After a 4-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in their first Spring Training game, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a chance to redeem themselves as they face the DBacks again this afternoon. Fortunately for the Dodgers, they’ll have their “Opening Day” at Camelback Ranch after playing yesterday in Scottsdale.
Going into Spring Training, there was already animosity between the two teams. After a benches-clearing brawl over summer and then the Dodgers NL West division-winning celebration in the Diamondbacks pool, the NL West rivals have undeniable tension. The Dodgers were criticized by players, fans, and officials around the league for this excessive celebration and Diamondbacks fans made it very clear yesterday that they weren’t over the humiliation.
After a Phoenix radio show took a listener poll to see whether or not Arizona should “plunk Puig” in yesterday’s spring training opener, fans had the general consensus that Puig should absolutely be hit by a pitch. This opinion was undoubtedly confirmed when Puig was welcomed to Scottsdale with an overwhelming amount of booing. With the two teams meeting in Australia for their season opener in less than a month, the tensions will only rise with every game they play against each other.
On the field, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had an uncharacteristic start yesterday and wasn’t happy about it. Pitching only two innings, Kershaw gave up three runs, thanks in large part to Carl Crawford misplay in left field during the second inning. Today is a fresh start and the Dodgers number two starter Zack Greinke will take the mound.
Greinke had some choice words regarding this Australia trip recently, as traveling across the world changes his Spring Training routine. Despite his less than enthusiastic attitude towards the opening series, today’s game will be a chance to see how much progress he’s made this off-season.
With Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez all out of the lineup yesterday, they’ll all make their first Spring Training game appearances. Don Mattingly will be alternating regulars for Spring Training games in order to give his starters the appropriate rest. This gives opportunities for younger prospects and players competing for positions to showcase their abilities.
This is especially important for the handful of second basemen competing for the starting spot. Chone Figgins, Alex Guerrero, and Dee Gordon were all unproductive at the plate yesterday. Gordon gets a chance to start there today while Guerrero, known more for his hitting, will be the designated.
Behind Greinke today are relievers Chris Withrow, Sam Demel, Pedro Baez, Red Patterson, Jarret Martin, Carlos Frias and Daniel Moskos. Catcher A.J. Ellis was sent home with the flu, which explains why he wasn’t in the lineup yesterday while Crawford will be out today and tomorrow with quad tightness.
For fans with Time Warner Cable, tune into SportsNet LA at 12:05 pm for game coverage. For fans with other cable providers who haven’t made any deals with SportsNet LA, check out Dodgers Radio AM570 for the scheduled radio broadcasts for the remainder of Dodger spring training games.
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