Dodgers, D'backs to open 2014 season in Australia

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will open the 2014 regular season with a two-game series in Australia.

The two teams, who were involved in a benches-clearing fracas Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, will play at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 22-23, 2014.

The announcement came from the Premier of New South Wales, Barry O'Farrell, at a press conference in Sydney.

It will be the first Major League Baseball games played in Australia. MLB has previously opened seasons in Monterrey, Mexico (1999); Tokyo, Japan (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012); and San Juan, Puerto Rico (2001).

Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of exhibition games played by the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants at the same sports venue where the 2014 two-game series will be staged.

"The globalization of our game continues to be paramount to Major League Baseball, and Australia is an essential part of our long-term efforts to grow the sport," MLB commissioner Bud Selig said. "We look forward to writing an exciting new chapter in international baseball history at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground next March."

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will play spring training contests in Arizona on Sunday, March 16th before departing that night and landing in Sydney on the morning of March 18th. The first contest on March 22nd will be in the evening and the finale of the series will take place in the afternoon.

"The players are excited about opening the 2014 season in Sydney, and they view this series as an important step in furthering their commitment to help increase the global popularity of baseball," said MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner. "We thank the Australian Baseball Federation and fans for welcoming us to their country. We anticipate the 2014 Opening Series in Sydney will prove to be a memorable experience for players and fans alike."

There have been 31 major leaguers all-time from Australia, including current Dodgers reliever Peter Moylan.

The Diamondbacks will serve as the home team for both games.