Dodgers set lineup for opener against D-backs
Puig will lead off, Van Slyke to start in left with Crawford away from club
SYDNEY -- Yasiel Puig will bat leadoff, Justin Turner will bat second starting at second base and Scott Van Slyke will be the left fielder when the Dodgers open the regular season Saturday against Arizona at Sydney Cricket Ground.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly structured the lineup to face D-backs left-handed starter Wade Miley, keeping with his desire stated before Spring Training that he was intrigued with the idea of Puig leading off to get the dynamic player an extra at-bat each game.
Mattingly has dismissed concern over Puig's Spring Training, during which he hit .122 and didn't homer until Thursday night's exhibition against Team Australia.
The batting order following Puig and Turner: Hanley Ramirez, SS; Adrian Gonzalez, 1B; Van Slyke, LF; Juan Uribe, 3B; Andre Ethier, CF; A.J. Ellis, C; Clayton Kershaw, P.
Turner, a non-roster invitee, starts at second base because he is a right-handed hitter, indicating that Mattingly will go with a platoon there, as Dee Gordon figures to start against right-handed pitching. Gordon emerged over Cuban signing Alex Guerrero in the battle of converted shortstops.
Turner said he wasn't told if he's part of a platoon, but he considered the start even more exciting than being told last week that he made the club off a Minor League contract.
"It's my first Opening Day start," said Turner. "If I wasn't starting, I'd still be excited. But I'm lucky enough that they're starting a lefty tomorrow, that's just the cherry on top."
Turner said he's comfortable batting in the second spot, where patience is necessary when the leadoff hitter is on base in a steal situation.
"I can be patient, run deep counts, use the whole field," he said. "I can hit behind guys, move them up, I'm comfortable with that."
Van Slyke gets the nod in left field, which ordinarily would be patrolled by Carl Crawford, who remains in Arizona on paternity leave awaiting the birth of his child. When Crawford returns, he is expected to bat second behind Puig, with Gordon dropping to eighth.
Ethier is expected to remain in center field at least until the healthy return of Matt Kemp, who continues to rehab in Arizona from left ankle and left shoulder operations.
Mattingly said he expects Gonzalez to start even though the first baseman left Thursday night's exhibition game with lower back tightness. Gonzalez had a light workout Friday.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.