Dodgers And Angels: Your Guide To Opening Day In LA And Beyond
It's that time of year, and we're here to get you ready for some L.A. baseball.
Opening day details
💙 L.A. Dodgers v. Arizona Diamondbacks
- 7:10 p.m. @ Home
❤️ L.A. Angels v. Oakland Athletics
- 7:07 p.m. @ Oakland
What to expect from the Dodgers
During the off-season, the Dodgers chipped in more talent to the large ex-Dodger diaspora scattered around Major League Baseball.
Now playing elsewhere:
- All-Star shortstop Trea Turner
- Former rookie of the year Cody Bellinger
- Fan favorite third baseman Justin Turner
- All-Star pitcher Tyler Anderson
They join a dugout full of skilled players who’ve worn Dodger Blue in recent seasons and moved on.
And yet, the Dodgers are still among the elite teams in baseball and a virtual lock to make the playoffs for the 11th year in a row. You’ve heard of Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Clayton Kershaw, right?
The Dodgers have signed slugger J.D. Martinez, pitcher Noah Syndergaard, and shortstop Miguel Rojas, who join returning stars Max Muncy, Will Smith, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin. All three veterans are looking to bounce back after off-years spent rehabbing from injuries.
Rojas, who was supposed to be a utility player, is now the starting shortstop after Gavin Lux suffered a season-ending knee injury during spring training. But the real reason the Dodgers can lose talent and still win is because they’re so skilled at developing and promoting young talent.
Baseball writer Keith Law with The Athletic ranks the Dodger farm system as baseball’s best. Three products of that system will play prominent roles early in the season for the Dodgers. Some players to watch:
- Miguel Vargas has hit .300 in each of his four minor league seasons. The Dodgers expect he’ll hit like that in the big leagues, too. To get Vargas into the lineup, the Dodgers have moved him to second base, a position he rarely played in the minors.
- Outfielder James Outman hit a combined 31 homers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City last season. He homered in his big league debut in Colorado last season. He homered in Sunday’s spring game against the Angels — his first ever at Dodger Stadium. That power is why Outman begins this season on the Dodgers’ big league roster.
- Pitcher Ryan Pepiot debuted last season with starts in seven games. The Dodgers won five, but Pepiot had trouble throwing strikes. Since then, his off-season work and spring starts showed the Dodgers he’d fixed his control flaws enough to fill in as a starter until All-Star righthander Tony Gonsolin returns from a twisted ankle.
What to expect from the Angels
After seven straight losing seasons, about the only thing Angels were looking forward to in 2023 was Arte Moreno selling the team. Then Moreno changed his mind.
But there are still reasons to hope this will finally be a winning year in Anaheim, with maybe a visit to the playoffs. Perhaps a year like that will even give Shohei Ohtani, the greatest two-way player baseball has ever seen, reason to stay in Anaheim when he becomes a free agent after the season ends.
To help make all that happen, Angel general manager Perry Minasian used the off-season to bring in three good players:
- Outfielder Hunter Renfroe
- Infielders Brandon Drury and Gio Urshela
They’ll give the Angels something they needed but didn’t have in 2022: depth.
Injuries forced superstar centerfielder Mike Trout, third baseman Anthony Rendon, shortstop David Fletcher and first baseman Jared Walsh out of a combined 303 games last season. Their fill-ins ranked among the poorest-performing players in the big leagues — and the team’s record proved it.
The Angels have shown they can’t win with just Ohtani and Trout. Even young star outfielder Taylor Ward’s breakout season last year didn’t break out the Angels from another sub-.500 finish. But bringing three veteran players in Renfroe, Drury and Urshela can and should.
And that theory is already being put to the test. Walsh is dealing with bad headaches and has been sidelined to start the season. Catcher Max Stassi is also out with a sore hip. Veteran Jake Lamb, who can play at first base or in the outfield, takes Walsh’s spot for now. Rookie catcher Logan O’Hoppe — the Angels’ top prospect — will fill in for Stassi.
The Angels expect consistently good pitching in 2023 from starters Ohtani and lefties Reid Detmers, Patrick Sandoval, José Suarez and ex-Dodger Tyler Anderson, who won a career-high 16 games last season.
But there are still questions about the bullpen. New closer Carlos Estévez has been shaky in spring. That might mean nothing, but it might also mean the Angels’ search for bullpen help isn’t over.
Going to the ballpark
Dodger Stadium (1962) and Angel Stadium (1966) opened in an era in Southern California when making it easier for fans to come to the ballpark meant more asphalt parking lots.
But from then to now, the population of metropolitan Los Angeles has doubled to better than 12 million. That’s made driving to the ballpark for a weekday evening game a bumper-to-bumper bummer.
So what are the public transit options?
Dodger fans can take an L.A. Metro train to Union Station and hop on a Dodger Express bus for a free ride to the ballpark.
Angel fans can ride OCTA buses or ART (Anaheim Regional Transportation) shuttles to Angel Stadium. Check websites for routes and schedules.
(Note: Metrolink and the Angels used to operate the Angels Express from L.A. Union Station and Laguna Niguel to Anaheim’s ARTIC train station. It’s a short walk from the ballpark. But that affordable and convenient service ended with the pandemic and hasn’t returned.)
It’s possible to cobble together an affordable trip to and from the ballpark on regularly scheduled Amtrak trains, but be prepared to leave the game early to catch a train home or wait a long time at ARTIC for the next one.
However you get to the ballpark, there’s a good chance there’ll be something extra for you there. This season, the Dodgers and Angels will feature the usual fireworks shows, bobbleheads, T-shirts and hats.
So what’s new?
The Dodgers have scheduled several drone shows in place of fireworks, and the Angels have an Ohtani puzzle giveaway planned. Check the team promotional schedule for giveaways.
Watching on TV
Stephen Nelson has joined the Dodgers’ TV broadcast team this season. He’ll call the games when lead announcer Joe Davis has an assignment with Fox Sports.
The 34-year-old Nelson grew up in Orange County and graduated from Marina High School in Huntington Beach and Chapman University in Orange. He called games last season for Apple TV+. By joining the Dodgers, Nelson becomes the first Asian American broadcaster for an MLB team.
The Angels have also hired a new broadcaster: Wayne Randazzo. The 38-year-old Chicago native has been part of the Mets’ entertaining radio broadcast team since 2019. And like the Dodgers’ Stephen Nelson, Randazzo called the action on Apple TV+ baseball broadcasts last season.
Randazzo will be the TV announcer for the majority of Angel games this season, save for the occasional game when Matt Vasgersian or Patrick O’Neal are in the booth.
But the biggest change to the Angels’ TV broadcasts this season could come if Bally Sports loses the rights to those games. Bally parent company Diamond Sports Group LLC is seeking bankruptcy protection. It could lose the rights to 42 MLB, NBA and NHL teams, including the Angels.
There’s a long way to go before that happens. But if it does, MLB could take over team broadcasts and move them to its subscriber-based MLB.tv app with blackout restrictions removed.
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Stephen Nelson, 33, will call more than 50 games in the upcoming season.