It won’t take long for the Los Angeles Dodgers to find out how
their $215 million payroll stacks up against baseball’s elite.
They’ll test it out against the World Series champion San
Francisco Giants on Monday, when former Cy Young Award winner
Clayton Kershaw makes his third straight opening-day start against
“They are definitely the team to beat,” Kershaw said of the
Dodgers’ long-time rivals. “We can talk about it until we’re blue
in the face, but until we start winning some games and be in first
place for the majority of the season, there’s really not much we
can say about it.”
The oddsmakers favor the Dodgers to win their first NL West
crown since 2009, but Los Angeles knows its stiffest competition
may come from San Francisco.
“We’re pretty excited to be playing against the World Series
champs, and hopefully we can come out and play the game we know how
to play,” slugger Matt Kemp said. “It is a rivalry, but that’s
more for the fans, not for us. We’re just trying to beat every team
Cain is excited to get the opening-day start, regardless of
facing the Dodgers.
“It’d be just as memorable if it was against anybody,” he
The Giants enter the season with two World Series titles in
three years, and they return all their key players.
“I have to feel good about it because they did a good job last
year, they did a great job,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “To have
the same group back, sure, it’s made it easier for us. We knew who
we had and things they could do.”
San Francisco won the season series 10-8 last year and knocked
the Dodgers out of NL wild-card contention in the next-to-the-last
game of the regular season.
The Dodgers’ lineup will be missing a key component to start the
season. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez is on the 15-day disabled list,
retroactive to March 22, along with pitchers Chad Billingsley and
Scott Elbert. Pitcher Ted Lilly is on the 15-day DL, retroactive to
Ramirez is expected to be out two months while recovering from
right thumb surgery, with Justin Sellers getting the nod as his
Carl Crawford, recovering from elbow surgery, will start in left
field for the Dodgers. He’s one of the high-profile players who was
acquired in the middle of last season, along with Adrian Gonzalez,
Ramirez, starter Josh Beckett and closer Brandon League.
“He’s one of the most athletic guys in the game, and it’s good
to have him at the top of the lineup with his combination of speed
and power,” Kemp, who is coming off major shoulder surgery, said
about Crawford. “It’s never fun to face a guy that can take you
deep and steal a base as the first batter of the game.”
It’s the Dodgers’ first season opener under new ownership that
includes Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson.
While there have been a few updates in Los Angeles – not the
least of which is the $100 million invested into the major leagues’
third-oldest ballpark – the Giants immediately concentrated on not
breaking up their key contributors.
It started with bringing back lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt on a
three-year contract, then Angel Pagan for four years. Marco
Scutaro, the NL championship MVP, reached agreement on his
three-year deal a day after Pagan got his multiyear deal in
There are so many key returners for the Giants, who pulled off
remarkable rallies in the division series and NL championship
series before a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers to capture
another improbable championship.
The Giants on Thursday committed to keeping Bochy around as
well. He and general manager Brian Sabean had their contracts
extended through the 2016 season.
“The glory days of the franchise are now,” Giants President and
CEO Larry Baer said. “I think it’s important to acknowledge that
and pay tribute to the people who have done it, from the general
manager’s office to the manager’s office, to get us where we are
Buster Posey will look to build on his sensational comeback
season. He surprised most everybody in his first year back after
suffering season-ending leg and ankle injuries in a May 2011
collision at the plate.
“We really didn’t know how much we could use him,” Bochy said.
“With the job that he did winning the Most Valuable Player I’d say
he exceeded what we thought we might have in Buster in 2012 coming
off that injury. The credit goes to him in how hard he worked to
get himself back to that point.”