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Day One at Camelback: Dodgers Ditch the DH

The view from the Camelback Ranch, today a few hours before the game.
The view from the Camelback Ranch, today a few hours before the game.

Cubs (9-5) at Dodgers (4-6-1)

1:05pm, Camelback Ranch, Glendale, AZ

Since this is my first game this year at Camelback Ranch, the Dodgers decided to break out the National League baseball rules for the first time this spring.  The Dodgers will play today without a designated hitter against the Cubs, which means Manny Ramirez will play left field for his first time, too.  Manny is expected to play about four innings in the field.

Chad Billingsley gets the start on the mound for the Dodgers, which means he will likely be the first Dodger pitcher to bat this spring.  Manager Joe Torre said he would like to see Billingsley get comfortable on the mound, and not try to be too perfect, which causes him to throw more pitches than he needs to.

No opening day starter has been announced yet, but Torre said he would announce his April 5 starter sometime this week.  When a few reporters asked if Clayton Kershaw would be the opening day starter, Torre played coy, saying only Kershaw "would make the trip to Pittsburgh."

The other opening day spot up for grabs is starting second baseman, which also has yet to be decided, although Torre seems to always speak highly of Blake DeWitt.  "He seems to be fine, he's swinging the bat real well," Torre said of DeWitt, "He's not going to play second defensively as well as Hudson or Belliard, but he's not shy about going after the ball. He's a good kid and has a good feel for the game." 

Perhaps the most relevant discovery from day one of my trip to Camelback Ranch is that Joe Torre does, in fact, drink Bigelow tea.  For more hard-hitting reporting, be sure to stay tuned, as I will be here through Sunday!

Here are the lineups::

Cubs      Dodgers
SS Theriot SS Furcal
RF Fukudome      CF Kemp
1B Lee RF Ethier
CF Colvin LF Manny
2B Fontenot 1B Loney
LF Soriano 3B Blake
3B Tracy 2B DeWitt   
C Soto C Ausmus
P Dempster P Billingsley  

Scheduled to follow Billingsley on the mound for the Dodgers today are Jeff Weaver, Charlie Haeger, and Luis Ayala.

Chris Withrow, fresh off his scintillating debut Sunday, is scheduled to pitch in relief Friday night in Peoria against the PadresHiroki Kuroda will get the start against San Diego's Wade LeBlancJames McDonald and Justin Miller are also expected to pitch in relief tomorrow for the Dodgers

TV: Prime Ticket