MLB will play regular-season games in Mexico for first time in 19 years

Adrian Gonzalez and the Dodgers will play a regular-season series in Mexico this season. (AP)

For the first time since 1999, Major League Baseball will play regular-season games in Mexico in 2018, the league announced Monday. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres will meet in a three-game series in Monterrey, Mexico from May 4-7 at Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey.

MLB has made expansion out of the U.S. a priority in recent years, and while this isn’t as drastic as playing in Australia, for instance, it’s still a departure from baseball’s norm. MLB teams last played in Mexico in 2016, but that was the Padres and Astros playing exhibition games in Mexico City.

The Padres were also part of the 1999 International Opening Day, which was the last time regular-season games were played in Mexico. In all, this will be the third time the Padres have played in Monterrey. The Dodgers last played internationally in 2014, when they met the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia.

Execs and players from both teams expressed their excitement about playing in Mexico, including the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, who is the most successful Mexican-bred MLB player in recent history:

“As a team with a bi-national fan base and reach that extends into Baja California and throughout Mexico, we are excited to once again play regular season games in Monterrey and help grow the popularity of our great game,” said Padres COO Erik Greupner. “Baseball fans in Mexico are passionate about the game and we look forward to deepening our connection with them.”

“The Dodgers are excited and extremely proud to be returning to Mexico as a team for the fourth time in our history,” Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten said. “These games will also mark the first time that the Dodgers are playing regular season contests in Mexico, something long overdue, given our rich player history and strong community ties to the country. The Dodgers have always been at the forefront of growing the game of baseball internationally and this trip reinforces this commitment, while at the same time giving our many fans in Mexico a chance to see us compete.”

“I’m extremely excited about returning home to Mexico to play a series against my former team, the Padres,” said Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Born in the U.S. and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Adrian added, “This series will be memorable for all involved, as we visit Monterrey to repay the baseball fans in Mexico for their never-ending support of the game we all love.”

“We look forward to playing in Mexico in front of some of the most passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans in the world. Both teams have a strong following south of the border and we anticipate a very warm and spirited reception when we visit Monterrey,” said Padres first baseman Wil Myers.

Gonzalez’s involvement will hinge on him still being a member of the Dodgers. He’s under contract until the end of 2018, but injuries kept him sidelined at the end of the 2017 season. He wasn’t on the Dodgers’ postseason roster and even left the team for a while to help his wife move to Italy. So his spot in a May 2018 series — even if it’s in his home country — isn’t exactly a sure thing.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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