Dodgers @ Padres April 1, 2014: You Probably Can’t See This Game

petco_park_opener2013So! A lot is happening today. First, if you’d like to listen to me talk about the Dodgers for about half an hour with the esteemed Will Leitch, do check out his Sports on Earth podcast here. And if you’d like to see a review of the five instant replays that happened on the first day managers were allowed to, you can see a study I did with GIFs over at FanGraphs here. And, now that the Dodgers minor league affiliates have announced their rosters, you can check out our updated depth charts here.

And, sadly, we still don’t know when Clayton Kershaw is coming back, but Bill Shaikin says that it is being measured “in weeks, not days.” Alanna Rizzo adds that Kershaw will be re-evaluated in two to three weeks, and only then will a timetable be determined. That’s not great, but that’s also an issue that deserves its own post. For now, there’s Dodger baseball, with Zack Greinke on the mound.

Dodgers 
Padres
3:40pm PT
San Diego, CA
LF
Crawford
SS
Cabrera
RF
Puig
LF
Smith
SS
Ramirez
3B
Headley
1B
Gonzalez
1B
Alonso
CF
Ethier
2B
Gyorko
3B
Uribe
CF
Venable
C
Ellis
RF
Denorfia
2B
Gordon
C
Grandal
P
Greinke (R)
P
Kennedy (R)

But you’ll have to take my word for that, most likely. After a domestic Opening Day that was on ESPN, this game is the first of many that is exclusively going to be on SNLA, and as you most likely know all too well, most of you do not get SNLA. That means you’re either not seeing this game, or you’re resorting to illicit methords to get it, unless you happen to be close enough to San Diego to pull in the Padres broadcast on FSSD.

This is, it should be mentioned, still not a surprise. Anyone who really thought this was going to be 100 percent settled by now was fooling themselves. Just because it’s playing out like we thought it would doesn’t make it any less disappointing if you’re not able to watch this game, of course, though it’s probably worth passing along Ramona Shelburne’s point that this really isn’t in the hands of the team any longer; it’s Time Warner negotiating with cable companies. It will get done, eventually. We just don’t know when.

In the meantime, I won’t judge you if you find some underground ways to follow along, and I wouldn’t all mind if you jumped into the comment section here to hang out with us. Greinke is backed by the exact same lineup that Hyun-jin Ryu had on Sunday, which isn’t that big of a surprise. Yes, that is Ian Kennedy opposing him, and no, don’t expect anything to happen. For one, Carlos Quentin is injured yet again. For another, this isn’t the first time the Dodgers have seen him since the brawl he helped instigate last year while with Arizona.

Anyway, it was weird to see so many teams playing yesterday and not have the Dodgers be among them, even though they’d played three times already. It’s starting to feel like the season is getting into a normal groove, even though there’s another day off on Thursday.

Dodgers @ Padres, March 30, 2014: Grand Re-opening

petco_park_opener2013After a strange week, we’re back to baseball that actually counts, and it’s here to stay. The Dodgers re-open their 2014 campaign in San Diego tonight, and I have to say that the starting lineup looks pretty good against right-handed pitching. After all of the talk about Yasiel Puig leading off, he’s batting behind Carl Crawford tonight. The team also continues to be cautious with Dee Gordon, batting him eighth, which is absolutely the correct spot right now. The Dodgers are not scheduled to face any left-handed starters during the series against the Padres, so expect to see this lineup, or something similar, for the next few games. Of course, the real way to judge the lineup is in visual form.

Dodgers 
Padres
5:05pm PT
San Diego, CA
LF
Crawford
SS
Cabrera
RF
Puig
RF
Denorfia
SS
Ramirez
3B
Headley
1B
Gonzalez
2B
Gyorko
CF
Ethier
1B
Alonso
3B
Uribe
LF
Medica
C
Ellis
CF
Venable
2B
Gordon
C
Rivera
P
Ryu (L)
P
Cashner (R)

After some concerns about Hyun-jin Ryu‘s big toe, he will start for the Dodgers tonight. Ryu started out his 2014 season about as well as possibly could have, pitching five scoreless innings, striking out five batters and walking one. This is the second consecutive regular season game started by Ryu. Eric Stephen has some fun trivia about consecutive games started by the same pitcher here.

The opening day starter in San Diego’s injury-plagued rotation is Andrew Cashner. The right-handed pitccher had a good season last year after transitioning to a starter’s role for the first time. He allowed an ERA- of 86, FIP- of 93, and xFIP- of 96 in 175 innings. As a starter, he started pitching to contact, striking out just 6.58 batters per nine innings last season. If there’s anywhere he can get away with that style, it’s Petco Park. Cashner had an odd spring this year. He gave up 4 earned runs in 15-2/3 innings (good for a 2.30 ERA), but he gave up five un-earned runs on top of that.

Tonight’s game will be on ESPN, which has its benefits and drawbacks. Most fans can actually watch this game in the Los Angeles area, which wouldn’t be the case if the game was on SNLA. However, that means we also have to hear even more opinions on Puig. It’s also a landmark game for Major League Baseball; it is the first game with the new expanded replay rules in effect. We’ve seen some exhibition games with the new rules, but there seemed to be a lot of experimentation since the games didn’t count. The baseball world will watching to see if (and how) the new rules are put into effect.

If the Dodgers win tonight, they’ll have three wins before 27 major league teams have played, which wouldn’t be a bad place to be.

Ryu gets the nod in Game 2, along with Gordon and Baxter

The Dodgers are changing things up in the second game of the season in Australia, inserting two new players into the lineup and switching up the batting order. Scott Van Slyke is sitting for Mike Baxter and Justin Turner is being replaced by Dee Gordon, but perhaps the most interesting move is the decision to bat Gordon leadoff.

The changes are understandable with a switch in handedness of the opposing starting pitcher (though SVS had a reverse platoon split last year), and I think it’s actually a positive sign for the future if this indicates a new willingness to platoon going forward. Here’s hoping Don Mattingly doesn’t give up on it if a few tries are unsuccessful … and that he doesn’t view players like Baxter as a legit platoon option going forward.

Meanwhile, starter Hyun Jin Ryu has high expectations for his 2014.

“Our one and two starters are so strong, but after Zack Greinke was hurt, I started thinking I might pitch,” said Ryu, who gets the ball for the Dodgers on Sunday against the D-backs. “I had a really good spring, and I feel really good. I have high expectations.”

Diamondbacks
Dodgers 
7:00pm PT
Sydney, Australia
CF
Pollock
2B
Gordon
2B
Hill
RF
Puig
1B
Goldschmidt
SS
Ramirez
LF
Prado
1B
Gonzalez
1B
Trumbo
CF
Ethier
RF
Montero
C
Ellis
C
Parra
LF
Baxter
2B
Gregorius
3B
Uribe
P
Cahill
P
Ryu

In injury news, Chad Billingsley continues to progress in rehab.

Billingsley said he expects to throw a few more BP sessions against hitters, and he remains on track to make the first of at least five rehab appearances in the Minor Leagues starting on April 6. The right-hander estimates that he has already thrown close to 20 bullpen sessions this year.

“My arm felt good, so that’s definitely good, especially being the first time going full bore with the heater and the first time throwing a hard curveball and changeups,” Billingsley said. “I was a little rusty, but I was very pleased with the curveball. The timing was a little off, but I threw some good pitches, and overall, I’m pretty pleased with it.”

And no, Matt Kemp is apparently not banned from getting hits in minor league games.

Kemp finished 2-for-4 with a home run and a double in a Triple-A game against the a White Sox.

“I’m getting my work in and getting ready for the season,” Kemp said. “I felt pretty good. Today was a good day.”

Have a feeling the Dodgers are really going to need him in 2014, for better or worse.

=====

-Carl Crawford‘s fiance gave birth to a baby boy. No complications and he should be ready to go when the Dodgers get back. Congrats to him.

Dodgers announce Australia roster, with a few surprises

Alex Guerrero's time on the 25-man roster will be short -- for now.

Alex Guerrero’s time on the 25-man roster will be short — for now. (By: Dustin Nosler)

About 30 minutes after the rosters were due, the Dodgers announced the 25 players who will be active for their 2-game series in Australia against the Diamondbacks.

Dodgers
Diamondbacks 
1:30 am PT
Sydney, Australia
RF
Puig
CF
Pollock
2B
Turner
2B
Hill
SS
Ramirez
1B
Goldschmidt
1B
Gonzalez
3B
Prado
LF
Van Slyke
LF
Trumbo
3B
Uribe
C
Montero
CF
Ethier
SS
Owings
C
Ellis
RF
Parra
P
Kershaw
P
Miley

The biggest surprise is Tim Federowicz getting option to the minor leagues in favor of Drew Butera. The only reason Federowicz was optioned is because he had options and Butera doesn’t. If the Dodgers don’t have to make a 40-man roster decision before they have to, then why would they? Odds are, Butera doesn’t see the field because A.J. Ellis will start both games down under.

I don’t think the Dodgers have to worry about teams lining up to claim Butera when he’s eventually designated for assignment (they’ll need the 40-man roster spot eventually), but they’re just delaying the inevitable.

Jose Dominguez, Seth Rosin and Chris Withrow also made the roster, solely because the Dodgers only brought three starting pitchers for the two games. Dominguez and Withrow will likely be optioned prior to the stateside opener, and the Dodgers will have to decide what to do with Rosin at that point. Odds are, Brandon League will remain on the disabled list longer so the Dodgers can keep Rosin around.

Alex Guerrero also made the cut, but like Dominguez, it’s a temporary move as he’ll be optioned to the minors after the Dodgers’ trip in favor of Dee Gordon, Chone Figgins and Justin Turner.

Here’s the full roster.

Pitchers
Jose Dominguez
J.P. Howell
Kenley Jansen
Clayton Kershaw
Paul Maholm
Chris Perez
Seth Rosin
Paco Rodriguez
Hyun-Jin Ryu
Brian Wilson
Chris Withrow
Jamey Wright

Catchers
Drew Butera
A.J. Ellis

Infielders
Chone Figgins
Dee Gordon
Alex Guerrero
Adrian Gonzalez
Hanley Ramirez
Justin Turner
Juan Uribe

Outfielders
Mike Baxter
Andre Ethier
Yasiel Puig
Scott Van Slyke

Disabled list
Josh Beckett
Chad Billingsley
Matt Kemp

Exemptions
Zack Greinke
Dan Haren
Brandon League

Paternity
Carl Crawford

Reassigned
Zach Lee
Joc Pederson
Miguel Rojas

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The pregame starts at 1 a.m. on SportsNet LA, and first pitch is scheduled for approximately 1:45 a.m. Pacific time. It can be seen on locally SNLA. It will also air on MLB Network and MLB TV outside the Los Angeles coverage area. Those in the LA area who don’t have SNLA can listen to the game on AM 570 Fox Sports LA.