Pro baseball returns to Old Pueblo with shorter schedule

 

Kino_Veterans_Memorial_Stadium_Outfield_Grass
Fans sit on the outfield berm at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, which hosted Major League Baseball spring training games in the past. (Photo by Kino County Communications

Professional Mexican baseball will be back in the Old Pueblo for a second consecutive spring training, but with a more limited exhibition schedule, county officials said.

Toros de Tijuana, Rojos del Águila de Veracruz and Pericos de Puebla of Mexico’s Liga Mexicana de Béisbol will report to Kino Sports Complex at the end of February for a 30-day spring training camp — part of a continued partnership between organizers, M1 Baseball and the Pima County Stadium District.

“We are returning to Tucson to put in a full month of work,” Aaron Alcaraz, director of international operations for Toros de Tijuana, said in a press release published in Spanish on the team’s official website. “The team (Toros) was in the area last year and was able to take advantage of the excellent facilities.”

Local baseball fans shouldn’t expect a 12-game slate like in last year’s inaugural Mexican baseball spring training at Kino Sports Complex, which  included concessions and admission fees.

M1 Baseball, an association within Mexican baseball that coordinates games in the United States, has one exhibition game confirmed so far.

Toros de Tijuana and the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, The Round Rock Express, will square off at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium on March 12 at 6 p.m. in a game free to the public, Pima County Stadium District Director Reenie Ochoa said.

“Sometimes, it’s more cost-prohibitive for both the organizations who have to pay for ushers and ticket takers, than to just open the doors and let people in and enjoy baseball,” Ochoa said.

With funding help from M1 Baseball, the Mexican teams cover their own way in rental costs to use the Kino facilities, the county said.

Ochoa said M1 Baseball is working on adding more exhibition games this spring.

“Just because there isn’t a confirmed 12-game slate like there was last year doesn’t mean games won’t be available this time around,” Ochoa said.

“At this time we are going to be opening the gates and letting people come in and get the excitement and thrill of baseball back into the complex and the city of Tucson,” she said.

Nick Peppe is a reporter for The Tombstone Epitaph, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact him at npeppe@email.arizona.edu. 

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