get another opportunity to progress up the ladder.
In line as a possible fifth starter, if the stars are aligned, Bradley has been impressive this spring. Should Bronson Arroyo's bulging disk issue be prolonged, Bradley could start the season in the rotation. Then again, he would likely have more spring training start for evaluation.
If Bradley is "the future," starters for Dodgers, lefty Patrick Corbin and rightly Trevor Cahill showcased veteran talent. Sure, last season was Corbin's initial one in the major leagues, but the native of Clay, N. Y. was good enough to make the National League All-Star team and lead the Diamondbacks in victories (with 14).
Cahill is trying to right his ship and continues to struggle this spring. He will start the second game, next Sunday afternoon, and oppose Dodgers' lefty Hyun-Jin Ryo.
Corbin will face newly minted Clayton Kershaw (six years, $215 mil) in the opener next Saturday night.
"BUY ME SOME PEANUTS AND CRACKER JACK ..."
For those planning to attend the games here next week, expect the same fare as you might find at Chase Field.
Only this time, the quantities are expected to be super-human.
Delaware North, who has the concession contract for the Sydney Cricket Grounds, has some surprises.
Forget healthy alternatives. DNC is pouring on the fat and calories.
First, they are offering The Chipper, a huge portion of nachos with meat and waffle fries. Then there's The Streaker, a thick slab of bacon dripping in maple syrup and pepper and served on a stick.
Don't forget The All-American Super Dog, a foot-long hot dog smothered in chili, cheese sauce, tomato, onions and cheddar cheese.
For the native Australians, it's good ol' fish and chips.