The Dodgers on Thursday announced their starting lineup for their regular season opener against the Diamondbacks on Saturday, most notably with Justin Turner at second base and Andre Ethier continuing to climb the ladder in Dodgers history.
With the left-handed Wade Miley pitching for Arizona, manager Don Mattingly will opt for the right-handed Turner at second base over the left-handed Dee Gordon, who started Thursday's exhibition game and batted leadoff.
Using matchups — even though Turner in his career has a reverse platoon split, .247/.314/.330 against southpaws and .268/.328/.380 against righties — isn't much of a surprise, as Mattingly stated several times in camp in Arizona that he was comfortable using a combination of players at second base if needed, rather than a single, everyday starter.
"When it's all said and done, with our combination of guys, we're going to be in pretty good shape when we leave here," Mattingly said of second base in Arizona.
The start of Turner also hints at Alex Guerrero getting optioned to minor league camp when the Dodgers submit their 28-man Opening Day rosters on Friday night at 7 p.m. PT, six hours before game time. The Dodgers want Guerrero to get consistent at-bats to regain his timing after roughly a year away from playing competitively, and that's far more likely to come in the minor leagues than in the majors. If Guerrero doesn't get a start against a left-handed pitcher, it's hard to imagine much playing time for him at all right now in the majors.
For Ethier, he gets the nod in center field, batting seventh for just the third time since the start of the 2010 season. But it's also his eighth consecutive Opening Day start, putting him in select company in Dodgers history.
Ethier, who started in left field in 2008 but has otherwise made all his previous Opening Day starts in right field, has the longest streak of opening game starts by a Dodger since catcher Mike Scioscia started nine straight Opening Days from 1984-92. Ethier joins Ron Fairly (1962-69), Steve Garvey (1975-82), Dusty Baker (1976-83) and Hall of Famer Zack Wheat (1919-26) as Dodgers to start eight straight openers. The most consecutive Opening Day starts by a Dodger is 14, by Duke Snider (1949-62).
Another Opening Day streak belongs to Clayton Kershaw, starting on the mound for his fourth straight season, the first since Ramon Martinez (1995-98) to do that. In fact, Kershaw is just the fifth Dodger pitcher to start at least four consecutive Opening Days - at least dating back to 1914 - joining Don Drysdale (1958-61), Don Sutton (1972-78), Fernando Valenzuela (1983-86) and Martinez.
The Diamondbacks haven't yet announced their starting lineup, but here is the Dodgers' scheduled starting nine for Saturday's opener:
Yasiel Puig RF
Justin Turner 2B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B (L)
Scott Van Slyke LF
Juan Uribe 3B
Andre Ethier CF (L)
A.J. Ellis C
Clayton Kershaw P (L)