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07/29/2008 11:26 AM ET
Mets open state-of-the-art training academy in the Dominican Republic
International player development, training, education and community outreach highlight new Mets Dominican Baseball Academy initiatives in Boca Chica
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BOCA CHICA, Dominican Republic -- The New York Mets today announced the opening of their new, $8 million, state-of-the-art baseball training academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. Dominican President Leonel Fernandez and Dominican government leaders joined Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon and General Manager Omar Minaya at the ceremonial opening of the Mets Dominican Baseball Academy.

The 37-acre complex includes two regulation-size playing fields, one of them replicating the asymmetrical dimensions and wall height of Citi Field, the world-class home of the Mets opening in 2009, and the other featuring the first artificial turf infield installation in the Dominican Republic. The Mets Dominican Baseball Academy features: a half field and two bunting fields; two batting tunnels; four covered pitching mounds; a clubhouse, weight and training rooms; classrooms and a computer lab; administrative offices; general store; and accommodations with a dining hall, lounges, pool, tennis courts, and more. The new academy is home of the DSL Mets, the Mets Dominican Summer League affiliate, and replaces the franchise's previous facility located in San Cristobal.

"The opening of the Mets Dominican Baseball Academy is the next step in our baseball operations player development efforts," said Wilpon. "We expect our new academy to become a destination facility for talented athletes to learn - on the field and off it - through competition and education."

"Our new academy will help us attract, sign, and foster the development of the best baseball talent in the Dominican Republic and Latin America," said Minaya. "A state-of-the-art venue, comprehensive training, and intense competition are at the foundation of our new home in Boca Chica with the goal of nurturing talent through our minor league system to hopefully play with the Mets at Citi Field."

The opening of the Mets Dominican Baseball Academy includes a community outreach component with the launch of an annual glove distribution program in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Conn. The Mets and the Esperanza Foundation this week are delivering gloves collected in May during Michael J. Biondi Memorial Baseball Glove Drive to youngsters in the community of Gautier and other communities. In the weeks ahead, the Mets Foundation will announce details regarding the distribution of $100,000 in funds raised last fall to support the Tropical Storm Noel relief effort.

The Mets have six Dominican players on their active roster: Luis Castillo, Pedro Martinez, José Reyes, Duaner Sanchez, Fernando Tatis and Argenis Reyes.

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