The Los Angeles Dodgers may begin spring training in Arizona sooner than scheduled. Like, next March.
The Dodgers, who are to open their new facility in Glendale in 2009, could spend the final two weeks of 2008 spring training in Arizona in a scenario that has developed as a result of Major League Baseball’s ongoing efforts to expand globally.
The unusual possibility involves two visits to the Far East, one settled and one still under consideration, and the likelihood that the Dodgers will close the door on their Vero Beach, Fla., for good in mid-March.
The Diamondbacks also have offered to get involved to facilitate the Dodgers’ relocation.
“I reached out to them and told if they needed a place, we would love to have them,” said D-Backs president Derrick Hall, who Thursday offered the Dodgers the use of the training facility in Tucson.
“We are willing to let them work out and play games in Tucson.”
Major League Baseball already has agreed to open the regular season in Japan, when Boston and Cactus League member Oakland will play a two-game series in the Tokyo Dome on March 25-26.
The Dodgers, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, are mulling an offer to play a split-squad exhibition series against Cactus League member San Diego in Beijing, China, on March 14-15, as that country prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.
If the Dodgers OK the trip, the pieces would fall into place for them to complete spring training in Arizona.
Oakland, to prepare for its series against Boston in Tokyo, will leave for Japan at least a week earlier for several exhibition games against Japanese League teams.
That would free their spring training complex at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in mid-March, since the A’s plan to go directly to Oakland when they return from Japan.
The Dodgers could move out of their Vero Beach facility before the China trip, then spend the final weeks of spring training at Phoenix Municipal.
If Los Angeles moves to Arizona, it would make scheduling sense, enabling the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues to finish the exhibition season with an even number of teams, since Boston also trains in Florida.