Mar. 27, 2012; Peoria, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder James Loney bats in the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
The Dodgers face their first left-hander of the season Friday night as Cory Luebke starts for the San Diego Padres. One hitter Luebke won't be facing is James Loney, who was given the night off Friday.
Loney hit .213/.254/.307 against lefties last season and has hit .252/.309/.368 off southpaws in his career. But manager Don Mattingly insists first base isn't in a straight platoon. Loney has one hit in seven at-bats against Luebke, with four strikeouts.
"He hasn't had a ton of at-bats [against Luebke], but the punchouts are what scares me. It tells me he doesn't see him well," Mattingly said. "I'm not going to go straight platoon — even if I did there would be 400-something at-bats — but the plan is to pick and choose. There are certain lefties he hits pretty good."
Tonight, Juan Rivera starts at first base, with Jerry Hairston Jr. in left field.
In 2011, Loney started 26 of 44 games against left-handed starters.
Clayton Kershaw is back at the ballpark tonight, feeling better than he did last night. "He said he couldn't stay in the hotel any longer," Mattingly said. Though Kershaw is expected to go back to the hotel soon.
Kenley Jansen, who allowed three home runs in nine spring training innings, and allowed a rocket home run off the bat of Cameron Maybin on Thursday, worked with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt on Friday on mechanics. Honeycutt spotted a variance in Jansen's delivery from late last year to this year, which as Mattingly explained the goal was to essentially keep his front side locked.
"I'm not really worried about Kenley, because he fell into the same thing last year at times," Mattingly said.
Justin Sellers described his feelings about his first opening day:
"It was incredible. I remember getting the chills twice when I was out on the line, during introductions and during the flyover. I remember watching opening day as a kid so many times, just dreaming and wishing that I could be there. For it to actually happen and be there on the line, it was a special feeling."
Game Time: 7:05 p.m.
TV: KCAL, MLB Network