Padres eager to play Astros in Mexico City

Green feels atmosphere at Fray Nano will seem like regular-season baseball

Padres eager to play Astros in Mexico City

PEORIA, Ariz. -- After a few weeks of Spring Training, the Padres are looking forward to a break from the monotony and grind of the Cactus League.

And the two-game exhibition series against the Astros -- Saturday and Sunday in Mexico City at Estadio Fray Nano, the home of the Diablos Rojos del Mexico -- will be anything but a typical spring contest.

"I think the atmosphere that we're expecting down there is going to make it feel like a regular-season baseball game," Padres manager Andy Green said.

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In an extensive effort to grow the game, the "Mexico City Series" will be the first time Major League Baseball is played in Mexico since 2004 and will come just days after the Rays played a historic game in Cuba against the Cuban National Team.

"Fans are from everywhere, they're not just from the U.S., so it's neat to be able to play in front of different fans," said Cory Spangenberg, who will be visiting Mexico for the first time. "I think they appreciate the game as much as U.S. citizens."

Fray Nano seats roughly 4,500 people, but will have an expanded capacity of roughly 8,000 for the contests.

While the Padres have yet to reveal their entire roster for the Mexico City trip, Green has unveiled a few names.

Spangenberg, Yangervis Solarte, Jon Jay and Alexei Ramirez will be among those making the trip, while Puebla, Mexico, native Cesar Vargas will start one of the two games on the mound.

"I think it'll be good to get out of Arizona and play somewhere else, and I think everyone's excited about it," Spangenberg said.

The trip is certain to be a memorable experience, but it is still a business trip for the players.

Spangenberg wants to enjoy his brief time in Mexico, but also knows he needs to get ready for the season.

"Definitely going to appreciate it, just seeing this Cuba game. I think it's going to be a great atmosphere," Spangenberg said. "But at the same time, it's another Spring Training game. You're there to work on stuff to try and get ready for the season."

And even if the games don't count in the standings, the Padres' goals are simple. The club wants to win.

"We're going to compete to win those games," Green said.

• Padres right-hander James Shields was struck with a line drive in the left hamstring during Monday night's win over the Reds, but he came out of the incident unscathed -- except for a "nice bruise," Green said.

"We spent some time in the training room last night, kind of laughing about it," the skipper said. "He's a magnet for the baseball sometimes, but he's as tough as any guy I've been around."

Travis Jankowski left Tuesday's 17-5 win against the Rangers in the bottom of the third with a left-ankle contusion sustained after being hit by a Colby Lewis pitch. Jankowski went from first to third on Spangenberg's double and left the game immediately after as he had to be assisted to the dugout.

William Boor is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.