The Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants play each other 17
times, and Clayton Kershaw figures there’s no better time than the
season opener for Los Angeles to measure itself against the World
The 23-year-old left-hander starts Thursday night against Tim
Lincecum and the Giants, who dominated the headlines long after the
Dodgers’ season ended without a playoff appearance.
”Obviously, they’re the team to beat,” Kershaw said. ”But
this year is a brand new year and there are a lot of expectations
with every team coming in, and the Giants are just one more team
we’ve got to beat.”
The Giants will have to wait until their second home game on
April 9 to receive their championship rings. But just knowing their
bitter rivals have a World Series title to celebrate is annoying
enough to many Dodger fans.
”With the history, sure it’s going to be (hyped up),” Giants
manager Bruce Bochy said. ”With the two clubs, it goes way back. I
actually look forward to how it’s going to go. It should be very
Thursday’s game is the first of seven meetings between the teams
in the first two weeks of the season.
”It’s going to be a tough series no matter what,” Dodgers
outfielder Andre Ethier said. ”It always is between these two
teams, and it’s something where a lot of emotion and a lot of
energy fills the ballpark because it’s the Dodgers-Giants
The Giants will be without two of their top players to start the
season. All-Star closer Brian Wilson is on the disabled list
because of a strained oblique, while Cody Ross, their best hitter
during the playoffs, has a strained calf.
For the Dodgers, fifth-starter Jon Garland (oblique), third
baseman Casey Blake (back), catcher Dioner Navarro (oblique) and
pitcher Vicente Padilla (arm surgery) are on the DL.
Kershaw got the opening day nod a year after starting the
Dodgers’ home opener.
”It’s an exciting opportunity, but at the same time, you try to
keep it in perspective,” he said. ”It’s one of 162 games, so it’s
just a matter of getting the season rolling.”
He’ll be facing off against Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young
”It’s always tough, and it’s going to be a battle that first
day,” Ethier said. ”But you’ve got to beat them all. Whether it’s
the first game or later on, you’re going to face him sometime, so
you’ve got to go out there and give it your best shot. I guess it
would be a confidence boost if you knock him off. If not, you pick
yourself back up and figure out a way to get them the next
New Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is more focused on his team
than the Giants.
”I’m worried about us and how good we play, and how close we
can get to playing our best baseball 162 times,” he said.
The former Yankees star begins his first managerial job as the
successor to Joe Torre, who retired at 70 after three seasons in
Los Angeles. Mattingly, who turns 50 next month, is carrying plenty
of lessons learned from his old boss.
”I’d like to say I’m as calm as Joe, but it’s hard to be as
calm as Joe,” he said. ”But I’ve always been similar in the fact
that, as a coach, you’re always paying attention to your guys
because every little movement in their body language tells you
something about what’s going on with them. I just kind of take down
notes as the game goes on if things are bothering me and I write
During pre-game ceremonies, Placido Domingo will sing the
national anthem and ”The Phantom of the Opera” singer Davis
Gaines will perform ”God Bless America.”
There will be a moment of silence for those affected by the
earthquake and tsunami in Japan. A giant U.S. flag will be unfurled
followed with a flyover by a B-2 bomber.
Kershaw said Wednesday that he will donate $100 for each of his
strikeouts during the season to Arise Africa, a nonprofit dedicated
to ending poverty there. He was fifth in the NL last season with
Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, visited Zambia during the offseason
and helped build a school and visited with orphans. They hope to
raise $70,000 to start an orphanage there. He signed a one-year
deal worth $500,000 in the offseason.
AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed
to this report.