Dodgers excited about opening day regardless of who pitches for Giants
That would have been quite the marquee matchup on opening day: Clayton Kershaw versus Madison Bumgarner.
Bumgarner, the San Francisco Giants ace, suffered a broken finger in his final Cactus League start. He has a 2.53 earned-run average against the Dodgers.
The Giants replaced him Sunday with another left-hander, one with a lower ERA against the Dodgers.
Ty Blach has a 2.23 ERA against the Dodgers and a 4.99 ERA against everyone else. Blach has faced Kershaw twice, winning 3-0 two years ago and losing 2-1 last year.
“He’s pitched really well against us,” Enrique Hernandez said. “It seems like he’s got our number, but it’s a new year.”
Blach had the lowest strikeout rate among qualifying major league starters last season. His soft tosses keep hitters off balance, all the more of a risk for the Dodgers if their batters are amped-up for the opener.
“He’s got a really good feel for making pitches look like strikes,” Hernandez said. “He’s going to play with the corners of the plate.
“It’s opening day. It’s not any different if you’re facing Bumgarner, or you’re facing [the Giants’ Johnny] Cueto, or you’re facing Blach. Each pitcher has his own strengths and weaknesses.”
Blach has three hits in five at-bats against Kershaw. Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has three hits in 51 at-bats against Kershaw.
“No way,” Roberts said. “Clayton is making his eighth opening-day start. We’re at home, playing the Giants. Let me tell you, those guys aren’t conceding that game. Opening day is always special, regardless of the opponent or where we play. For us, at home, playing the Giants, it’s going to be a very cool day.”
Yasiel Puig moves up
Yasiel Puig batted eighth in last year’s opener. He batted third in Sunday’s Freeway Series exhibition.
In the absence of the injured Justin Turner, Roberts said Puig would get a chance to be the Dodgers’ No. 3 hitter at the start of the season.
“Can I say right now that he is going to hit third every day? Absolutely not,” Roberts said. “But I want to give him a little bit of a runway to show that he deserves that opportunity.”
Puig entered play Sunday batting .349 this spring, highest among Dodgers regulars.
Joc Pederson at first?
Outfielder Joc Pederson, on the bubble for a roster spot, took ground balls at first base Sunday. Pederson said the Dodgers had not told him to do so.
“I’ve been working on it for myself,” Pederson said. “I just wanted to be ready if they need me.”
Pederson never has played first base in the major or minor leagues. He said he had two first base gloves, one from Cody Bellinger and the other from Adrian Gonzalez.
The Dodgers are expected to pair Kemp with Pederson or Andrew Toles in left field. It is unlikely the Dodgers would keep both Pederson and Toles; each can be optioned to the minor leagues.
The Dodgers, who play their first home game this year Monday, have raised the parking price to $15 for advance purchase and $25 at the gate. Parking at Angel Stadium remains $10. … In attendance in Anaheim on Sunday: Tommy Lasorda, 90, who managed the Dodgers to their last World Series championship 30 years ago: “I think this is the year. I can’t wait for these guys to celebrate a World Series win. That would make me the happiest guy in the world. They are such outstanding players and great young men. They’re well-educated, well-mannered guys. I want them to raise that flag.”
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin
Are you a true-blue fan?
Get our Dodgers Dugout newsletter for insights, news and much more.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.