We arrived last night to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, where we’ll be on a goodwill trip, so to speak. In addition to numerous business meetings taking place, we’ll be holding a tryout this morning for some of our baseball operations group to see, as well as touring the Dodgers’ facility each. I was fortunate to come down here about five years ago for the first time, but much like Dodgertown, you can’t really ever get enough of Campo Las Palmas.
Actually, my recollections from the first visit are just that – Dodgertown. The academy here feels like a mini-Dodgertown in the DR. The feel is the same, only everyone is speaking Spanish!
Tommy Lasorda, Ned Colletti, Ralph Avila and Jose Vizcaino are the key names that you’ll recognize among the group here. We all flew from Los Angeles yesterday and while we were waiting for our connecting flight in Miami, Tommy Lasorda was telling stories from his years of managing here in the winter. He actually told one about getting thrown in a jail in the city of Santiago for arguing with the umpire…it was priceless. Many of the players you know from the 70s were here with him, including Rick Rhoden, Charlie Hough, Steve Garvey, Bobby Valentine, Doug Rau, Tom Paciorek and others. Tommy thinks that their time playing here helped them reach the big leagues a year or two earlier than they would have otherwise.
As for modern day Dominican baseball, Jose Vizcaino likens it to good Triple-A, as he said that the two top teams,Licey and the Aguilas could probably beat most Triple-A teams. As many of you have read, Rafael Furcal attributes his hot start this year to playing down here in the winter.
Last night, Ralph was showing us some of the photos of the land that Campo Las Palmas was built on before it was built. It’s really amazing to see how far baseball has come in this country and what a huge impact it has had on the Major Leagues.
Well, it’s 8 a.m. here and we’re off to the academy shortly, but I’ll post again late tonight after our news conference.