Saturday, January 16, 2016

MLB to stage "Mexico City Series" in March

Major League Baseball will return to Mexico City for the first time in twelve springs when the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres play exhibition games March 26 and 27 at Estadio Fray Nano.

The series will be the third time the Padres have played in Mexico City after previous visits in 1971 and 1981.  The Southern California club has also had exhibition games in Tijuana and Hermosillo with two trips to Culiacan, and hosted a three-game regular season series with the New York Mets in 1996 in Monterrey, where they also opened the 1999 schedule against the Colorado Rockies at Estadio Monterrey.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow was born and raised in Mexico City.  "I'm thrilled that the Astros will have the opportunity to play in Mexico," Luhnow says.  "The Mexican people have a great love for baseball, so I know these games will be well-received."  Luhnow was joined at a press conference by Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve.  The two-game set between Houston and San Diego is being billed as the "Mexico City Series."  Both teams will send split squads due to concurrent spring training games in the States.

Estadio Fray Nano is home to the Mexico City Diablos Rojos.  MLB's last appearance in the Mexican capital was in 2004 when the Astros played two games with the Marlins at Foro Sol, which could hold 25,000 for baseball but was designed more for concerts and never a comfortable fit for baseball.  At 5,000 seats, Fray Nano is much smaller than Foro Sol, but much more hospitable to the King of Sports.  The Red Devils played at Foro Sol from 2000 through 2014 after longtime home Social Security Park was razed to make way for a shopping center.  A new Estadio Diablos Rojos, with seating for 13,000 plus an outfield grass berm holding 3,000 more, is targeted for a 2017 opening.

One MLB preseason game was played in Mexico last year when the Arizona Diamondbacks met Colorado on March 29 in Hermosillo.