Spring Training in TUcson: Fans will get teams' real deal

2013-03-21T00:00:00Z Spring Training in TUcson: Fans will get teams' real dealDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

When the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks came to town Sunday for a spring training game, the rosters weren't exactly loaded with perennial big-leaguers.

That will change today when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs play at Kino Stadium at 1:05 p.m.

Both teams are expected to send several major-leaguers to the game, which will benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation.

The Dodgers have already said that all-stars Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier will play. Veteran big-leaguers A.J. Ellis, Mark Ellis, Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker are also planning to make the trip.

The Cubs will bring their stars, too: Shortstop Starlin Castro, who was an all-star last season, is expected to play in today's game. The same goes for first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who starred for the Tucson Padres in 2011.

"It's a sign of respect to the charity game," Tucson Padres general manager Mike Feder said. "Because of John Green and Dallas Green's connections to both organizations, the clubs have committed to sending some of their best players.

"The clubs deserve credit."

Here is a look at the four players we're most excited to see.

Matt Kemp

2012 season: 106 games, .303 batting average, 23 HRs, 69 RBIs and 74 runs.

Why we're excited: Kemp is one of the best all-around players in baseball. He's a two-time all-star who has won two Gold Gloves and in 2011, he led the National League in home runs (39), RBIs (126) and runs (115).

Tucson connection: Kemp has played at Kino Stadium a handful of times; last season, he launched a solo home run in the first inning of the team's spring training game against the Chicago White Sox.

Andre Ethier

2012 season: 149 games, .284 batting average, 20 HRs, 89 RBIs, 36 doubles.

Why we're excited: Like Kemp, Ethier is a two-time all-star, making the game in 2010 and 2011. He also won a Gold Glove in 2011 and a Silver Slugger Award in 2009.

Tucson connection: A former star at Arizona State, Ethier is no stranger to the Old Pueblo. In 2002, he led his Sun Devils to a series win over the Wildcats and had four hits in the clincher.

Anthony Rizzo

2012 season: 87 games, .285 batting average, 15 HRs, 48 RBIs, 96 hits.

Why we're excited: If you're a Tucson Padres fan, you already know why. Rizzo has light tower power and made a splash as a rookie with the Cubs last season. He's also coming off a strong showing in the World Baseball Classic with Italy.

Tucson connection: The best player in Tucson Padres franchise history, Rizzo hit 26 home runs and drove in 101 runs in just 93 games for the Triple-A club in 2011. He was then traded to the Cubs in the following offseason.

Starlin Castro

2012 season: 162 games, .283 batting average, 14 home runs, 78 RBIs, 25 SBs.

Why we're excited: Arguably the best shortstop in the National League, Castro has made the All-Star Game each of the past two seasons and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2010.

Tucson connection: We believe this is the first time Castro has played in Tucson as a professional. He was called up to the major leagues straight from Double-A, bypassing Triple-A.

Today

• What: Dodgers vs. Cubs

• Where: Kino Stadium

• When: 1:05 p.m.

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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