LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers’ first game of the 2017 season will begin with Andrew Toles at the top against the Padres on Monday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, a bit of a departure from what they used for most of the spring.
New second baseman Logan Forsythe batted leadoff in all 125 of his starts last year for the Rays, and started atop the Dodgers lineup in his first 18 spring starts as well. The only start this spring for Forsythe at somewhere other than leadoff was Saturday night, batting fifth against the Angels in the Freeway Series finale, when Toles batted leadoff.
“We like Andrew in the batters box against a right-handed pitcher, to get the speed element and that athletic ability,” manager Dave Roberts said. The other component was to have Logan in the middle to break things up. With Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal, there’s a lot of similarities with those guys, so we wanted a right-handed grinder in the middle there, and to surround Adrian with two right-handers.”
Yasiel Puig might have been that middle of the order right-hander instead of Forsythe, per Roberts, but Puig struggled during spring training, still fighting the mechanics of his swing, especially against right-handers.
“With Yasiel, we’re looking for him to be consistent. I think the at-bat quality needs to be consistent vs. left and right. I really didn’t see that throughout the spring against right-handed pitching,” Roberts said. “With Andrew against a right-handed pitcher, I like the at-bat quality, and I like the same with Logan.
“I hope Yasiel makes it tough on me to hit him down in the order. If he does that and plays up to what we all know he can and what he expects of himself, then it could change the construction of the lineup.”
Puig bats eighth on Monday.
Forsythe is the ninth different Dodgers opening day starter at second base in the last 10 years, with Mark Ellis (2012-13) the only two-timer during that span.
Monday also marks the first opening day start as a Dodger for Grandal, in his third season with the team. It is Grandal’s first career opening day start as well. His only previous opening day appearance came in 2014 against the Dodgers at Petco Park, walking as a pinch hitter and scoring.