Howie Kendrick back at Angel Stadium as a Dodger for Freeway Series

Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick will return to Angel Stadium for the Freeway Series beginning Thursday.

In the ballpark he called home for nine seasons, Howie Kendrick will be a visitor Thursday. He and the Dodgers will be at Angel Stadium for the start of the Freeway Series.

"I know the place inside and out," Kendrick said. "It will be fun to get to see some familiar faces. There's a lot of memories there for me."

When Kendrick played second base for the Angels, he observed how the fans in Anaheim treated former players who returned wearing the uniforms of other teams. For the most part, they were well-received.

"I'd like to think I was well-liked there," Kendrick said. "Hopefully, there will be a lot of cheers. I was there a long time, went to the postseason a few times. I felt like I had a great time there. I grew up there. Hopefully, the fans will embrace me like they did a lot of the other guys that came back."

His former manager will be looking on with curiosity.

"I have not seen him in a Dodgers uniform," said Mike Scioscia, wondering if Kendrick is still wearing No. 47. (He is.)

The Dodgers and Angels played each other twice in Arizona last month, but Kendrick didn't appear in either game.

"It's going to be a little strange," Scioscia said. "You're so used to seeing him out there at second base and now he'll have a different uniform on."

The three-game Freeway Series — the first two games are in Anaheim, Saturday's finale at Dodger Stadium — are exhibitions.

Kendrick wondered what it would have been like if the Angels had traded him to a division rival. He shook his head when thinking what Matt Kemp will have to endure this year, when he makes multiple visits to Dodger Stadium with the San Diego Padres.

"It's definitely a little different when you have that level of competition and it's tough when you're traded within the division," Kendrick said.

Kendrick smiled and shook his head.

"I'm just grateful they traded me to another team that was a championship-caliber team," he said. "It was right up the street, too. I'm in a different league, but I still get to see those guys."

As for the games in Anaheim, Kendrick views them for what they are in practical terms.

"It will be fun to get things rolling, get under some good lights and try to get your eyes acclimated to the night games," he said.

Theoretically, at least, roster spots could be at stake, as both teams look to set their bullpens and benches for their season openers on Monday.

The Dodgers still have three nonroster pitchers who could be part of the bullpen: Sergio Santos, David Huff and David Aardsma. They are in competition with a group of young relievers that includes Yimi Garcia, Paco Rodriguez, Pedro Baez and Adam Liberatore.

Several of the relievers could pitch Thursday since the game won't be started by any of the Dodgers' four healthy starting pitchers. Whoever starts will face the Angels' Matt Shoemaker. The Dodgers will go with Brandon McCarthy against Andrew Heaney on Friday, with Brett Anderson facing Hector Santiago in the series finale on Saturday.

The Dodgers bench could also be affected by what happens between now and the end of the series.

Andre Ethier, who was struck by a pitch on the elbow on Tuesday, could play as early as Thursday. Utility men Enrique Hernandez and Alex Guerrero look like the odds-on favorites to claim the final two reserve roles, but they are being pushed by infielder Darwin Barney and outfielder Chris Heisey.

The Angels' final roster spot looks like it will go to either Efren Navarro or Marc Krauss, both left-handed hitters who play some first base and in the outfield.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.

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