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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Baseball Starts Down New Road

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida -- The exhibition baseball season got into full swing with the replacement New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers opening to mixed reviews.


Thursday's games mark the first use of replacement players in recent baseball history. If talks remain stalled, the owners say they will use the substitutes in regular-season games.


A small crowd of 1,348 was on hand to watch the squads of has-beens, never-beens and minor leaguers as the Dodgers spoiled the home opener for the replacement Yankees by hammering them 11-3.


"It's something, which is better than nothing," said Nelson Schaefer, who was taking in the game with his infant son. "I'm enjoying myself. I've got my hot dog and my drink. It's just the same."


Schaefer did admit that the quality of the game reminded him of minor league baseball, saying that while the hitting was good, the pitching and the fielding were not up to par.


The star of the game was Dodger first baseman Jay Kirkpatrick, who hit two home runs, a single and a double.


"I guess it's about the same," Kirkpatrick said, comparing the play to the double-A minor league baseball he is used to.


The 25-year-old Floridian, who spent most of the 1994 season with the double-A San Antonio Missions, said he was not concerned that striking major leaguers have branded all who take part in games strike-breakers.


"I don't care what other people think, I just want to play ball," he said.


"I've played in one big league game [now] and that's every little kid's dream, to play in the big leagues. If I have to do it through a strike, then that's the way it's going to be. This is the closest I've gotten." Los Angeles manager Tommy Lasorda, who has been in the major leagues for 19 years, took some positive impressions away from Thursday's game.


"I was impressed with the way they swung the bat," Lasorda said. "I was impressed with the way they caught the ball. These guys have worked hard this spring, and you saw the result. It wasn't a sloppy game.


"There's a misconception here that these guys were out of shape, they're guys that haven't played in 10 years. That is not true," said Lasorda, whose team was composed mainly of minor leaguers.


Yankee manager Buck Showalter, whose squad includes a number of players hoping for a second chance at the big leagues, was far less impressed.


"We didn't play very well," Showalter said. "We walked a lot of people and we were a little sloppy. I'm open to suggestions."


Showalter did sound a slight note of qualified optimism.


"I've had worse nightmares. I've had lots worse. Hopefully, we'll get better."


The Yankees pitching was clearly not of major league caliber.


New York's starter was Frank Eufemia, who spent half a season with the Minnesota Twins in 1985 but has not played professionally since 1992.


The rust showed when the 35-year-old hurler self-destructed in the fourth inning, allowing five runs as the Dodgers batted around.


While Lasorda said he was disappointed at the poor turnout, Showalter said he respected the fans' right to stay away.


Bill Lamac, who said he has attended every Yankee spring opener since 1975, was not pleased with what he saw.


"The only reason we came is because some fellow was in the parking lot scalping tickets for half price," he said." This is a historic game. It's the season opener with no teams. A triple-A team would play much better than these guys."