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Phoenix, Ariz.

Dodgers spring training: tips and tactics

February 15, 2009|Sherry Stern and Christopher Smith

The Dodgers open their new spring training ballpark in two weeks, with the first of 17 games at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. After enjoying countless games with other teams in the Cactus League in the last decade, we can offer hard-learned advice to Arizona rookies. -- Sherry Stern and Christopher Smith


Plan or adjust

Weekend games tend to sell out quickly. Procrastinators will find better seats for weekday games. Tickets to sit on the grass are almost always available.

Go east with caution

If you want to follow the Dodgers to an away game, be warned that a trip to the Angels, A's, Cubs or Giants stadiums involves a 25-mile or so drive to the east side of Phoenix -- and back. If you're staying near the Dodgers' park in the western suburbs, you're pretty much doomed to a miserable rush-hour commute after a 1:05 p.m. away game. So go, but figure to stick around until the end of the game and have dinner -- you'll find plenty of good spots in Phoenix and Scottsdale -- and drive back after traffic eases.

You might need a score card

If you want to see future stars, catch games in the first week of March when the team's prospects will make plenty of late-inning appearances before they are reassigned to the minor leagues. If you're interested in seeing lots of at-bats by the starters, wait till the last two weeks of spring training, when the regulars play six or seven innings a game.

Who says baseball has no clock?

Arizona doesn't have daylight saving time, so keep in mind that games through the first week of March start at 12:05 p.m. California time; 1:05 p.m. for the rest, except the two night games.

A penny saved

If you are driving from Southern California, fill up your tank on the Arizona side of the border. You'll pay from 15 to 20 cents less per gallon.

Ease on home

Before the drive home, consider a final away game in Goodyear, the new home for the Indians. A stop here, slightly west of Camelback, will let you shave a few miles off the trek home.


The perfect week

A visit March 3 to 9 is an ideal chance to check out the team and the new stadium in-depth, with four games at Camelback: one against the rival Giants, one with the Mariners and two versus the White Sox. The week could start with an away game against the Padres in nearby Peoria and end at the Rangers' park in Surprise. In the middle, the Dodgers travel to Mesa to play the Cubs on March 6. (The Cubs' Hohokam Stadium often sells out. Consider yourself warned.)

Long weekend at home

The Dodgers have just one four-game weekend run at Camelback, March 27 to 30. Opponents are the Royals, White Sox, Padres and A's.

Notable home games

Expect these National League opponents to draw raucous crowds: Giants on March 4 and the Cubs on March 17 (St. Patrick's Day, which traditionally means green caps).

New arch-rival

The Dodgers share the Camelback Ranch complex with the Chicago White Sox and face them more than any other team this spring. The Dodgers are the home team on March 1 (the official opening of the stadium) and 5; they are the away team on March 8 and 28.

Something different

On March 12, the Dodgers will play an exhibition game against one of the foreign national teams competing in the World Baseball Classic tournament. (Later in March, Dodger Stadium hosts three games.)

Under the lights

We love watching a game under the bakey desert sun, but if you prefer a night game, there's one at Camelback: March 24 against the Mariners, with the first pitch at 7:05.


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