Dodgers’ opening-day payroll close to last season’s
SAN DIEGO — The Dodgers’ opening-day payroll was only slightly less than it was last season.
The 25 players on the active roster will be paid $77,031,500, according to union filings of salary figures obtained by The Times. The Dodgers will pay an additional $13,456,000 to their four players on the disabled list and the major league minimum of $480,000 to Ronald Belisario, who is on the restricted list while serving a 25-game drug suspension.
The opening-day payroll of $91 million was only $5 million or so less than it was last year.
The Dodgers owe an additional $22 million to former players in deferred salaries and option buyouts.
The payroll including deferred salaries and buyouts was about the same as it was last season.
Ted Lilly is the team’s highest-paid player at $12 million, followed by Andre Ethier at $10.95 million, Matt Kemp at $10 million and Chad Billingsley at $9 million.
Twelve of the 25 players on the opening-day roster will earn less than $1 million, including shortstop Dee Gordon ($485,000), catcher A.J. Ellis ($490,000), closer Javy Guerra ($485,000) and setup man Kenley Jansen ($491,000).
The Dodgers’ payroll will increase in 2014, a byproduct of the backloaded deals signed by several of their players. The team has 11 players under contract next season for $94 million, plus another $10 million or so in buyouts and deferred salaries.
First of 50?
Kemp’s first home run of the season was a towering opposite-field shot that landed on top of the short right-field wall in the spacious Petco Park.
Kemp’s two-run blast in the eighth inning accounted for the Dodgers’ final two runs in a 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday.
“Some guys hit pop flies and they’re pop flies,” Ethier said. “Some guys hit pop flies and they’re home runs.”
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly shook his head.
“That ball he hit — wow,” Mattingly said. “I guess we’re not worried about spring anymore.”
Kemp hit only .262 in spring training and struck out 26 times in 65 at-bats.
“In this ballpark? Oppo?” Mattingly said. “Mmmm.”
Because of where the game was played, Kemp didn’t know whether the ball had cleared the fence.
“This is a hard place to hit home runs,” he said. “Sometimes you’re not quite sure you hit it, knowing the ball doesn’t travel too good here. … I was almost on second base when it landed. I knew I had to get running because I didn’t know it was going to get out.”
With a sizable contingent of Dodgers fans at the ballpark, Kemp was serenaded with “M-V-P!” chants late in the game.
“Seriously, it gives you goose bumps,” Kemp said.
Even if the chants might be premature.
“They’re jumping the gun a little bit,” Kemp said. “We’ve got 161 left. Let’s take it game by game and see how it goes.”
You can do better
Before the game, some players wore blue T-shirts bearing the image of Juan Uribe pointing surrounded by the words, “You Can Do Better.”
The shirts were designed and distributed by Uribe, who was paying tribute to affable Dodgers instructor Maury Wills.
“He’s always telling us, ‘You can do better,’ ‘You’re not that good,’” Uribe said.
Uribe continued, “It’s just something to motivate us.”
Uribe could do better. He was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts in the season opener.