Major League Baseball to send delegation to China

Major
League Baseball will send a high-level delegation to

China this month to inspect
stadiums ahead of a possible trip there for exhibition games next year, The
Associated Press said.

Bob DuPuy,
MLB’s chief operating officer, will head the group, which also will include San
Diego Padres chief executive officer Sandy Alderson, Boston Red Sox president
Larry Lucchino and Pittsburgh Pirates CEO Kevin McClatchy.

“It’s
the proverbial fact-finding trip,” Lucchino said. “The Red Sox are in
favor of international play and have been for a long time.”

MLB has
discussed the possibility of playing exhibition games in

China next
March. DuPuy said it also was possible those games could be tied to opening the
regular season in

Tokyo.

A ballpark
is being built in

Beijing
for the 2008 Olympics.

“We
don’t know the status of the field at this point,” DuPuy said.

In
addition to

Beijing, the delegation will travel
to

Shanghai.
DuPuy said a decision would have to be made before the 2008 schedule is firmed
up — while management must give it to the players’ association by July 1, the
union in the past has granted delays.

Also
making the trip will be MLB executive vice presidents Tim Brosnan and Jimmie
Lee Solomon, and senior vice president Paul Archey. DuPuy said the group will
head to

China
on May 29.

The New
York Mets and Chicago Cubs opened the regular-season with a pair of games at
the Tokyo Dome in 2000, and the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays
started the 2004 schedule there with a two-game series.

With
Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima pitching for

Boston,
interest in the Red Sox is high in

Japan.

On another
matter, DuPuy said MLB will not institute any league-wide change following the
death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock in a car crash. Hancock’s
blood-alcohol level was 0.157, nearly twice

Missouri’s legal limit of 0.08, and
following the accident some teams have moved to more restrictive policies on
alcohol in clubhouses and on charter flights.

“I
think the commissioner has made it clear that he views that as a club policy,
and that he has left it to the clubs to determine their policy,” DuPuy
said.

He also
spoke out against player interaction with heckling fans during games. Thus far
this season,

Cincinnati’s Ken Griffey Jr. autographed
an athletic supporter and threw it at a fan in

Los Angeles,
and

Toronto’s Vernon Wells threw an autographed
ball with a message to a fan in

Cleveland.

“It’s
inappropriate and won’t be condoned,” DuPuy said.

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