Youth players get special day at Dodger Stadium

Play Ball Weekend event includes lessons from Gonzalez, Roberts

Youth players get special day at Dodger Stadium

LOS ANGELES -- Dodger Stadium hosted a few more players on the field than usual before Sunday's game vs. the Cardinals, welcoming over 7,000 local Little League players for a pregame parade.

For an hour, kids with their families and coaches walked along the field's track, taking pictures and peeks into the dugout.

The parade was just one of several youth-oriented events that took place around Los Angeles over the weekend as the Dodgers took part in Major League Baseball's Play Ball Weekend.

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Play Ball Weekend is an extension of the Play Ball initiative, which launched in 2015 as the sport's largest effort to encourage widespread participation in both formal and casual baseball and softball activities.

The Manhattan Beach Little League team in particular received some special pregame lessons from members of the Dodgers organization. Adrian Gonzalez gave instruction on fielding at first base, while manager Dave Roberts gave the team a lecture on how to develop their games.

"[For pitchers], you've got to get that fastball command down first," Roberts said. "When your pitcher is locating to the glove side, that means all the mechanics are in sync."

Manhattan Beach LL takes in game

On Saturday, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner surprised the Boys & Girls Club of Venice with a game of beach baseball, which culminated in a massive pinch-hit blast from Turner with Puig pitching.

"I think I had more fun than some of them did," said Turner. "I think the message here is to encourage kids to get outside and be active. Maybe in the future, they will organize some little games like this on their own so they can come out and get out of the house, get out from behind the computer screen and the iPad."

To increase awareness of the program, players on the Dodgers and Cardinals, along with the rest of the Majors, warmed up in Play Ball T-shirts and sported commemorative patches on their uniforms for both games during the weekend.

Special attention was also made for the Dodgers RBI partner organizations Sunday, as members of the organizations took part in on-field pregame recognitions, the managers' lineup exchange and the proclamation of "It's time for Dodger baseball" to begin the game.

Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.