The Dodgers opened their 2020 season by signing outfielder Mookie Betts to a 12-year contract extension, and in his first game, Betts bats second.
Max Muncy is leading off for the Dodgers, with Betts following in Thursday’s opener against the Giants (7 p.m. PT, ESPN), a bit of a departure since leadoff figured to be Betts’ customary spot throughout the season. Betts batted first in every spring training and summer camp played this year.
Opening day lineups
|CF||Yastrzemski (L)||1B||Muncy (L)|
|1B||Sandoval (S)||CF||Bellinger (L)|
With the Red Sox, Betts batted leadoff in 72 percent of his starts, and had his most starts there in all six years in Boston. His second-most career starts at any spot in the batting order was batting second, with 78 starts.
The Dodgers alternated left- and right-handed hitters in the first eight spots of the lineup, something at least at the top of the order Dave Roberts said he plans to do for the foreseeable future.
“The way that the Giants, or any other team potentially, could try to deploy relievers to get matchups,” Dave Roberts said Thursday, “staggering left and right throughout the lineup I think protects us and poses some more challenges, and doesn’t give other teams a runway.”
A.J. Pollock is the Dodgers’ first-ever designated hitter against a National League opponent, batting eighth.
The first start of the season at second base goes to Kiké Hernandez, making his third straight Opening Day start at the position. He’s the first Dodger to start three straight Opening Days at second base since Jeff Kent started four straight from 2005-08.
Manager Dave Roberts this week said Hernandez and Chris Taylor would see the bulk of the time at second.
Dustin May makes a surprise start for the Dodgers, filling in for an injured Clayton Kershaw, who was placed on the injured list Thursday with back stiffness. and scratched from what would have been his ninth career Opening Day start.
Johnny Cueto starts for the Giants.
Austin Barnes starts behind the plate in the opener. Roberts on the Off Air podcast with Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser yesterday said Will Smith would start three of the first five games.
The two Dodgers who have faced Cueto the most have hit him quite well. Corey Seager is 12-for-34 (.353) with three home runs and a double against him, while Justin Turner is 11-for-31 (.355) with a home run and three doubles off Cueto.