Dodgers visit Great Wall of China
Players, staff take in one of world's most historic structures
BEIJING, China -- The Dodgers have no time for jet lag.
A mix-up with the charter flight company trimmed a day off the club's China stay, so Friday's schedule was jam-packed, from a press conference and workout in the morning to a Great Wall visit in the afternoon and a formal reception at the team hotel for dinner in the evening.
But Joe Torre said the Dodgers' 18-hour flight from Florida, and the hectic schedule of events, were preparation for a grueling campaign.
"During the season, with half of the games on the road, we have a lot of late arrivals," he said. "You have to get used to these things."
Torre had already visited the Great Wall two months ago as part of the official announcement of the series. He arrived with his players on Friday for a photo shoot after the workout and 90-minute bus ride, then peeled off to visit the Forbidden City.
The squad he left behind then had its second workout of the day, climbing the Great Wall.
"I'm going to the top. That's where we're going this year, all the way to the top," said outfielder Matt Kemp, who reached the summit, which once was a military outpost and now houses a souvenir stand.
Most of his teammates focused on making the climb up the steep section of stone, but Kemp paused repeatedly to joke with vendors, stopping at a concession stand near the bottom to kick around a hacky-sack with feathers.
Players and field staff wore Dodgers home white jerseys, some layered with a souvenir sweatshirt found hanging in their lockers at Wukesong Stadium, and most had cameras in hand. A few who forgot outerwear purchased shirts or jackets for warmth, as the wind chill at the Wall was in the 40s.
"It's big," Sunday's starting pitcher, Eric Stults, said of the Wall, which snakes its way through the mountains north of the capital city. "I'd like to know more about the history, how long it took to build, the purpose of it. It's one of the Seven Wonders of the World. When you get on top, you see how far it goes and how magnificent a structure it is. It's something you can't see back home."
"It's hard to think how they built it thousands of years ago, with no machines," said pitcher Greg Miller. "Some of the steps are close to vertical."
The Dodgers' traveling party to the Great Wall included general manager Ned Colletti and assistant general manager Kim Ng.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.