The Dodgers open at home against the San Diego Padres and the Angels are on the road in Oakland to face the Athletics.
For the third year in a row — the 11th time over all — the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers open the season against one another. This year it’s a four-game series here at Dodger Stadium to kick off the 2017 campaign.
Once again the Dodgers are picked as the benchmark of the National League West Division and the Padres are picked to wallow in the basement. But that isn’t the view of the Padres. During Spring Training pitcher Jered Weaver said they intend to be a thorn in the side of every team in the division.
When asked about facing the best pitcher in the league, Clayton Kershaw — at Dodger Stadium — outfielder Hunter Renfroe told our reporter Claudia Gestro, “Many people over look us. [W]e’re picked to finish last and that’s something we can use as our advantage.” Of Kershaw specifically, the power-hitting outfielder said, “Obviously we’re going to prepare ourselves the best we can to face him and obviously he’s the best for a reason. All respect to him, we gotta go out there and do the best we can.”
The Dodgers are opening their 60th season in Los Angeles and they expect to finish the opening day celebrations with a win. They well remember how the season ended last year, with a seven game National Championship Series loss to the eventual World Series winners, the Chicago Cubs. During Spring Training manager Dave Roberts told Gestro he and the team felt they had some unfinished business. “Our team did a lot of good things last year, overcame a lot of adversities, but the ultimate goal is to win a championship and bring it back to Los Angeles.” Roberts cited the signing of closer Kenley Jansen, starting pitcher Rich Hill and third baseman Justin Turner as just three examples of the Dodgers’ commitment to winning it all this season. “Those guys are hungry and there’s definitely some unfinished business.”
Andrew Toles, the outfielder who came in with the Dodgers at the end of last season and made an impact, said the one thing that has changed from last season is that they have come into the season with some higher expectations for themselves. “We want to just go out there and do our best and try to put together some wins so we can go back to where we were last year, maybe a little farther.”
After this four-game series the Dodgers are off on a road trip to the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs, places where it is very likely they will see snow on the ground. So today’s beautiful weather at Dodger Stadium (it will be sunny and in the high 60s at game time) won’t be taken for granted by either team. The Padres will face the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park for three games before heading off to Colorado to face the Rockies and then a four-game series against the Braves in Atlanta. Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin starts for the Padres today at Dodger Stadium.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim start their season on the road in Oakland. And the first game of the season for the Athletics and Angels is a night game so fans going to the Oakland Alameda Coliseum will need to dress warm. It will be mostly sunny at game time (7 p.m. PT) and in the mid 60s, but as the sun goes down the temperatures will drop into the mid 50s quickly.
One of the Angels’ new additions to the roster is Santa Ana native Danny Espinosa. He came over from the Washington Nationals and switched from playing shortstop to second base. “Being traded to the Angels, the team I grew up watching and cheering for; to be coming home and be able to spend time with my family, that was awesome.”
He had to move to second to accommodate Andrelton Simmons who joined the team last season. Pitcher Tyler Skaggs said, “I love Simmons. He’s the best shortstop in the game. I’m happy to have him play behind me. Plus he’s a great guy so it’s very nice to have him.”
Andrelton told Gestro he just worked at improving some things on defense and better pitch selection when he’s at the plate.
He spent the first four seasons with the Braves. Last year he had a batting average of .265, on base percentage of .321, a slugging percentage of .338 with four homeruns. He has two Gold Gloves in five years and his fielding percentage is .975.
Albert Pujols is back after foot surgery and Mike Trout is, well, Mike Trout. Look for him to have another MVP-quality season. The big question mark for the Angels will be the pitching. Last season their rotation and bullpen were plagued by injuries. Tyler Scaggs told Gestro the pitching staff was healthy coming out of Spring Training so they are looking forward to a good season this year.
Outfielder Rajai Davis is with the Athletics, after winning the American League Championship with the Cleveland Indians. He joins a line up that can put runs on the board. Shortstop Marcus Semien said the addition of Davis has been great. Davis spent some years with Oakland once before and Semien said, “He stole 50 bases here one year. So I’ve been picking his brain about base stealing because that something I want to do more of. And he’s also a really great hitter. Very under-rated. He’s got some power, even though he’s a shorter guy, he’s very strong — he’s a good lead-off hitter for us.”
Rajai Davis points to the former A’s left fielder Ricky Henderson as a reason he has done so well as a base runner and stealer. “He was instrumental in helping me develop a little leg kick … and drive the ball a little better.”
Kendall Graveman will start for Oakland and Ricky Nolasco for Los Angeles.
Major League Baseball is underway here in California. Game time for the Padres vs. Dodgers is 1:10 p.m. Because this is the 60th season there will be some special festivities before the game. The gates will open for the fans at 10 a.m.
One big change Dodgers fans will notice: They will not hear those now famous words, “It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good afternoon to you, wherever you may be.” Vin Scully will not be calling the game. He retired after last season. Fans, players and coaches everywhere said they will miss Scully, who was the voice of the Dodgers for 67 seasons. Taking over the play-by-play duties will be former ESPN announcer — one of the original ESPN guys — Chris Berman. He will be a big departure from Scully, one some fans will need adjusting to this season. Anyone who has watched Sports Center over the past 38 years knows Berman’s style. HE-COULD-GO-ALL-THE-WAY to winning over Dodgers fans.
The San Francisco Giants got their season started Sunday (April 2) in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. Giants starter Madison Bumgarner retired his first 16 batters and hit two homeruns, the first Opening Day starter to do it — ever. His first homer came in the 5th against former Dodger Zack Greinke. His second in the 7th against Andrew Chafin. Despite the effort, the DBacks won, 6-5.
Below are some of the videos from Spring Training with the Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Giants and A’s. to view all of our sports reports visit our YouTube channel.
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UPDATE: The Dodgers absolutely crushed the Padres, 14-3. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw gave up an RBI single to third baseman Yangervis Solarte in the first inning, but then retired the next 19 Padres batters. Second baseman Ryan Schimpf dinged Kershaw with a two-out solo homerun in the 7th, but at that point the score was already a lop-sided 12-1.
Kershaw struck out catcher Austin Hedges to end the inning and his part in the game. His finals line for Monday: seven innings, allowing two hits, two runs, eight strikeouts and no walks. He starts the 2017 season with an ERA of 1.29
On the other side Padres starter Jhoulys Chacin gave up a sacrifice fly to Joc Pederson in the second and then in the third Pederson hit a grand Slam, bringing the score to 5-1. Yasmani Grandal followed Pederson with a solo homer.
In the fourth inning Kershaw got on base with a single, Andrew Toles moved him to second with another single and Justin Turner doubled, scoring Kershaw. Christian Bethancourt replaced Chacin and he threw two straight wild pitches allowing Toles and Turner to score.
Corey Seager hit a three-run homer in the fifth off Bethancourt scoring Kersahaw and Yasiel Puig. The score was then 12-1. Schimpf got his homer in the seventh and then in the eighth outfielder Manuel Margot hit a long double that scored Travis Jankowski
Grandal got his second home of the game, a two-run shot that brought the score to 14-3. It was a humbling game for the Padres.
Up north in Oakland the Angels lost in a close game against the Athletics, 4-2. Mike Trout got a two-run homer in the third, but that was all the scoring for the Angels.
Khris Davis hit two homeruns for Oakland and Stephen Vogt got another.
The Giants and Diamondbacks had their opener on Sunday, but had an off day Monday. They get under way today for the second game at 6:40 pm. With Johnny Cueto starting for San Francisco and Patrick Corbin for Arizona.
The Angels and A’s start tonight at 7:05 pm. Matt Shoemaker takes the mound for Los Angeles and Sean Manaea for Oakland. The Padres and Dodgers start at 7:10 p.m. Clayton Richard starts for San Diego and Kenta Maeda for Los Angeles.
Photos by Claudia Gestro