PLAY BALL Park open for SD youngsters to enjoy

All-Star Youth Classic taking place at area fields through Monday

PLAY BALL Park open for SD youngsters to enjoy

SAN DIEGO -- On a sunny afternoon at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Major League Baseball held the opening ceremony for PLAY BALL Park and the All-Star Youth Classic.

PLAY BALL Park is an 80,000-square-foot outdoor space for various programming partners to provide fun, engaging and educational activities for youth baseball and softball players and their families -- all in the backdrop of the Midsummer Classic.

Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard will take place at Petco Park, with coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. PT on FOX.

PLAY BALL Park opened on Thursday and will be open through Tuesday free of charge.

Five-year-old J.J. Zborowski took full advantage, using his father, Jeff, as his own personal PFP (pitcher's fielding practice) machine. J.J. showed off a strong left-handed arm while firing throws toward his father. Seemingly every time Jeff made contact, J.J. was right on the ball, ready to throw him out at first base.

The Zborowskis are Padres season-ticket holders and found out about PLAY BALL Park online. Since they'll be attending each and every one of the All-Star game events this weekend, they weren't going to miss out on the opening of PLAY BALL Park.

"We didn't know exactly what the day's events were going to be, so we just got out here as long as we could, and we've been here about an hour," Jeff said.

In addition to opening the Park, David James, MLB's vice president of youth programs, welcomed 12 youth baseball and softball teams who will be taking part in the All-Star Youth Classic. Formerly known as the Jr. RBI Classic, the round-robin tournament is taking place at the Robb Field Complex at Ocean Beach through Monday. Each of the players will also be participating in different All-Star week events.

Tom Seidler, part of the Padres ownership group, welcomed the teams to San Diego and mentioned how nice it was to have something like PLAY BALL Park within walking distance of Petco: "To have a ballpark here on the bayfront is really spectacular."

To wrap up the day, each of the players took part in three baseball/softball drills led by members of the USA baseball coaching staff: hitting on the PLAY BALL Park field, hitting in the cages and a throwing drill.

PLAY BALL is a joint initiative between MLB, USA Baseball and USA Softball that encourages participation in formal and casual baseball and softball activities, while simultaneously working to give kids the opportunity to enjoy the game in a welcoming environment or experience it for the first time.

Essentially, it's all about getting out there -- like J.J. -- and playing ball.

On Tuesday, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 87th All-Star Game, in San Diego, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Carlos Collazo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @CarlosACollazo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.