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Chinese fans curious, confused

BEIJING — The vendors sold peanuts, hot dogs and tea. In leftfield, China's red flag unfurled alongside the Stars and Stripes. It was opening day for baseball in China on Saturday.

The Padres and Dodgers left the nearly sellout crowd of 12,224 at the new Olympic venue with an inconclusive outcome — a 3-3 tie in major-league baseball's first foray into China.

Most fans knew so little about the day's events that nobody booed when play was called after nine innings. "I had no idea what the players were doing, but it was fun to come here anyway, to see what it was all about," 24-year-old communications worker Yan Jun told the New York Times. "It was confusing but kind of interesting."

Angels: Ace right-hander John Lackey will be out 3-4 weeks with a right triceps strain. Lackey's injury, plus the shoulder injury to Kelvim Escobar, has left the door open for the final spot in the rotation. So top prospect Nick Adenhart might get a chance. Adenhart allowed three runs and four hits in four innings against the Diamondbacks.

Astros: Roy Oswalt threw six nearly perfect innings, allowing his only baserunner on an error during Houston's 15-6 victory over a Braves split squad. Oswalt, who struck out seven, wanted to reach about 80 pitches but had just 57 after six innings. He threw 20 pitches in the bullpen after leaving.

Blue Jays: Roy Halladay pitched five solid innings in a 4-1 win over the Pirates, allowing four hits with four strikeouts. He threw 44 of his 64 pitches for strikes. "I was a lot more aggressive and threw a lot more strikes early in the count," Halladay said. "I probably threw fewer cutters and curves than last time out."

Braves: John Smoltz pitched four scoreless innings before allowing five runs in the fifth as the Braves lost to the Rays 11-10. Carlos Pena hit a two-run homer off Smoltz, who said he is still playing around with new pitches. "I haven't tried to overthrow or make any perfect pitches," he said. "I did everything I had to do today, just like I did way back at the start of my career."

Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson, who missed most of the 2007 season with a herniated disc in his back that required offseason surgery, worked three innings in his second spring start and allowed only a solo homer to the Angels' Gary Matthews.

Mets: Former AL Cy Young winner Johan Santana, traded from Minnesota last month, had his first plate appearance of the spring and grounded out against Adam Wainwright in a 10-3 loss to the Cardinals. "At least I made contact," Santana said. On the mound, he gave up four runs — three earned — on five hits.

Phillies: Right-hander Adam Eaton, pitching for the first time in nine days after being diagnosed with a slight herniated disc in his back last week, struck out two and walked none in three scoreless innings during an 11-2 loss to the Twins. Eaton, who entered the day with a 15.75 ERA this spring, said, "It felt good to get out there and feel good, not only bodywise but stuffwise."

Red Sox: Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will travel to Tokyo on Wednesday now that his wife gave birth to their second child, their first son. Matsuzaka is expected to start one of the regular-season games March 25 or 26 against Oakland.

Yankees: General partner Hank Steinbrenner likes new manager Joe Girardi's first camp. "I think the players have the 'Eye of the Tiger' back," he said. "It's gone great." Meanwhile, starter Joba Chamberlain gave up three earned runs in three innings in an 11-7 split-squad win over Detroit in Lakeland. Chamberlain, who said one of his pitches hit 99 mph, gave up a first-inning homer to Curtis Granderson. "That's the first time I've let loose all year," Chamberlain said. "It feels good when your arm is back to where it should be."

>>AREA TEAMS

Blue Jays: Knology Park, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Game

tickets: (727) 733-9302 or bluejays.com.

Phillies: Bright House Field, 601 N. Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. Game tickets: (727) 467-4457 or phillies.com.

Yankees: Legends Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa. Game

tickets: (813) 879-2244 or ticketmaster.com.

Chinese fans curious, confused 03/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:40am]
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