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Earthquake won't alter Taiwan trip

Earthquake won't alter Taiwan trip

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers' goodwill trip to Taiwan next week is still on despite the 6.4 earthquake the island nation experienced Thursday, a club official said.

"Our thoughts are with the people affected," said vice president of communications Josh Rawitch.

"We've been in touch with the governor of Kaohsiung and we've been told there's no structural damage in the stadium there. Engineers are doing full inspections over the next 48 hours, but as long as there are no issues, we expect the trip to continue as planned."

A split squad of Dodgers -- led by outfielder Manny Ramirez -- is expected to depart Phoenix on Wednesday for the 15-hour flight to Taipei. The Dodgers and an All-Star club from the Chinese Professional Baseball League will play two games in the Taipei area Friday and Saturday, then on Sunday take a bullet train from the north end of the island to the south for the final game in Kachsiung, which is roughly 50 miles southwest of the epicenter of the earthquake.

Taiwan is located near the intersection of two tectonic plates, making it seismically active. A 6.3 magnitude quake also hit off the coast of Taiwan last month.

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Manager Joe Torre said he's never managed during an earthquake, but he hasn't forgotten what it was like to be seated in the upper deck at Candlestick Park for the 1989 World Series when the Loma Prieta quake struck.

"It was scary," said Torre. "At first, I thought it was from the [military jets] flyover. It was a helpless feeling. The deck swayed once and twice, and the third time we felt way over the deck. I was with [ESPN's] Chris Berman and said, 'Let's get out of here.'"

In addition to Ramirez, prominent players on the travel roster are first baseman James Loney, second basemen Jamey Carroll and Ronnie Belliard, pitcher Eric Stults and Taiwan natives Hong-Chih Kuo and Chin-lung Hu.

Hu, who lives in the southern part of the country, said he spoke to family members after the earthquake. He said the damage was minor and he had no hesitancy about going home.

"It was nothing special," Hu said after hearing reports from home. "I think the city is OK, nothing bad. I want to go."

Stults said he hadn't changed his mind about going and neither has Kuo.

"My family felt it," Kuo said. "But everything is good there now."

Carroll said he was still planning to go.

"Not much we can do about it," he said. "I'm sure if they have earthquakes, they're prepared."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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