The Dodgers returned home to Southern California this week. They dropped their final three games in Arizona, but they took two of three from the Angels in the annual preseason Freeway Series. The team finalized their opening day roster, and they unveiled some of the $100 million worth of renovations going on at Dodger Stadium. 34,157 at Friday night’s game at Dodger Stadium were treated to wider, better-lit concourses, a cool LA logo monument at the loge level entrance, and brand-new, exquisite, HD scoreboards that are beyond crystal clear.
Monday, March 25-Royals 8, Dodgers 2
Zack Greinke had a rough time in his first Cactus League start after three weeks off due to elbow issues. Greinke gave up five runs off of six hits in three innings of work. He walked three batters as well. Although Greinke’s fastball hit 94 MPH, he cited his lack of a breaking ball for his bad start. The Dodgers got eight hits and received three walks from Royals’ starter Wade Davis, but the Blue Crew left nine men on base. Matt Kemp had a sac fly and A.J. Ellis scored off of a Mike Moustakas error. Don Mattingly got ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the seventh inning.
Tuesday, March 26-Rockies 7, Dodgers 6
It was a rough day for the Dodgers, Aaron Harang got roughed up after struggling with new glasses for the first time, and Andre Ethier left the game with mild hamstring soreness. Harang was shelled for five runs, four hits, and four walks in 5.1 innings of work. Harang settled down after the first and dispensing of his glasses, but the damage was done by a Michael Cuddyer grand slam. Tim Federowicz hit a three-run homer, his first as a Dodger, and Juan Uribe and Alfredo Amezaga each drove in runs for the Dodgers.
Wednesday, March 27-Mariners 10, Dodgers 7
It was a match up of aces as Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez dueled in Wednesday’s Cactus League finale. It was far from a instant classic for either pitcher. Each gave up three runs, however Hernandez pitched six innings to Kershaw’s three. Ted Lilly got roughed up for seven runs in only 2.1 innings of work. Lilly was tagged for six hits and three walks including a two-run homer by Michael Morse. It was mostly minor leaguers in the game for the Dodgers as the offense was paced by Ted Lilly’s RBI double and C.J. Retherford.
Thursday, March 28-Dodgers 3, Angels 0
Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched four perfect innings for the Dodgers, solidifying his rotation status. In fact, Ryu and six Dodgers’ relievers combined to two-hit the Angels. The Angels’ Joe Blanton matched Ryu for six shutout innings of his own, but the Dodgers got to the Angels’ bullpen scoring a run in the seventh and two in the eighth including an RBI triple from Matt Kemp.
Friday, March 29-Dodgers 9, Angels 8
It may have been an exhibition game, but it felt like the regular season had started Friday night, as the Dodgers showed off the new Dodger Stadium fan experience. For Dodger fans who had been suffering under the ownership of Frank McCourt over the past few years, what was happening off the field was just as important as what was happening on it. It was a joyous occasion to see a Dodgers team stacked with all-stars, and a renovated stadium with a modern feel that had been lacking for years. Both the Dodgers’ and Angels’ bats unleashed in a preview of what these two potent offenses will be doing with regularity in 2013. Josh Beckett struggled, giving up seven runs in four innings of work, including home runs by Mike Trout and Alberto Callaspo. However, A.J. Ellis’s grand slam would pace the Dodgers’ offense. Carl Crawford had a multi-hit game, and Matt Kemp and Luis Cruz each had RBI doubles for the Dodgers.
Saturday, March 30-Angels 2, Dodgers 1
Zack Greinke alleviated any worries Dodgers’ fans may have had with five solid innings of one run ball Saturday. Greinke struck out five, giving up a run on three hits and a walk. Everything is a go for Greinke to start Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Dodgers scored in the first inning off of Angels’ starter Tommy Hanson. Crawford singled, stole a base, and scored on a Matt Kemp sac fly, but that would be all of the Dodgers’ offense for the day.
The Dodgers have also finalized their 25-man opening day roster. Justin Sellers will be the opening day shortstop, meaning Luis Cruz will stay at third base, for the time being. It appears the Dodgers are putting the emphasis on defense. Sellers is an outstanding defensive shortstop who fields the position slickly. However, Sellers only has a career line of .204/.283/.607 with two home runs in 55 major league games. Paco Rodriguez will get the final spot in the bullpen. The lefty from Florida, who turns 23 on April 16th, had a 3.09 ERA in Spring Training, as well as a 13:3 K/BB ratio in 11.2 innings of work, including 2-for-2 in save situations. Rodriguez will join J.P. Howell as the only lefties in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Opening Day is finally here. Clayton Kershaw will take on the Giants’ Matt Cain Monday afternoon at 1 at Dodger Stadium. In the immortal words of Vin Scully, “Its Time for Dodger Baseball!”