Here are some Spring Training notes from the Dodgers:
YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE: For just the second time this spring, three Dodger media partners will be in action as today’s game will be broadcast on KCAL, KABC and KTNQ. Charley Steiner will call the game on KCAL 9 by himself while Rick Monday will go the solo route over on KABC 790. A few doors down, Jaime Jarrín, Pepe Yňiguez and Fernando Valenzuela will have the call on Univision’s KTNQ 1020.
GETTING THERE: Following the game yesterday, the Dodgers optioned right-handed pitcher Travis Schlichting to minor league camp. This morning, the club did the same with RHP Ramon Troncoso and is now down to 36 players in big league camp, including 16 pitchers and 20 position players.
HANGING ON: The Dodgers nearly blew a five-run lead in the last 2.0 innings, but held on yesterday in Peoria for a 5-4 victory over the Padres. New Dodger infielder Juan Uribe looked ready to go as he belted a two-run homer in the fourth frame and then followed that up with a two-run double in the fifth. For the spring, Uribe is hitting .317 with 11 RBI, which ranks second on the club. Elsewhere, James Loney and Jamey Carroll each scored two runs apiece. On the mound, Opening Night starter Clayton Kershaw threw just 39 pitches, but was dominant, allowing just one Padre to reach base and that came on an error.
BILLS THRILLS: Dodger right-hander Chad Billingsley will make his final appearance of the spring season today as he gets ready to start the second game of the season against the San Francisco Giants on Friday night. Billingsley is 0-1 with a 3.42 ERA (8 ER/21.0 IP) over five Cactus League starts. The Ohio native is about to enter his fifth full season in the big leagues and sixth overall. He was called up to Los Angeles on June 15, 2006 and went on to go 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 18 games (16 starts). Billingsley was an All-Star in 2009 and has never had a losing record in his eight-year professional career.
SOME MINOR RELIEF: Following Chad Billingsley to the hill will be four minor league pitchers, including three of the club’s top pitching prospects. Expected to see action are right-handed pitcher Nate Eovaldi (No. 83), who was selected in the 11th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and became a Midseason All-Star for Single-A Inland Empire last season; RHP Allen Webster (92), who went 12-9 with a 2.88 ERA (3rd, Midwest League) for Single-A Great Lakes last season and was named a Midseason All-Star; and RHP Josh Lindblom (97), who set career highs with 40 games (10 starts) and 84 strikeouts last season while pitching for Triple-A Albuquerque. RHP Merkin Valdez could also see the mound this afternoon.
TRUE COLORS: Today is Military Appreciation Day at Camelback Ranch. Prior to the game, several recently deployed officers from nearby Luke Air Force Base will be recognized on the field and the National Anthem will be performed by Senior Airman Ivan Velezquez. Additionally, two Vietnam veterans will throw out ceremonial first pitches.
LEADERBOARD: Matt Kemp’s five Spring Training home runs are the most for a Dodger during the spring slate since Andre Ethier slugged six in 2008. Kemp is tied for second in the Cactus League lead in homers and is also tied for seventh on the circuit with 15 RBI. Not to be outdone, Tony Gwynn Jr. is tied for third in the league with six stolen bases and Clayton Kershaw finds his name among the leaders in ERA (2.49, T-6th) and innings (25.1, 3rd).
END OF THE LINE: The Dodgers’ Cactus League odyssey comes to a close this afternoon with their 33rd and final contest. The Indians will visit Camelback Ranch today, completing a 14-game home schedule for the Dodgers. Los Angeles lost to Cleveland, 2-1, all the way back on March 1 in Goodyear. The exhibition season rolls on tomorrow when the Dodgers return to Los Angeles to take on the Angels at Dodger Stadium in the first of a two-game home and home Freeway Series.
MORE HISTORY: Thursday marks the first time in Los Angeles Dodger history that the club will begin the season against the defending World Champions. In 1996, the Dodgers hosted the defending World Series Champion Atlanta Braves for the club’s home opener, but they began that season a week earlier in Houston. Since the World Series began in 1903, the only other time the Dodgers faced a defending World Series winner on Opening Day was April 12, 1922 when the Brooklyn Robins started the season at the Polo Grounds, facing the New York Giants.