Despite the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers began their regular season last weekend, Thursday brings the first of a three-game exhibition set with the Los Angeles of Anaheim. The oddity in the schedule may seem a bit of a nuisance, but in actuality, it comes at an opportune time for the Dodgers. Not only will the three games aid in the Dodgers’ process acclimating themselves to once again playing at night in the pacific time zone, but it’ll also serve as an opportunity for some to get in final work before their regular season debuts.
One such player is Zack Greinke, who starts Thursday’s game. Greinke was limited in Spring Training after he suffered a right calf strain four pitches into his first spring start. The injury potentially altered the Dodgers’ plans for the Opening Series, as Greinke’s unavailability likely resulted in Clayton Kershaw making a start. Whether or not Kershaw would have made the trip to Sydney is unknown, but he’s now dealing with inflammation in his back and was scratched from Sunday’s regular season start.
Initially, Greinke seemed like a candidate to start in place of Kershaw, but Mattingly decided to stick with the plan of allowing his right-hander to pitch a final tune-up ahead of Greinke’s regular season debut on Tuesday. Thursday will be an important start for Greinke, who reported feeling 100 percent physically and is focused on increasing his pitch count.
Also back with the team is Carl Crawford, who was placed on the paternity list and also didn’t travel to Sydney. Crawford played in Minor League games during his time at Camelback Ranch, fighting off a shoulder tweak to go 3 for 3 with a home run in a game against the Cincinnati Reds.
Hector Santiago takes the mound for the Angels, making his fifth preseason start. Entering his first season with the Angels, Santiago last pitched on March 17 against the San Francisco Giants. Santiago appeared in 34 games last season, starting 23 of them, as a member of the Chicago White Sox. The 26-year-old left-hander has a career 8-10 record and 3.41 ERA. Dodger hitters will be tested by Santiago, who struck out 19 in four spring starts. Averaging 4.75 strikeouts per game through spring was an increase on his 2013 season average of 4.02 per game.
The 7:10 p.m. start at Dodger Stadium can be seen on Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet LA, which is still stricken by limited availability. Fortunately for fans whose cable providers have yet to pick up the network, the game will also be broadcast on Fox Sports West, courtesy of the Angels’ television feed.
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