Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez leaves exhibition, expected to start opener

SYDNEY, Australia — Adrian Gonzalez made an early exit from an exhibition game Thursday because of tightness in his back but is expected to start the Dodgers' regular-season opener Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I'm expecting him to go tomorrow," Manager Don Mattingly said Friday.


Gonzalez will play first base and bat fourth.

With left-hander Wade Miley pitching for the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers will start right-handed-hitting utility man Justin Turner instead of left-handed-hitting Dee Gordon at second base.

Right fielder Yasiel Puig will bat leadoff, followed, in order, by Turner, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, Gonzalez, left fielder Scott Van Slyke, third baseman Juan Uribe, center fielder Andre Ethier, catcher A.J. Ellis and pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

Gonzalez played in a team-high 157 games last season. He was removed in the fourth inning Thursday in the Dodgers' 4-2 victory over an Australian league all-star team.

"I'm all right," he said. "I'll be good."

Puig homers

The Dodgers reversed a two-run deficit to Team Australia in the eighth inning, their comeback starting with a towering two-run home run by Puig. The home run was the first of the year for Puig, who batted .122 in the Cactus League.

"I haven't hit one in a while," he said in Spanish.

Puig admitted there were times he was frustrated by his spring performance.

"My coaches and teammates have been telling me not to worry, that everything will turn out fine," he said.

Puig also saved a run in the sixth inning, throwing out Mike Walker at the plate from right field on a single by Tim Kennelly.

Kershaw ready to go

Asked whether he always intended to pitch in Australia, Kershaw smiled and replied, "No comment."

Kershaw is pitching the season opener Saturday. However, entering spring training, the Dodgers were considering not using him in Australia as a means of limiting his workload. That idea was shelved when Zack Greinke suffered a calf injury and was ruled out for the season-opening series.


Kershaw said he was pleased when Mattingly informed him of his opening-day assignment.

"The more you think about it, being in Arizona for an extra week and pitching in minor league games, I guess technically you do get your work in, but there's no adrenaline, it's just not the same intensity," Kershaw said. "The more I thought about it, it would have been tough to simulate a season in minor league camp for me."

Twitter: @dylanohernandez