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Dodgers celebrate first game at new spring training stadium

DODGERS

The occasion at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix is marked by pageantry. They lose to Chicago White Sox, with whom they share the facility, 3-2.

March 02, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

PHOENIX — Spring training never looked like this. At least not for the Dodgers.

Pyrotechnics were set off in the outfield. Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem. Fighter jets flew over the stadium.

The Dodgers and Chicago White Sox faced each other Sunday in the grand opening of the new spring training stadium they share, with the White Sox claiming a 3-2 victory at Camelback Ranch by scoring three runs in the top of the ninth inning.

The Dodgers and White Sox might have inflated the attendance -- the number of empty seats in the 13,000-seat stadium seemed to indicate that 11,280 people weren't there -- but players on the field described the atmosphere as being unique.

"This game was a little different," Matt Kemp said.

"I don't know if we ever had a flyover in Vero," Delwyn Young said, referring to the Dodgers' previous spring training home in Vero Beach, Fla.

Young said he wasn't sure whether he preferred Camelback Ranch to Holman Stadium.

"It's hard to compare tradition to a facility that's new," he said. "But I like it."

Jason Repko said the Dodgers' being closer to Los Angeles had a noticeable effect.

"You see a lot more of the crowd coming straight from Los Angeles," he said. "Obviously, it's a bit younger crowd. It was nice."

Pitchers stand out

Hiroki Kuroda, a candidate to start on opening day, tossed two scoreless innings in a performance that Torre described as "dominant." He retired six of the seven batters he faced, the exception being Jayson Nix, who doubled.

Kuroda, who has spent this spring carefully nursing his shoulder back to health, said he was glad to get his first start of the spring out of the way.

"That I was able to do this was a relief for me," Kuroda said. "I felt very unsure for a long time."

Eric Milton and Claudio Vargas, two pitchers competing for the final spot in the rotation, each tossed a pair of scoreless innings.

Refunds offered

The Dodgers invited some fans to buy single-game tickets for higher prices than the team has decided to charge this season, chief operating officer Dennis Mannion confirmed Sunday. He said all fans who bought tickets at the higher price would receive a refund for the difference.

On Saturday, the Dodgers' website displayed a price list that included increases for almost every seat in the house. Mannion said Saturday that the Web page had been posted in error and that the Dodgers had considered raising prices but had decided to freeze them. The Web page has been removed.

Richard Flom, rabbi at Temple Emanu El in Burbank, said Sunday he had bought tickets last week "as part of a special promo for Dodgers e-mail subscribers." He paid $35 each for loge seats the Dodgers now say cost $30 each.

Mannion said the Dodgers had done "two presales to some of our database." He said the Dodgers had sold "very few" of the tickets at the incorrect prices, although he declined to provide a specific number.

Short hops

The Dodgers don't have a Cactus League game scheduled today but will play a five-inning "B" game against the Milwaukee Brewers. . . . Andre Ethier, who is recovering from a bruised heel, will be a designated hitter in today's game. Torre said Ethier still feels discomfort when rounding bases. . . . Hong-Chih Kuo threw a live batting practice session Saturday and reported no problems. . . . Brent Leech and Erick Threets were identified by Torre as possibilities to be the club's situational left-hander.

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Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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Feel the heat

T.J. Simers has a sunny disposition after attending the opening game at Camelback Ranch. PAGE 2

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Waiting game

A decision to appeal a key ruling in the Barry Bonds perjury trial could delay it for six months. PAGE 9

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He's out

Angels closer Brian Fuentes won't play in the first round of the World Baseball Classic. PAGE 9

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