Dodgers' trip to China delayed a day by charter problem

Updated: March 3, 2008, 8:03 PM ET
Associated Press

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- The Dodgers' trip to China next week will be delayed by a day.

Originally scheduled to make the long flight to Beijing on Monday, the team will depart from Orlando the following day because the original charter company contracted by Major League Baseball didn't receive approval to land in China before its deadline.

Now, the Dodgers will bus to Orlando on Monday and spend the night before departing on another charter.

Team spokesman Josh Rawitch said the team will arrive about 20 hours later than originally scheduled.

"The only thing it really does is eliminate the off-day there," manager Joe Torre said. "It just makes sightseeing a little tighter. We'll work out here [Monday] before heading to Orlando."

Rawitch said a visit to the Great Wall of China still is planned.

"I did the Wall in January," Torre said, referring to his trip to Beijing for a news conference to discuss the series.

The team also announced that players from seven countries will make the trip for the first major league exhibition games in that country. The Dodgers will face the San Diego Padres on March 15-16 at Beijing's Olympic baseball venue.

Pitcher Hong-Chi Kuo and shortstop Chin-Lung Hu are both from Taiwan. Among the others listed on the travel party are infielders Nomar Garciaparra, Ramon Martinez and Mark Sweeney; outfielders Andruw Jones and Matt Kemp; and non-roster pitchers Chan Ho Park and Tanyon Sturtze.

"What a unique opportunity, to go play baseball in another country," said Garciaparra, who chose to be member of the traveling party. "I haven't been to China, it will be difficult, hard on our bodies with all the travel. But I look forward to it."

The games will begin at 1 p.m. local time -- 10 p.m. in California on the previous two days.

The two exhibitions and the Olympics in Beijing give baseball a chance to show its appeal, with the sport dropped from the 2012 London Olympics but looking to return in 2016.

"I'm not excited for the flight time. I am looking forward to everything else about it," Sweeney said. "I'm a big fan of traveling, seeing different cultures. I know a lot of stuff is going to be new for us."

With Torre gone, Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda will manage a Dodgers' split squad in eight exhibition games in Florida. The 80-year-old Lasorda retired as manager of the Dodgers in 1996 after a heart attack.

Coaches Larry Bowa, Bob Schaefer, Mike Easler and Rick Honeycutt will stay behind to work with Lasorda.

Notes
RHP James McDonald agreed to a one-year contract, becoming the last player on the 40-man roster to each an agreement. ... RHP Jason Schmidt made 40 throws from about 40 feet Sunday. Schmidt, rehabbing from shoulder surgery last June, took four days off from throwing because of fatigue in his shoulder. Torre repeated that he's not planning on Schmidt being ready by Opening Day. ... Torre said closer Takashi Saito, bothered by cramping in his right calf, also threw Sunday and barely any soreness. It's unclear when Saito will make his exhibition debut.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press