Mexico To Host Padres-mets

Posted: February 29, 1996

The San Diego Padres and New York Mets are going south of the border for major league baseball's first regular-season venture outside the United States and Canada.

Their Aug. 16 to 18 series will be played in Monterrey, Mexico, because of scheduling conflicts at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.

``What began as a scheduling problem evolved into a real opportunity for us to break new ground for major league baseball,'' Padres president Larry Lucchino said yesterday.

The Republican National Convention had asked for the option to use Jack Murphy Stadium as the site for an acceptance speech by its presidential nominee on Aug. 16.

The GOP later decided against the stadium plan, but the NFL's San Diego Chargers have scheduling priority at the stadium and have an exhibition game slated for Aug. 17.

So the Mets-Padres series will be played at Monterrey Stadium, a baseball-only ballpark built in 1990 to hold 26,000 fans. A contingent of Padres and Mets officials, including Padres manager Bruce Bochy and Mets manager Dallas Green, toured the stadium in December.

The series will be a homecoming of sorts for Padres pitchers Fernando Valenzuela and Andres Berumen, both natives of Mexico. Valenzuela was with the Los Angeles Dodgers when they played an exhibition in Monterrey in 1991.

``I think it's going to be a good experience for the fans there,'' Valenzuela said at spring training in Peoria, Ariz. ``I've played there before, but now it's going to be the regular season. The games are going to count. So that's pretty good.''

The Seattle Mariners had proposed to start the 1995 season with a series in Japan, but it was vetoed by the union. In other news:

PIRATES: EXTEND GARCIA The Pittsburgh Pirates signed second baseman Carlos Garcia to a one-year contract extension worth $2.4 million. Garcia was an All-Star in 1994, batting .294 in 104 games with six home runs and 50 RBI. Garcia will make $1.35 million this year in a previous deal and $2.4 million in 1997.

ANGELS: STADIUM DEAL NEAR Walt Disney Co. is prepared to pay about $70 million to renovate Anaheim Stadium if the city will put up another $30 million for the project, California Angels executive Jackie Autry said.

``Both sides have come a mile, and now they're about 10 inches apart,'' she said after a closed City Council meeting Tuesday night.

Disney has major league baseball's approval to buy 25 percent of the Angels from Gene Autry, with the understanding that Disney will manage the organization and eventually own it outright.

RANGERS: SIGN BUFORD The Texas Rangers signed outfielder Damon Buford to a one-year deal. No terms were announced.

WHITE SOX: `STRAW' CALLS The Chicago White Sox heard from Darryl Strawberry's representatives after Tony Phillips's sudden retirement Tuesday, but general manager Ron Schueler said the team will let Dave Martinez and Lyle Mouton compete for the starting leftfield spot.

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