Spring training under way in Tucson - The Explorer: Sports

Spring training under way in Tucson

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Posted: Saturday, March 24, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 5:16 pm, Wed Mar 28, 2012.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners met at the Kino Sports Complex on March 16, marking the first of  three spring training games to be played at the stadium this year. On Friday, March 23, the Chicago White Sox will square off against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the proceeds of the game going toward the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation.

Nine-year-old Green was killed during former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ Congress on Your Corner event at a local Safeway on Jan. 8, 2011.

“It’s good to know my money will be going toward a good cause,” said Gerald Conroy, one of about 6,000 fans to make the trip to the stadium. “It’s a terrible thing that happened, but it’s the good deeds like this that make Tucson such a great place to live.”

Conroy and his wife, Karen, brought their two young children, Lindsey and Tyler, to spring training for the first time last year. The family enjoyed the outing so much they decided to return this year, and will be attending the game on the March 23 as well.

“It’s a good little getaway,” Karen said. “The kids get a little rowdy when they’re cooped up in the house for too long, so we try to get them out for things like this. They really seem to enjoy it, even though their favorite team is the Diamondbacks.”

The Diamondbacks, who previously trained at the Kino Sports Complex with the Chicago White Sox, have since resumed training in Phoenix.

“I think there’s enough to do here to where the team doesn’t matter so much,” Karen said.

Indeed, the stadium features all the necessities to keep both adults and children entertained.

Popular with children was a Zero Gravity bungee devise, allowing kids to flip in the air with bungee supports and an inflated mat beneath them.

In addition to the ball game, a good lunch can be enjoyed, as hamburgers and hot dogs are continuously grilled, and in the spirit of baseball, peanuts, popcorn, sunflower seeds and refreshments are readily available.

Mariners fans Raul Espinosa and his wife Isabel drove from Phoenix to make the game.

“We’re ridiculously big fans of the Mariners,” said Raul, who grew up in Seattle. “There was no way we were missing this game. Weather’s too nice, and my team was too close not to come.”

Much to the pleasure of the Espinosas, Seattle won the game 6-1, taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the third, aided by a two-run homerun by Alex Liddi.

The Mariners would finish as strongly as they started, only allowing one run from the Brewers’ Caleb Gindl in the fourth inning. Mariners’ pitcher Felix Hernandez was spot-on with his pitching, striking out six batters in the game. The Brewers, who were playing a split-squad game against the Kansas City Royals in Surprise, played the Mariners without any of their regular position players.

“It’s good to have spring training stay in Tucson,” said Henry Moore, a retired Tucson resident. “I’m a big baseball fan, and keeping it local is a big convenience. We’re pretty lucky to have such a nice field here to accommodate these teams.”

Tickets for spring training games can be purchased on ticketreturn.com.

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