I LIKE YOUR TIE: The Dodgers and Cubs meet for the first of four times this spring with Chicago right-hander Carlos Villanueva facing Los Angeles righty Chad Billingsley. The two clubs will meet again on Wednesday in Mesa, March 14 here in Glendale and then on March 21 in Tucson with the game proceeds benefitting the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation. In case you were wondering, there are 35 days until Opening Day!
The Dodgers and White Sox played to a 2-2 tie yesterday at Camelback Ranch as Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu combined for 3.0 scoreless innings and Luis Cruz hit the Dodgers’ first homer of the spring. Hanley Ramirez knocked in the Dodgers’ first run of the contest with an RBI single in the third to bring home Tim Federowicz, who doubled to lead off the inning, and non-roster invitee Brian Barden picked up a pair of singles in his two at-bats after entering the game as the designated hitter in the seventh inning.
Los Angeles will have four players venturing over from the minor league side today to suit up with the Major League club: RHP Ryan Acosta (#84), LHP Victor Garate (#95), RHP Blake Johnson (#82) and IF Rafael Ynoa (#83).
BILLS ON THE HILL: Chad Billingsley makes his first start of the spring this afternoon and will take the mound for the first time since Aug. 24 after missing the last month of the season with right elbow pain. Prior to the injury, Billingsley had been one of the game’s top pitchers in the second half, going 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA (9 ER/45.0 IP) in seven starts after the All-Star break. The 28-year-old right-hander has posted double-digit wins in each of the last six seasons and has never had a losing season at any level as a pro.
Left-hander Chris Capuano will see his first action of the spring in relief today after establishing a career-best mark with a 3.72 ERA in 2012. Capuano has made 25 relief appearances in his career, posting a 3.80 ERA in 42.2 innings.
RHP Matt Guerrier will make his first appearance of the spring after pitching in just 16 games last year in an injury-shortened season.
RHP Shawn Tolleson will make 2013 Cactus League debut after limiting opponents to a .221 batting average (.152 against right-handers) over 40 games last year in his first big league season.
LHP Paco Rodriguez became the fastest player from the 2012 First-Year Player Draft to reach the Majors last year after he was selected in the second round out of the University of Florida. Rodriguez, 22, tossed scoreless relief in 10 of his 11 big league appearances.
RHP Kevin Gregg will see his first action in Dodger blue after spending the 2012 campaign with Baltimore. Gregg, 34, is entering his 11th big league season.
REALIGNMENT: With Adrian Gonzalez receiving an off-day after starting both of the Dodgers’ first two Cactus League contests, Juan Uribe will make his first-ever start at first base this afternoon. The sure-handed infielder was the Dodgers’ designated hitter on Saturday, going 1-for-2, and has appeared in 1,355 games in his career with a .977 fielding percentage at second base (220 games), third base (259 games), shortstop (917 games) and center field (one game).
Dee Gordon (shortstop), Nick Punto (designated hitter), Ramon Castro (catcher), Alfredo Amezaga (third base) and Tony Gwynn Jr. (left field) will all make their first starts of the exhibition season this afternoon.
PRIME TIME: The Dodgers will make their first television appearance of the season today with Hall of Famer Vin Scully calling the action on PRIME TICKET. Scully enters his 64th season behind the mic in 2013 and will call six Cactus League contests for the Dodgers this spring.
Today’s 1:05 p.m. (12:05 p.m. PT) game will also be called by Charley Steiner and Rick Monday and can be heard on AM 570 Fox Sports Los Angeles, which will also feature Dodger Talk with David Vassegh and Jorge Jarrin tonight at 7:00 p.m. PT.
THE TOUR CONTINUES…: Today, MLB Network descended on Camelback Ranch for their annual 30 clubs in 30 Days tour. Eric Byrnes will be on-site talking to numerous Dodgers, including fellow outfielder Andre Ethier. The network also conducted a live interview with Ned Colletti and spoke with a number of Dodger players on their past WBC experiences.
YOU SEE THIS FACE?: Dodger center fielder Matt Kemp advanced to the finals of MLB Network’s #FaceofMLB and is currently facing off against Cincinnati’s Joey Votto in MLB Network’s bracket to decide who the Face of MLB is. The online hashtag battle (#MattKemp) started today and runs through Friday.