Thursday, August 7, 2008

Exploring the Sights

By: Dick Cooke
Roly DeArmas (bullpen coach with the Phillies), Davey, Reggie Smith and I are staying at the team hotel just 10 minutes from the baseball venue and not far from many of the popular tourist destinations.

Today we decide to head to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City with three of our scouts. It's a 10 minute, $3 (US) cab ride. There are thousands and thousands of people there, but it's such a huge area it doesn't feel at all crowded. It's almost overwhelming how big the area is. Great architecture, enormous buildings and very, very open and clean. We're trying to figure out just who these folks are carrying fire extinguishers. Fire safety workers? No. We're told they are there for crowd control as well as the firetrucks with the water guns on top. Davey was at Tiananmen Square at 5:30 this morning - not by design, but due to his sleep pattern - and saw the changing of the guard.

Just as we're about to enter the Forbidden City I get a call from Paul Seiler (Exec. Director, USA Baseball) and our team orthopaedic doctor, and I have to return to the hotel to resolve some credential issues. We'll come back here again in the next day or so.

4 p.m. - Van leaves the hotel for the baseball venue. We use our first practice opportunity in Beijing to play an exhibition game versus China tonight. We have to squeeze it into a designated two-hour time limit (6-8 p.m.), which was the time allotted for our practice.

We take BP in the cages prior to the game, take a quick round of infield and then it was right into the game. All but one of the scheduled pitchers get in the game. Blaine Neal doesn't make his planned appearance, as the ballpark lights were turned off precisely at 8 p.m. It's a fairly pedestrian game, as we used this to get the reps we need.

We score 10 in the six innings we play. Jason Donald, who was 0-for-14 versus Canada, gets off the schneid with a broken-bat single and, as a result, we "stop" the game and give him the ball. The Chinese team has no idea what we are doing. It's doubtful he'll put that one on his mantel.

Nine a.m. practice on Friday then an intra-squad game Saturday. We hope to play China once more and the Netherlands before the opener on the 13th.

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