BEIJING, China -- After a journey of 7,500 miles over 18 hours, the Los Angeles Dodgers arrived in China on Thursday night from Orlando for their weekend goodwill series against the San Diego Padres.
That teams from Los Angeles and San Diego crossed the international dateline to play is testimony to the importance of growing baseball in all corners of the world and, particularly, the emerging market of China.
Among other achievements, the series fulfills a goal general manager Ned Colletti laid out to Dodgers owner and chairman Frank McCourt during his series of interviews that led to his hiring.
"This is a fantastic, untapped market," said Colletti. "The Dodgers have been trailblazers in Japan and Korea and Taiwan, and I felt we should be the same in China."
Headlining the Dodgers contingent is new manager Joe Torre, who attended the official announcement of the series in December; new starting center fielder Andruw Jones and likely starting right fielder Matt Kemp. Veterans Nomar Garciaparra and Mark Sweeney, on the original manifest, were late scratches because of injuries.
The rest of the Dodgers are in Florida, led by Hall of Fame manager and former Dodgers skipper Tom Lasorda.
Torre's split-squad consists mostly of prospects and non-roster invitees. The two games will be played Saturday and Sunday afternoons (China time), with native Korean Chan Ho Park starting for the Dodgers on Saturday and Eric Stults starting on Sunday. Games will be played at Wukesong Stadium, the baseball venue for this summer's Olympic Games.
The Dodgers will work out on Friday, bus for a quick visit to the Great Wall of China, then attend a formal welcome reception at the team's hotel.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.