PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Globetrotters, er, Dodgers, touched down in Phoenix, whipped the Chicago White Sox 8-2 in their first Cactus League game and then promptly named Brad Penny as their Opening Day starter.
"We sort of had it planned that way if he kept progressing this spring," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Going into the sixth inning today, he had thrown only 61 pitches."
Game-time Thursday didn't come a moment too soon, either. The Dodgers actually landed in the Valley of the Sun following their two exhbition games with San Diego in China a couple of nights ago, and they worked out at Papago Park here adjacent to Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Wednesday.
Because Oakland hadn't yet vacated the facilities for Japan -- the A's left following their game Wednesday -- the Dodgers dressed for their workout in Salon B at the Phoenix Ritz Carlton Hotel and clomped out toward the team bus and cabs from there.
"It was pretty impressive that our clubhouse staff made it work," pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney said. "It was nice to see training tables under chandeliers."
Sweeney noted it was a bit unusual to go to get his car from the valet in full uniform, but not quite as unusual as catcher Gary Bennett running into Starbucks in full uniform for the morning coffee. That was the deal Sweeney drove for giving him a ride to practice.
The Dodgers were able to move their equipment into Oakland's now-empty home clubhouse Thursday morning, and they'll be temporary residents here for the rest of the spring before breaking camp -- such as it is, after shutting down Vero Beach and then spending three days in China -- next week.
The real fun then begins once they're back in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers, as part of theit 50th anniversary celebration, will host the Boston Red Sox in an exhibition game at the Los Angeles Coliseum next Saturday.
The Dodgers, who played at the Coliseum when they first moved to Southern California before Dodger Stadium was built, are expecting 115,000 fans for the nostalgic game.
And while there, the Red Sox may notice that their Green Monster suddenly seems pretty small. Because of the configuration of the Coliseum, left field will be -- I am not making this up -- 200 feet from home plate. The old Coliseum wasn't quite as "intimate" because, as you might remember from old Olympic footage, there once was a track ringing the field. But that's gone and the seats are closer, so what the Dodgers will do while attempting to keep the pitchers sane is erect a 60-foot high wall in left-field.
Wonder what Manny Ramirez will think of that?
As for the Dodgers, I'm sure they'll just be happy to be home.
Oh, and by the way, Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium? The club's gear gear got moved in on time, and the Dodgers actually dressed in a clubhouse again.
"It was nice," Torre said. "And we get to do it again tomorrow."
Likes: Big pro-Dodgers crowd of 7,654 in attendance. ... White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker singing along with Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues as it was playing on the Phoenix Municipal Stadium sound system during batting practice before Thursday's Cactus League game with the Dodgers. ... Another classic A.J. Pierzynski moment in Thursday's game: He lofted a high foul pop down the left-field line and was called out even though nobody caught it. Reason? Dodgers left fielder Andre Ethier ran into one of the White Sox relievers as he was warming up on a bullpen mound. The Sox pitcher didn't move out of Ethier's way, and the umpires thumbed Pierzynski out because of the obstruction. ... The mountains in the background at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Beautiful setting here.
Dislikes: The USA Today story the other day pointing out that one in 25 residents of New Orleans is homeless. That is an unbelievable and pathetic number for a country as supposedly advanced as ours. Yeah, great job, Brownie. ... No more wireless Internet in the Phoenix Municipal Stadium press box. The Oakland A's packed it up and took it with them when they broke camp Wednesday. Seriously, don't know whether it's on the plan to Japan or on the bus back to Oakland. Whatever, it was awfully inconvenient attempting to get work done at the Dodgers-White Sox game here Thursday. The Dodgers replaced Oakland at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. ... Arizona already on Pacific Time instead of remaining on Mountain Time, as it often is at this point in March. The problem? Once the NCAA tournament starts, we get games out here at 4:10 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the end of the day, as opposed to 5 and 7:30. That hour makes all the difference when you're working during the day and attempting to finish in time to see some hoops.
Sunblock day? It's warming up. Into the 80s and you'd better coat yourself with sunblock several layers of sunblock. Otherwise, you'll burn.
Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:
"Sittin' here resting my bones
"And this loneliness won't leave me alone, yes,
"Two thousand miles I roam
"Just to make this dock my home"
-- Otis Redding, (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay