Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches during a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park April 29, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo : Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
After 12 long years, Major League Baseball will finally come back to Mexico City. A couple of spring games will be played between the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros in March 2016.
The announcement was made by Mexico City mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, Fox Sports reported. MLB has not had any games in the Mexican capital since March 2004. The last game was played by the Astros and Miami Marlins in an exhibition series consisting of two games.
“I’m thrilled that the Astros will have the opportunity to play games in Mexico. The Mexican people have a great love for baseball, so I know these games will be very well received,” Jeff Luhnow, Astros general manager said. Luhnow himself was born and raised in Mexico City.
The Padres last had a Spring Training contest in Mexico in 2002, against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It will be the seventh time that the Padres will have a Spring Training trip in Mexico. The team first joined in Mexico City exhibition games in 1972. San Diego played three regular season games against the New York Mets in Monterrey in 1996, and a regular season opener against the Colorado Rockies in 1999.
On Mar. 29, 2015, Mexico was host to an exhibition match between the Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. The game was held in Hermosillo, Sonora. It will be the 10th time that the Diamondbacks get to play in Hermosillo.
The 2016 games are the result of a collaboration among MLB, the Mexico City mayor’s office and the MLB Players Association, with the objective of promoting the sport in the country. The Padres and Astros will play with split squads. Some of the Astros will remain in Florida to play the Marlins and Detroit Tigers.
"As we further strengthen the relationship between MLB and Mexico, it is our hope that we can continue to present our game and its bright young stars to the fans of our southern neighbor for years to come,” Luhnow continued in a Reuters report.
Dan Halem, MLB chief legal officer, previously told Chron that Mexico is their priority in developing the baseball market further. The goal of the commissioner is to be able to play regular season games in Mexico and Europe in the next five years. The issue is subject to collective bargaining.
The upcoming exhibition series will happen on March 26 to 27 at Estadio Fray Nano. The venue can accommodate about 5,000 people and functions as the home of the Red Devils of the Mexican Baseball League.