Your ‘Carmaggedon’ Dodger Stadium survival guide.

Due to the closure of the 405 Freeway this weekend, the Dodgers will be opening auto gates early on Saturday and Sunday. Auto gates will be opened at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday for the 6:10 game and 10:30 a.m. on Sunday for the 1:10 start.

One alternative: The Dodger Stadium Express picks up fans at Union Station and continues to Dodger Stadium with service starting 90 minutes prior to the beginning of the games and concludes 45 minutes after the end of games. Shuttles make the trip to Dodger Stadium from Union Station every 10 minutes prior to the start of the game and run approximately every 30 minutes throughout the game.

John Ely, Joc Pederson win Branch Rickey Awards.

The Dodgers chose right-handed pitcher John Ely and outfielder Joc Pederson as the Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively.

They join a list of past winners that includes Pedro Martinez, Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Paul Konerko, Chin-lung Hu, Joe Thurston and Billy Ashley.

“It was a good season,” said Ely, who learned he won the award two days ago. “The accolades and all, they’re great. I’m just honestly happy to have put together the year that I did. The awards aside…this is where I want to be. That’s what I’m happy about, that (my season at Triple-A) was able to get me here.”

Both Ely and Pederson will be honored in an on-field pregame ceremony prior to tomorrow’s 7:10 p.m. Dodger game against the Colorado Rockies.

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Billingsley: No setbacks in throwing program.

Chad Billingsley continues to make progress from a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing) elbow.

The pitcher said Wednesday that he continues to throw from flat ground on back-to-back days, followed by one day of rest. He’s now able to make “about 35″ throws from up to 60 feet, and is on track to throw off a mound in “a couple weeks.”

It was initially feared that Billingsley might have to undergo Tommy John surgery,which would force him to miss all of the 2013 season. But as long as he continues to throw without pain, that seems less and less likely.

Why the Dodgers radically altered their lineup.

The Dodgers’ lineup got a last-minute makeover Wednesday, giving it an unfamiliar look for today’s game against the Padres:

Herrera LF
Punto 2B
Kemp CF
Gonzalez 1B
Ramirez SS
Cruz 3B
Rivera RF
Treanor C
Harang P

Two of the changes were brought on by injury. Shane Victorino was originally leading off, but his injured left wrist is preventing him from batting right-handed — the side he needs to bat from against Padres left-hander Clayton Richard. Second baseman Mark Ellis is ill and undergoing IV treatment today, manager Don Mattingly said.

The other changes weren’t. A.J. Ellis isn’t catching a day game after a night game, as usual. Andre Ethier is 4 for 28 with a double and four RBIs in his career against Richard, and .215/.270/.321 against all lefties this season, so he’s out in favor of Rivera (who’s 0 for 8 lifetime against Richard.
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A.J. Ellis receives Roy Campanella Award

The Dodgers didn’t know what they were going to get from A.J. Ellis this year, at 31 years old and an everyday major-league catcher for the first time in his life.

Seamlessly, Ellis has asserted himself as one of the National League’s best defensive backstops and an on-base machine — in the process giving Dodgers necessary stability at the most important defensive position and an everyday number eight hitter. He’s also handled a pitching staff that ranks third in the NL in ERA (3.42) and second in opponents’ batting average (.239).

For these reasons, Ellis was named the winner of the seventh annual Roy Campanella Award, given to the Dodger player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher. The award, which was voted upon by Dodger uniform personnel, will be presented to Ellis by Campanella’s daughter, Joni Campanella Roan, during pre-game ceremonies Saturday night.

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Kershaw in line to start Friday.

If he doesn’t miss another start, Clayton Kershaw has a chance to make two more starts in 2012. One will come Friday, when the Dodgers host the Colorado Rockies in a potential do-or-die scenario.

Manager Don Mattingly confirmed that Kershaw would start on regular rest Friday, saying “as long as Kersh is good — if nothing happens in the next day — at this point it’s Kersh.”

If the Dodgers lose their next two games in San Diego, and the St. Louis Cardinals win tonight in Houston, the Dodgers will have to beat the Rockies on Friday just to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. It’ll be an important game either way.

Adrian Gonzalez returns to Petco Park.

Adrian Gonzalez was on the field at Petco Park Tuesday, a couple hours before first pitch, when a crowd of roughly two dozen onlookers screamed his first name in unison. They were all wearing the same thing,navy-blue collared shirts and dark gray slacks that revealed their status as Petco Park employees.

Maybe each of them had a personal memory of Gonzalez, maybe not, but it was a nice moment emblematic of Gonzalez’s personal relationship with San Diego.

“We’ve just got to focus on winning,” Gonzalez said on the eve of his first game here since he was traded to Boston in December 2010. “But I was born here, grew up here, and so there’s definitely a lot more connection.”

When he came to the plate in the first inning, the reception was more lukewarm, a mix of boos and cheers from a typically small crowd. Many of those cheers came from Dodger fans.

But Gonzalez said before the game that the reception didn’t matter. San Diego is still home — literally –and he spent the Dodgers’ off-day Monday with his wife and daughter. “We went down to Chula Vista,” he said. “Had some really good tacos.”
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Decision on Kershaw coming tonight.

Clayton Kershaw threw a normal bullpen session prior to Tuesday’s game in San Diego and cleared himself to pitch “as soon as possible — tomorrow.”

The Dodgers won’t let Kershaw start on two days’ rest, but Kershaw’s upbeat evaluation was certainly good news for a team in search of a late-September miracle in their playoff chase. Kershaw’s return to health from the pain in his right hip is becoming a minor miracle of its own.

“I have no medical reasoning for why it feels good now and didn’t feel good before,” he said.

Manager Don Mattingly said that he would meet with general manager Ned Colletti on Tuesday night for a final decision on Kershaw’s next start. They seem to be leaning toward letting Kershaw to start on regular rest Friday against the Colorado Rockies.

“Everybody’s OK with the decision, what we’re thinking,” Mattingly said, “but it’s just a matter of making sure Ned’s involved with it, everybody else is involved with it.”

Kershaw said that he stopped doing lower-body lifting in the gym, but that’s been the only change to his between-starts routine.

“Everything’s been totally normal,” Mattingly said. “He’s doing everything that he would do after any other start throughout the course of the whole season. I saw him in the lobby yesterday and he’s like, ‘when am I pitching again?’ ”

Mattingly did allow for the possibility that Kershaw wouldn’t pitch if the Dodgers are out of playoff contention by Friday. In the worst-case scenario, the Dodgers would be six games out of the final wild-card spot with six games to play if they are swept by the San Diego Padres, and the Cardinals beat the Houston Astros in their next two games.

Kershaw has pitched 211.2 innings this season and 649.1 in the past three seasons combined.