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At the Dodgers' last day of spring training

By Jose Romero - Mar 16, 2014

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- I probably should have looked into it beforehand, but it wasn't until I saw the big Budget trucks outside the Los Angeles Dodgers spring training facility, Camelback Ranch, on Sunday morning that I realized that the suitcases and bags were headed for....

Los Angeles, and that the Dodgers players and staff were on their final day of spring training. 

From here it was off to Australia for the first two games of the Major League Baseball season, against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Chartered flights would take the 30-man roster, coaches and staff to Sydney for counting games March 22 and 23, or both on March 22 for those of us in the U.S. 

When they return stateside, it will be to L.A., where they'll play the Angels in the Freeway Series and open the regular season again in San Diego.

So began my day at Camelback Ranch, where I was working for MLB.com. My first hour there, the clubhouse was open to media, so I went in and saw guys playing table tennis, a film crew capturing video, outfielder Matt Kemp with his nephews, the lineup for the day's game featuring nine guys who will be on the major-league roster this year, and crazy-haired pitcher Brian WIlson getting a hug from teammate Juan Uribe on his birthday, with a high hand slap from Hanley Ramirez. 

That was just for starters. 

The ping pong table did not go unused. As the clubhouse closing time approached, activity started picking up. Ramirez, Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig -- who is actually a pretty loud and big guy -- danced to a song called FDB by someone called Childish Gambino and maybe Young Dro. 

Sorry. I guess I'm not "with it," when it comes to today's rap, but the beat was good.

Everyone was mugging for the Time Warner Cable Sports cameras. Then the media left, went back into our work area, and suddenly, Dodgers legend Fernando Valenzuela popped in.

"Full house. Good morning everyone!" Fernando said. 

During our time with manager Don Mattingly outside the clubhouse, I could hear the fans as Puig came running down the path that leads to the fields. 

"Puiiiiiiiiigggg!!!!" 

After an hour-and-a-half of writing it was time to go to the ballpark for the game against the Colorado Rockies, the last one of spring training. Apparently most folks knew this, since the stadium was packed with 13,115 fans. 

I have not had a Dodger Dog since last April 30, so I got one. Five bucks at Camelback Ranch and it's just like the one at Chavez Ravine. Farmer John's baby! 

The game was entertaining even if it did end in a 3-3 tie after nine innings. Adrian Gonzalez drove in two runs. Ramirez looked like he was singing "Don't Stop Believin'" (I'm not joking) to Uribe during a pitching change. Puig showed off his cannon arm and threw a strike to home plate for a tag play, but catcher A.J. Ellis missed the tag on Colorado's Matt McBride yet McBride was called out. 

That's when MLB's new replay rule was put to the test. The Rockies challenged the call, and it was reversed. 

At one point, all of the players from both teams came out to the base lines and high-fived a guy named Gary Swanson, who'd beaten cancer and got to hit an imaginary home run and slap hands with the players while everyone applauded. 

A tribute to one of the great pinch-hitters of all time, Manny Mota, was shown on the video board set to this song. Very classy. 

The game ended, probably suddenly for some folks who weren't aware of the Australia trip. The sounds of Men at Work's "Down Under" played over the loudspeakers, I worked until a little after 6 p.m., and so ended another Dodgers spring training in Arizona. 

 

 

 

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