We are still seeing changes in the 2016 spring training schedule, with two games between the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres added for Mexico City and the chance the Tampa Bay Rays will play two games in Havana.
First, what we know: the San Diego Padres and the Houston Astros will play a pair of spring training games at Fray Nano in Mexico City, Mexico on March 26-27. These will be the first MLB games in Mexico City since 2004.
The Padres, who last appeared in Mexico for a spring training contest against the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002 at Hermosillo, will be making their seventh spring training trip south of the border. San Diego also participated in exhibition games at Mexico City in 1972 and 1981; at Tijuana in 1982; and at Culiacan in 1997 and 2001. In addition, the Padres played three regular season contests in Monterrey against the New York Mets in 1996, as well as the 1999 regular season opener against the Colorado Rockies.
The Astros will return to Mexico after appearing in the last MLB games played in Mexico City — a two-game series against the Florida Marlins in 2004. Houston has also participated in international contests in the Dominican Republic (2000) and Venezuela (2001).
“Major League Baseball is thrilled to be back in Mexico City, and we are particularly excited to showcase two of our Clubs that play in such close proximity to Mexico,” said MLB Chief Operating Officer Tony Petitti. “As we further strengthen the relationship between MLB and Mexico, it is our hope that we can continue to present our game and its bright young stars to the fans of our southern neighbor for years to come.”
“All citizens of Mexico City are excited to welcome Major League Baseball back to our market,” said Mayor Miguel Mancera. “These games mark the latest step in our positive partnership with Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, which started last year with the historic Home Run Derby on the Zocalo. Hosting big events and sporting competitions help generate awareness of Mexico City as a tourism destination and generate new economic opportunities for our great city.”The two-game series will be the first MLB games at Fray Nano, which is the current home of the Diablos Rojos del Mexico. Foro Sol, the previous home of the Diablos Rojos, had served as the host of MLB Spring Training games in 2001, 2003 and 2004, as well as opening round action for the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Now, what we do not know. MLB issued a press release about the spring training schedule — don’t get excited, as it’s wrong right off the bat with the incorrect start date (first game is Feb. 28, not Feb. 29) and totally omitting the Phillies’ opener — but there continues to be a window in the Rays’ schedule, with nothing slated for March 28-30. What we’re being told is that the plans are not settled for a potential two-game series between the Rays and the Cuban National Team for March 29-30. That could change, but it would be surprising if the Cuban games don’t happen: Multiple teams adjusted their schedules for the week of March 27 to accommodate the Rays games.