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Updated: February 24, 2018
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Henk Seppen)

First Dutch players in action in Major League Spring Training

TAMPA / FORT MYERS / PORT ST. LUCIE / WEST PALM BEACH / SARASOTA / DUNEDIN, Florida / GOODYEAR / PHOENIX / MESA / SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (USA) - On Friday (February 23), the Major League Spring Training-season officially opened with 15 games on the schedule. Eight games were played in the Grapefruit League (Florida), the others in the Cactus League (Arizona).

28 of the 30 Major League-teams got into action today. The lone two teams not to play were Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. They will open on Saturday.

During their first official Spring Training-game, the players of all 30 teams will wear caps with a special logo of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to show support for the Parkland-community in Florida and the students of the high school after the tragic shooting at the school on February 14. Seventeen people were killed in the shooting. The caps will be signed and auctioned to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the fund for the victims.

...Curtis Granderson in 2013...
...during the European Big...
...League Tour in the Netherlands...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
36-year old veteran Curtis Granderson was the first player to hit a homerun in this years Spring Training-season. The outfielder, who finished last season playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was signed in the off-season by the Toronto Blue Jays. On Friday-afternoon, he led off the game for Toronto against the Philadelphia Phillies and homered off of starting pitcher Nick Piretta in his first at bat for the Canadian club. Toronto won the game in Dunedin, 2-1. In 2013, Granderson was one of the Major League-players who participated in the European Big League Tour in the Netherlands, which was organized by Dutch professional pitcher Rick van den Hurk.

The first players with a Dutch passport also got into action for the first time on Friday. When Spring Training started, there were eleven Dutch players with a Major League-team, being Ozzie Albies, Ray-Patrick Didder (both Atlanta Braves), Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox), Didi Gregorius (New York Yankees), Kenley Jansen, Shawn Zarraga (both Los Angeles Dodgers), Spencer Kieboom (Washington Nationals), Jurickson Profar (Texas Rangers), Jonathan Schoop (Baltimore Orioles), Andrelton Simmons (Los Angeles Angels) and Chadwick Tromp (Cincinnati Reds).

Albies, Bogaerts, Gregorius, Jansen, Profar Schoop and Simmons are all on the 40-man roster of their respective club. The others are so-called non-roster players. Zarraga was signed to a minor league-contract by the Dodgers on January 17 and was invited for Spring Training. Tromp, Didder and Kieboom were invited for Spring Training as a non-roster player on January 22, January 26 and February 13, respectively.

The first Dutch player to get into action was Didi Gregorius, a minute later followed by Xander Bogaerts and five minutes after that, Ozzie Albies. Later in the afternoon, Ray-Patrick Didder and Spencer Kieboom also played.

Jansen, Schoop, Simmons, Tromp and Zarraga didn't play today in the first game of their team. At Sarasota, the Orioles lost 6-3 against a split-team of Tampa Bay Rays, at Goodyear, the Reds won 6-4 against Cleveland Indians, at Phoenix, the Dodgers won 13-5 vs. Chicago White Sox and at Mesa, the Angels lost 9-8 vs. Oakland Athletics. Texas (Profar) had no game scheduled.

Another Dutchman also was active on Friday. That was Henley Meulens, who made his debut as Bench Coach of the San Francisco Giants. Since 2010, Meulens had been the Hitting Coach of the Giants. Playing at home against Milwaukee Brewers in Scottsdale, the Giants lost 6-5.

(February 23)

Related Article:
Major League Spring Training-season opens. (February 21)

...Didi Gregorius...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
At Tampa, New York Yankees trailed 1-0 against Detroit Tigers, but turned the game at George M. Steinbrenner Field its way by scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to win 3-1. With that, Aaron Boone won his first game in his managerial debut for the Yankees. Boone, who has never managed a team before, succeeded Joe Girardi in December.

Amsterdam-born Didi Gregorius batted fifth, started as short stop for the Yankees and was 0-for-2. Gregorius led off the second inning for the Yankees and then grounded out. In the fourth, Aaron Hicks led off with a walk and advanced when Gregorius again grounded out. Hicks later stranded on third base.

In the top of the fifth inning, Gregorius was replaced by Tyler Wade.

New York got the bases loaded in the sixth, then scored the tying run on a grounder by Jake Cave. Hereafter, a single by Jorge Saez accounted for two runs and a 3-1 lead.

Giancarlo Stanton made his debut in a Yankee-uniform. Stanton, who was the National League MVP last year, was 0-for-1 and walked, hitting second and being the starting rightfielder. Aaron Judge, the other powerhitter in the Yankee line-up, didn't play today.

...Xander Bogaerts...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
At Fort Myers, Boston Red Sox nipped Minnesota Twins 4-3. Boston took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Minnesota got one run back in the seventh, but Boston added another run in the eighth. In the top of the ninth, the Twins scored twice, but ended up short at jetBlue Park at Fenway South, the Spring Training-home of the Red Sox.

Xander Bogaerts batted second for Boston and was the starting short stop. The player from Aruba was 0-for-1 and scored once.

In the bottom of the first inning, Bogaerts struckout, but he led off with a walk in the fourth inning. With two outs, he advanced to third base on a double by Blake Swihart, then scored the first Boston-run on a following double by Jeremy Barfield that also brought in Swihart. Barfield later scored the third run in the at bat on a single by Ivan De Jesus, Jr..

In the top of the fifth inning, Bogaerts was replaced as short stop by Taiwanese Tzu-wei Lin.

At Port St. Lucie, the New York Mets won its Spring Training home-opener against Atlanta Braves with a 6-2 score, but was outhit 7-5. At First Data Field, Ozzie Albies was the lead-off hitter and starting second baseman for Atlanta. The Curaçao-born infielder was 1-for-3 and was replaced by a player from Aruba, Ray-Patrick Didder.

Last year, Albies made his debut in the Major League. He then played in 57 games for the Braves and batted .286 (62-for-217) with six homeruns and 28 RBI's. This is the fourth consecutive year that Albies is in Major League Spring Training.

Albies led off the game in the first inning with a single off of starter Zack Wheeler He then stole second base, but was left behind, as the next three hitters were eliminated (two strikeouts). In the third inning, Albies struckout against reliever Jacob Rhame.

In the top of the fifth, Atlanta took an 1-0 lead on a single by Alex Jackson. With runners on first and second base, Albies flied out and the two hitters grounded out to end the at bat.

In the bottom of the sixth, Didder took over at second base from Albies. He got his lone at bat in the seventh and then struckout. Didder made his Spring Training-debut last year and then played in nine games.

At West Palm Beach, World Series-champion Houston Astros opened the Spring Training-season with a 3-2 win against Washington Nationals. The two teams share a facility in Florida and the game was played at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. The new stadium was opened last year as The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, but was renamed recently when the two teams signed a 12-year deal for the naming rights to the stadium with Fitteam, a firm which is located in Palm Beach Gardens.

Houston opened the score in the bottom of the third inning when Max Stassi hit a 2-run homerun. Washington came alongside in the top of the fifth on runscoring singles by Chris Dominguez and José Marmolejos. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Spencer Kieboom took over the catching for the Nationals and Brady Dragmire became the new pitcher. J.D. Davis then led off for Houston with a homerun to make it 3-2 in its favor.

Kieboom got his lone at bat in the seventh inning and the grounded out.

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