04/05: Dodgers @ Pirates

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Interestingly enough, the Pirates and LA Dodgers have never met in a season opener. Now, the Brooklyn Dodgers did beat the Pirates twice on Opening Day (1953 and 1955), so there is some history there.

But before the 2010 season kicks off with a pitch from Zach Duke, let’s hit some pregame notes…

  • The Pirates’ batting order is as expected. Duke is hitting eighth and Andrew McCutchen is batting behind leadoff hitter Aki Iwamura. And though the Pirates never officially announced it, Jeff Clement is your first baseman du jour. He’s going to have to keep improving defensively, though, to keep that spot.
  • Six Pirates are on an Opening Day roster for the first time: McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Clement, John Raynor, Daniel McCutchen, Charlie Morton.
  • Octavio Dotel’s nine appearances on an Opening Day roster represents the club high.
  • Manager John Russell reported continued progress with right-hander Joel Hanrahan (right elbow injury). Hanrahan is eligible to come off the DL as early as April 10, but Russell said that Hanrahan’s pitching schedule has him lined up to come off on April 12. The Pirates haven’t publically said this, but you can expect Daniel McCutchen (who is pitching on April 11) to be sent down when Hanrahan comes off. Those dates sure do conveniently match up, huh?
  • By sending McCutchen down, the Pirates can keep him starting regularly. You’ll remember that his next two turns in the rotation were going to be skipped anyways. The Pirates can then use an eight-member bullpen for two weeks until another starter (could very well be Kevin Hart) is needed. This would also give the Pirates a total of three weeks to evaluate Hayden Penn.
  • For now, the Pirates plan on keeping Penn and D.J. Carrasco stretched out. Both would be long relief options if a starter is knocked out early.
  • There are no limitations with Dotel, who ended up pitching five innings in Grapefruit League play this spring after being slowed early by an oblique injury.
  • For anyone coming to the park today, gates open at 11:30 and on-field festivities will begin a bit before 1 pm. That includes a presentation to Andrew McCutchen, who was named Baseball America’s Rookie of the Year in 2009. Team introductions will begin shortly after 1.
  • The USA Today came out with its annual listing of Opening Day payrolls and has the Pirates sitting at $34.9 million. That is a 28 percent decrease from last year and the lowest payroll in the league. The season-ending payroll is obviously the bigger deal, but I know many of you were curious as to the current figure.
  • The Pirates have won three straight season openers. A fourth would give the club its longest string of season-opening wins since the Pirates won six straight from 1935-40.
  • This is the first time the Pirates have opened up at home since 2005. Overall, it’s just the 28th time the team has opened at home. In comparison, the Pirates have played 96 season openers on the road.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  6. Jeff Clement (1B)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Zach Duke (LHP)
  9. Ronny Cedeno (SS)

Dodgers lineup:

  1. Rafael Furcal (SS)
  2. Russell Martin (C)
  3. Andre Ethier (RF)
  4. Manny Ramirez (LF)
  5. Matt Kemp (CF)
  6. James Loney (1B)
  7. Casey Blake (3B)
  8. Blake DeWitt (2B)
  9. Vicente Padilla (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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