One of the best traditional rivalries in baseball and California will be renewed in just a few days when the Los Angeles Dodgers host the season’s opening game in Los Angeles vs. the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants on April 1. In recognition of the rivalry, ESPN will be broadcasting the game nationwide. Prospects look good for the Giants to work towards a repeat of their victory last year, with a big returning roster and some motivated pitchers, including Cy Young Award winners Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum, who will both be free agents after this year and need to impress. Zito stepped up last year, earning his first winning season of the last seven with the Giants and helping win crucial games in the playoffs and the first game of the World Series. In contrast, the younger Lincecum had his first losing season in seven years last year, but adjusted to a role of relief pitcher quite well, with a stunning .066 earned run average in relief. The Giants have great batters, including catcher Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval, but pitching should continue to prove their forte in the 2013 season. Whether or not the bearded reliever Brian Wilson, replaced as the Giant’s closer, returns, is still a slightly open question.
The Dodgers have no where to go but up. They start the new season with an injured shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, who hurt his thumb in the World Baseball Classic. But Dodger Manager Don Mattingly is reportedly impressed with Cuban defector Yasiel Puig, a new potential addition to the Dodger roster and a big hitter. In the Spring league, Puig is batting .500, has a team high 10 RBIs and has not walked once in 46 at bats. He is 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. Puig may start the season in the Dodgers minor league system but expect him to surface sometime this year on the LA roster. The Dodgers have a great lineup of players returning including pitcher Josh Beckett, outfielder Matt Kemp and infielder Juan Uribe. They have been through a lot, given the mixed-up ownership situation involving the McCourt family, and the new ownership group that has Magic Johnson as front man. Even through the turmoil, their second place finish in the National League West, 8 games behind the Giants and at 86 wins with 76 losses (.531 winning percentage) was not bad at all.
Photo courtesy sdportill, Flickr