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Dodgers eyeing games in Taiwan

Dodgers eyeing games in Taiwan

NAPLES, Fla. -- While the Dodgers are waiting for final confirmation of their exhibition games against the Padres next March in Beijing, China, a new wrinkle to the trip came to the surface on Thursday.

Immediately after the games on March 15-16 at the 12,000-seat Olympic baseball facility, the Dodgers are eyeing another pair of exhibition games in neighboring Taiwan on March 18-19, confirmed Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's president and chief operating officer.

"That's what they're looking at," said DuPuy, as two days of uneventful owners meetings wound down on Thursday morning.

The thing is, it won't be against the Padres, who are already planning on returning to Arizona to continue Spring Training immediately after their second exhibition game in Beijing, but against a still-to-be determined squad of Taiwanese nationals.

"It won't be us," said Sandy Alderson, the Padres chief executive and former MLB vice president of baseball operations whose bailiwick included the global expansion of the game. "I just heard about this yesterday."

Jamie McCourt, the Dodgers president and vice chairman, declined to comment on Thursday about the projected excursion.

That would mean more than a week of MLB games in Asia, concluding with the Red Sox and A's opening the season in the Tokyo Dome on March 25-26, a series that was formally announced on Wednesday. During the Japanese portion of the trip, the two Major League teams are also scheduled to play day-night doubleheaders against a pair of Nippon Professional Baseball squads on March 22-23.

The Japanese teams will probably be the Central League Giants, who are owned by host Yomiuri, one of the largest media corporations in the world, and the Chiba Lotte Marines, who have a working relationship with the Red Sox and are managed by former Mets skipper Bobby Valentine.

Beijing will host the Summer Olympics from next Aug. 8-24, and is staging what may be the final baseball medal competition of the summer games in two small ballparks outside the city. Demonstration games were already played there this past summer and the exhibition games between the Dodgers and Padres are slated for the larger of the two facilities, which holds 12,000 people.

It would be the first recent MLB games of any kind in that country, which banned baseball during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.

The delay in making that announcement has nothing to do at this point with MLB, DuPuy said, since the Padres, Dodgers and players union are all in agreement about going.

"It's getting the permits from the [Chinese] government," he said on Wednesday. "It's an administrative process and we want to be very sensitive to the needs and the protocols of the Chinese government. It's the first time we've ever done this and they're very busy with it being their Olympic year. They've been very supportive of it and we're hopeful of getting it done."

Like the Padres, who have already played regular-season games twice in Mexico and a series in Honolulu, the Dodgers are hot on expanding their brand internationally.

The Dodgers played exhibition games against the Mets in Mexico City during Spring Training 2003 and have long been a presence in both Japan and China.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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