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Dodgers Veteran Has Mixed Thoughts on Starting MLB Regular Season Abroad

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It’s hard to feel sympathy for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their front office has committed more than $1.3 billion in future contract obligations since the end of the 2023 season, and are better positioned than any Major League Baseball team to win a championship in 2024.

As one of the MLB’s marquee franchises with star power up and down the lineup, the Dodgers figure to be a prominent part of the league’s marketing efforts this year and beyond. Sometimes, that means the Dodgers will have to take their talents abroad.

The team began its 2024 regular season on March 20-21 with a pair of games against the San Diego Padres. Reportedly, the Dodgers and Chicago Cubs have been selected to start the 2025 regular season in Tokyo.

An international game in Canada is one thing; U.S.-based teams regularly cross the border to play the Toronto Blue Jays all the time. Even games in Mexico are less taxing for West Coast-based teams than cross-country flights to the Eastern time zone.

Regular season series in Asia are a different beast. The Dodgers’ flight from Phoenix to Seoul lasted 14 hours. Yet such trips could become an annual habit for the Dodgers, who possess two of the best Asian-born players in baseball history: two-way star Shohei Ohtani and pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million contract — the most lucrative in sports history — with the Dodgers last December. Later that month Yamamoto signed a 12-year, $325 million contract, the largest ever for a pitcher.

Chris Taylor Miguel Rojas
Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammate Miguel Rojas #11 after hitting a solo home run in the 7th inning during the exhibition game between Team Korea and Los Angeles Dodgers…


Masterpress/Getty Images

Veteran shortstop Miguel Rojas sounded off on the toll each trip takes in a recent interview on the Chris Rose Rotation.

“I feel like we have no say on that,” Rojas told Rose. “I feel like MLB and the organization are going to do things that are the best for the sport. And what they think is expanding baseball, putting them in a different part of the world … I think that’s a great thing, but sometimes the players are the ones who are suffering. A really long flight, the jet lag, the things you have to get ready to start the season when you’re not supposed to be starting the season just yet, you know? Other teams are still getting ready, still preparing. You’ve got two starters forcing themselves to get ready maybe a week and a half before the season is starting.”

Starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow fared well in his regular season debut March 20, limiting the Padres to two runs over five innings. But Yamamoto was hammered for five runs in one inning the next day, a 15-11 loss.

Rojas doesn’t believe starting the season abroad was fair to either pitcher.

“Glasnow, for example, he was throwing his Dodger debut not in L.A., where he’s supposed to be throwing his first start in front of his family and all that,” Rojas said. “He’s doing it in South Korea. Those are things as a professional player you have to do because that’s your job and you have to do whatever the organization is telling you to do, but at the end of the day it’s a little hard for us to be getting used to something like that, like flying overseas and playing all the way over there just for two games for the regular season, and then coming back.”

The Dodgers won their domestic opener Thursday, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1.