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Dodgers have a history in Mexico

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Mexico National Team v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Dodgers and Padres begin a three-game series in Monterrey, Mexico on Friday night at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey, the first MLB regular season games in the ballpark since 1999.

Alex Verdugo is the only active player on the Dodgers of Mexican descent, with his grandfather born in Mexico. His parents will be at the weekend series to watch their son, who has impressed since his call-up last Saturday, going 6-for-17 (.353) with four doubles, plus two walks against only one strikeout in his 19 plate appearances.

Verdugo played for Mexico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Culiacan native Julio Urias will also make the trip, though more for ceremonial purposes as he is still on the 60-day disabled list as he rehabs from left shoulder surgery last season.

This is the first regular season trip to Mexico for the Dodgers, but not their first time playing in Monterrey. They played a pair of exhibition games in March 1991, including Mexican star Fernando Valenzuela pitching five innings against the Brewers on St. Patrick’s Day.

Valenzuela received a thunderous ovation from the crowd. From the LA Times game story:

“We knew Fernando’s importance to his country before we came down here, but to see it, to feel, to hear it . . . it was an extraordinary moment,” said Peter O’Malley, the Dodger owner who had a front row seat at Estadia Monterrey. “This is one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had since I’ve been with the ballclub.”

The 30-year-old Valenzuela, who averaged 32 starts, 233 innings and 174 strikeouts in his 10 full seasons with the Dodgers, was released 11 days later.

Now a broadcaster with the Dodgers, Valenzuela will throw out a ceremonial first pitch before Friday’s series opener.

The Dodgers have also made two other trips to Mexico for exhibition games, playing the Mexico City Red Devils in 1964 and battling the New York Mets before the 2003 season, both trips in Mexico City.

Weekend schedule

Friday: 6:10 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA, MLB Network)
Saturday: 4:10 p.m. (SportsNet LA, FS1)
Sunday: 1:10 p.m. (SportsNet LA, ESPN)