Dodgers happy with Wukesong Stadium
Beijing park draws generally positive reviews after workout
BEIJING -- Reviews were generally positive as the Dodgers came off the field after practicing on Friday at Wukesong Stadium, the site of this weekend's goodwill series against the Padres and, later this summer, the Olympic baseball competition.
The symmetrical playing field is 320 feet down the lines and 400 feet to dead center. The park seats 12,000, and the temperature is expected to be approximately 60 degrees at game time.
The one noticeable aspect of the field was the closely cropped grass.
"It looked like [artificial] turf when I first stepped on it," said infielder Ramon Martinez. "It's really, really fast, but it's playable."
Manager Joe Torre said that the field appeared to be "quick but fine -- I don't think it's dangerous. It will be like playing on turf -- a ball in the gap will go to the wall."
Outfielder Andruw Jones said that the grass in the outfield was just as quick as the infield and that the ball seemed to carry well in the air.
Pitchers Tanyon Sturtze and Eric Hull threw in the bullpen, and the construction and slope of the mounds were "perfect," according to Sturtze.
Chan Ho Park will start Saturday's game, and Eric Stults starts on Sunday. Torre is looking to see Park repeat his outing of Monday, when he threw three perfect innings against Baltimore in Fort Lauderdale. Park will have a limit of 65 to 70 pitches.
"He was intriguing," said Torre.
Taiwan's Chin-lung Hu will start at shortstop. Hu is in the picture for a utility infield job because of the lingering injury to Tony Abreu, although Torre said he's been told that Abreu could return to game action within days. George Lombard, impressive in the crowded outfield, also has caught the manager's eye and will see playing time.
Torre said that he was leaving it up to Jones and Matt Kemp to decide who plays center field and who is the designated hitter on Saturday, with the players swapping roles on Sunday.
Kemp said that he will start the first game in center after a high-powered decision meeting with Jones in the clubhouse.
"We did paper, rock, scissors, and I won," Kemp said.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.