Below are Day 18 Spring Training Notes from the Dodgers.
NORTHSIDERS: The Dodgers head east to Mesa this afternoon to take on the Cubs as the two teams will square off at HoHoKam Stadium for the first time since 2009 after they were washed out a year ago. The clubs will battle two more times this spring, meeting on March 13 at Cashman Field in Las Vegas and on March 22 at Camelback Ranch - Glendale.
BILLS ON THE HILL: Dodger right-hander Chad Billingsley will make his second Spring Training start today against the Cubs after striking out three in 3.0 scoreless frames on Tuesday against the Indians. The 2009 All-Star has posted a winning record with double-digit victories in each of his four full big league seasons and ranks sixth in the National League with 551 strikeouts over the last three seasons. Billingsley will be followed by Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert, Ramon Troncoso, Luis Vasquez and Carlos Monasterios. Right-hander Ryan Dempster will get the start for the Cubbies.
- FIRING BLANKS – The Dodgers posted their second Spring Training shutout yesterday as six pitchers limited the Reds to just five hits, while walking only two. Clayton Kershaw was dominant, allowing just one hit and striking out three in 4.0 frames to pick up his first victory of the spring. Matt Kemp put the Dodgers on the board with an RBI double in the fourth inning and Trent Oeltjen drove in an insurance run with a single in the eighth. Lance Cormier, Jon Huber, Roman Colon, Wilkin De La Rosa and Oscar Villarreal each chipped in with a scoreless inning of relief to close out the win.
START ME UP: Clayton Kershaw continued the Dodgers’ trend of superb starting pitching yesterday and through nine games, Dodger starters have posted a minuscule 0.77 ERA (2 ER/23.1 IP). The Los Angeles projected rotation of Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland will boast five pitchers who each won 10 or more games last season. Their cumulative 2010 ERA of 3.39 (371 ER/986.0 IP) and .234 opponents’ batting average (857-for-3663) would have led all Major League starting rotations and their combined 844 strikeouts would have ranked third. Each member of the club’s starting rotation posted an ERA under 3.65, pitched more than 190.0 innings and made 30 or more starts last season.
- OH HAPPY DAY – The Dodgers would like to wish a very happy birthday to outfielder Marcus Thames, who shares his birthday with Hall of Famers Willie Stargell and Lefty Grove. The 34-year-old posted career highs with a .288 batting average and a .350 on-base percentage in 82 games last season with the Yankees. Since the start of the 2006 season, Thames has averaged a home run every 14.93 at-bats, which was the fourth-best mark in the American League over that span (min. 1,200 AB), and the slugger has averaged a home run every 15.58 at-bats in his career, the 27th-best mark all-time (min. 1,500 AB).
- FIVE FINGER DISCOUNT – The Dodgers are currently tied for second among National League teams with 13 stolen bases during the spring season with speedsters Tony Gwynn Jr. (3), Matt Kemp (2) and Eugenio Velez (2) leading the charge. Only two Dodgers have been caught stealing in nine games this spring after the club stole just 10 bases in 30 Spring Training games last season.
- HIGH NUMBERS: Six Dodger minor leaguers will join the big league club in Mesa today with LHP Alberto Bastardo (#91), OF Elian Herrera (#90), OF Joc Pederson (#87), LHP David Pfeiffer (#92), RHP Juan Rincon (#91) and IF Rafael Ynoa (#89) suiting up for Los Angeles. Pederson, the Dodgers’ 11th-round selection in the 2010 draft, was named the top prospect by Baseball America in the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League this past summer after hitting .319 and earning a selection to the league’s All-Star Game. The 18-year-old from Palo Alto is the son of Stu Pederson, who was drafted by Los Angeles in the ninth round of the 1981 draft and appeared in eight games with the club in 1985.
TOGETHER IN TUCSON: It was announced on Friday that the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will play a Spring Training game on Friday, March 25 at 1:05 p.m. in Tucson with proceeds benefitting the Tucson Together Fund. The fund provides financial assistance to the victims, witnesses and their families for expenses associated with the January 8th tragedy. The contest will be played at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium (formerly known as TEP) with tickets available at Dodgers.com/Spring.