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Padres right at home in China

Padres right at home in China

BEIJING -- No sooner had the doors to the bullpen at Wukesong Stadium pushed open Saturday when San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman was greeted by a blast of familiarity.

"Hells Bells," anyone?

No, it wasn't PETCO Park and it wasn't the ninth inning. Heck, the Padres didn't even have the lead in Saturday's game against the Dodgers that ended in a 3-3 tie following nine innings.

But Hoffman, emerging from the bullpen, was caught off-guard when the music at the stadium blaring his entrance theme, made famous by AC/DC, as he trotted toward the mound.

"I didn't know if it was the real rendition or not," Hoffman said. "I didn't have any idea they were doing it. I don't think anyone [in the stadium] knew what was going on ... or what the song signified."

In some respects, the Padres felt at home Saturday, even if they were half a world away from their cozy digs in San Diego. They were, after all, playing baseball. That the game was played in China didn't faze them in the least.

If anything, the Padres left the field after the first of two exhibition games this weekend against the Dodgers with a greater appreciation for the knowledge the fans showcased during the game.

"I think you understood that it was a first, but once you get going it feels like baseball should," Hoffman said. "I think you forget you're 6,000 miles away from where you're used to playing."

That surprised the Padres, who certainly realized they were playing a game in front of a crowd of 12,224, many of whom who had never seen a professional baseball games in person or even on television.

"I sensed that once we got into the early stages of the game," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I could tell that the crowd was following the game. And like all baseball fans, they appreciate a hard-hit ball, a ball that goes a long way. I sensed the crowd did have an understanding and were into the game."

Right fielder Drew Macias didn't need convincing. He certainly got an earful from a fan during the game, a moment that reminded him that he might be a long way from where he normally plays, but that fans are still fans.

"Looking up in the stands, it looked like everyone was having fun, they were smiling," he said. "I still had an English heckler behind me. Probably the only guy who spoke English. But it was like a normal baseball game. They knew what was going on."

As for Hoffman, who spent his afternoon in the bullpen down the right-field line, he took in the sights and sounds from the crowd. PETCO Park or Beijing, after a while, it all was about the same.

"I think the biggest cheer was the first foul ball of the game," Hoffman said. "I think they were excited to get a souvenir and they were cheering to get souvenirs from then on out."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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