Clayton Kershaw, Yasiel Puig, Corey Seager active for Dodgers’ tilt with San Francisco Giants.

Opening Day starter Clayton Kershaw will try to lower his 18.00 earned-run average today before a sold-out crowd at Camelback Ranch.

Manager Don Mattingly announced Sunday morning that Kershaw will take the ball March 22 in Sydney, Australia. The 25-year-old left hander will only have one Cactus League start after today before the regular season begins.

Yasiel Puig bats third today after leaving the team to attend to a personal matter Saturday.

Infield prospect Corey Seager is in uniform for the game, wearing number 91. So are minor leaguers Ozzie Martinez (#87), OF Jeremy Hazelbaker (#89), OF Scott Schebler (#90 and OF Noel Cuevas (#92). Minor league right-handers Steve Edlefsen (#84) and Justin Souza (#88) will back up Kershaw, Javy Guerra and Red Patterson.

Here are the lineups for today’s game:

Giants:
Angel Pagan CF
Juan Perez LF
Brandon Belt 1B
Buster Posey C
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Joaquin Arias SS
Brandon Hicks 2B
Tyler Graham RF
Edwin Escobar LHP

Dodgers:
Chone Figgins CF
A.J. Ellis C
Yasiel Puig RF
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Justin Turner 3B
Mike Baxter LF
Alex Guerrero 2B
Miguel Rojas SS
Clayton Kershaw LHP

Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Hyun-Jin Ryu to follow, Dodgers announce.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw will start his fourth consecutive Opening Day, the Dodgers announced Sunday. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

The Dodgers announced Sunday, finally, that Clayton Kershaw will be their Opening Day starter in Sydney, Australia on March 22. Hyun-Jin Ryu will pitch the March 23 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kershaw has started every Opening Day for the Dodgers since 2011. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2011 and 2013. Last year, he won his third consecutive National League earned-run average title (1.83) to go along with a 16-9 record and a league-leading 232 strikeouts.

Even though he was the obvious choice in the middle of another injury-free (albeit ineffective) spring training, Kershaw’s status was still up in the air until Sunday. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly repeatedly declined to name his starters for the two games in Sydney, saying only that he was preparing four pitchers to start the games until Zack Greinke suffered a mild right calf strain in his Cactus League debut.

That left Kershaw, Ryu and Dan Haren as the obvious choices to start the two games.

The Diamondbacks previously announced that left-hander Patrick Corbin will start Opening Day in Sydney and right-hander Trevor Cahill will start the second game.

Ryu was outstanding as a 26-year-old rookie, going 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA in the first year of his six-year, $36 million contract with the Dodgers. He’s allowed two runs in two Cactus League starts.

Kershaw has been downright bad in the early stages of spring, but that’s become typical for the 25-year-old. In his first two starts, Kershaw has pitched just four innings and allowed eight runs. Opponents are batting .368 against him. Last spring, Kershaw went 2-3 with a 4.18 ERA.

Because the Dodgers don’t play another game for another four days after the Sydney series, the season-opening rotation is difficult to predict. Expect Haren, Greinke (if he’s healthy), and Josh Beckett and/or Paul Maholm to get some work in during the Freeway Series against the Angels on March 27-29.

The Dodgers’ first game in North America is March 30 in San Diego.

Daily Distractions: Seth Rosin, still a work in progress, makes a good first impression with Dodgers.

Seth Rosin

Seth Rosin is trying to make the Dodgers’ roster as a Rule 5 draft pick. (Associated Press photo)

Seth Rosin has never pitched above Double-A in his life. The 25-year-old right-hander doesn’t look like a rookie at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds. On the mound Wednesday, he didn’t pitch like one.

Rosin, whom the Dodgers selected in the Rule 5 draft pick in December, faced seven Arizona Diamondbacks batters and struck out five. After the game, Rosin sounded like a kid who had just faced major-league hitters for the first time. He didn’t hide the truth.

“It was really fun to pitch against guys like (Paul) Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock,” he said. “You see them on TV. You always wonder, ‘what would I do if I could pitch against them?’ It was a lot of fun.”

The experience wasn’t as fun for Goldschmidt and Pollock, both of whom struck out in their only at-bat against Rosin. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called it a “good first impression.”

Rosin gets by on three pitches: A fastball that tops out in the low-to-mid 90-mph range, a slider and a changeup. He said the changeup did most of the damage Wednesday.

The performance was more remarkable when you consider that Rosin’s mechanics are still a work in progress. The Dodgers’ coaching staff, including bullpen coach Chuck Crim, has suggested some tweaks — mostly focused on Rosin’s lower body — designed to add a couple more ticks on the radar gun.

Ben WeberRosin threw entirely out of the stretch. His condensed windup was deliberate nearly to the point of being awkward, almost a less exaggerated version of former Angels reliever Ben Weber (right).

Rosin described his mechanics Wednesday as a mixture of old and new.

“It wasn’t fully incorporated, what I’ve been doing in the dry work, but it’s a process,” he said. “I wasn’t going to go out there and try something totally new in front of the coaches my first time out there. Hopefully by the last couple games in spring training it’s going to be 100 percent there and everything’s going to be like I want it to be.”

For Rosin to make the Dodgers, he’ll need to string together more performances like Wednesday’s. Even then, he might need an injury or two to befall one of the right-handed middle relievers ahead of him on the depth chart — Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, Brandon League, Chris Withrow, Jamey Wright, Jose Dominguez and Javy Guerra.

If Rosin isn’t on the 25-man roster to begin the season, Rule 5 dictates that he must be designated for assignment and placed on waivers, where any of the other 29 teams can claim him.

Some bullet points for a Dominican Independence Day:
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Arizona Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 1.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw gave up five hits and three runs in two innings in his first Cactus League start. (Getty Images)

The Dodgers are 0-1. Clayton Kershaw has a 13.50 earned-run average.

“If it wasn’t for that Kershaw guy we’d be in good shape,” manager Don Mattingly quipped.

The takeaways from the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 4-1 victory over the Dodgers at Salt River Fields on Wednesday were limited, to put it mildly.

Among the more meaningful performances, Yasiel Puig twice faced Brandon McCarthy, who will almost certainly be in the Diamondbacks’ major-league rotation if he’s healthy. Puig singled to right field in his first at-bat and doubled in his second at-bat. The latter hit gave the Dodgers their only run when Carl Crawford scored all the way from first base.

Kershaw pitched two innings, allowed five hits, three runs (all earned), walked one and struck out two. He threw 42 pitches — 26 strikes — then “faced two hitters” by throwing about 15 more pitches in the bullpen.

“I wasn’t throwing the ball where I wanted to,” he said. “There were some off-speed pitches I needed to throw better. That one to Montero I struck him out on was probably up, honestly. That one that Pollock hit, there’s just some balls that I left up. Just a lot to work on.”

Kershaw didn’t downplay his pitching line.

“I’m a results-based guy,” he said. “I want to see outs. Today left a lot to be desired.”

The Diamondbacks scored their final run in the eighth inning off Ross Stripling.

Some more postgame notes and observations:
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Daily Distractions: Some not-so-final thoughts on home plate collisions.

Brian Jordan

Home plate collisions are rare and exciting, but their elimination was a calculated risk by Major League Baseball. (Associated Press photo)

In my story for today’s newspaper about the Dodgers’ reactions to the new rule banning home-plate collisions, I focused on the micro: The thoughts in the moment, the individual experiences that gave birth to the thoughts in the moment.

Here are some big-picture figures and facts worth mentioning:

A.J. Ellis is entering his 12th season of professional baseball. He’s played 890 games and estimates that he’s been part of “a dozen or more” home-plate collisions in his career.

Tim Federowicz is entering his seventh season of professional baseball. He’s played 568 games and has been involved in two collisions.

Drew Butera is entering his 10th professional season. Six hundred ninety two games, “five or six” collisions.

In reality, the scope of Rule 7.13 banning home-plate collisions in baseball is extremely limited. The three catchers on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster have played a total of 2,150 professional games — the equivalent of 13 full seasons, and then some — and have been part of a total of 20 collisions. Let’s call it one collision every 100 games.

The plays are memorable precisely because they are rare. “In all of them,” Butera said of his collisions, “they were in close games, toward the end of the game.” Fans remember those kind of plays.

That said, the tradeoff for the league was a calculated one.

Those are the facts, and baseball isn’t hiding them. If anything, the tipping point might have been when Joe Mauer visited the Mayo Clinic following a concussion and came back a first baseman.

Still, Federowicz wasn’t convinced that he’s entirely safer because of the rule.

“Instead of being able to hit us in the chest,” he said, “they have to take out our knees. I guess we have to learn a new technique for tagging guys out.”

Remember, rule 7.13 is “experimental” for this season. If catchers are still in line for serious injuries, the league will simply change the rule.

Some bullet points for a Soviet Occupation Day:
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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers love Australia! (Sure they do.)

Dan Haren

Clayton Kershaw (left) and Dan Haren (right) figure to be on the plane to Sydney, Australia to begin the 2014 regular season. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A scrum of reporters was gathered in one corner of the clubhouse Monday, surrounding a player with questions that had nothing do with Sydney, site of the Dodgers’ regular-season opener March 22. Once the questions and answers stopped, the player tacked on three words with a poo-eating grin: “I love Australia!”

Earlier, pitcher Dan Haren was asked about being on a short list of pitchers who might start one of the Dodgers’ season-opening games against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“Which answer do you want, the politically correct answer?” Haren said. “I think Stan (Kasten, the Dodgers’ president) would probably like me to give the politically correct one.”

The fallout from Zack Greinke‘s candid comments about beginning the season in Australia was ringing loud and clear in the clubhouse Monday. Greinke told ESPN.com Saturday that “I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for (the trip). There just isn’t any excitement to it. I can’t think of one reason to be excited for it.”

Haren wouldn’t go that far. He has orders not to. But he articulated a few more practical concerns about the trip Monday.

“Going over there, it’s going to be tough but we have to think of the games as real regular-season games. We have to turn the switch on,” he said. “In regards to the actual trip, it’s going to be a lot to handle, especially for the starting pitchers making the trip. But are we really complaining about flying a charter plane, staying at a hotel, all-expenses paid? I really don’t want to be complaining about it.

“That’s a lot to ask for the players, but I think everyone understands why we’re doing it. We’re trying to build the brand, I guess. We just have to welcome it I guess.”

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has not said who will start the two games. He’s said that five starters might be too many to bring for two games, so the top four — Clayton Kershaw, Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Haren — figure to be on the plane.

“We don’t really know who’s pitching or anything yet,” Haren said. “It would really stink to fly 30 hours and not pitch, I guess. I really don’t know what my role is going to be there.”

Kasten said Sunday afternoon that he had not been approached by organizers of the Australia games. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that this might change.

Haren doesn’t want to give the Australians anything more to complain about, and not because he fears a public booting.

“I’m new on the team,” Haren said. “I only have a one-year contract.”

Some bullet points for a Mexican Flag Day:
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Daily Distractions: Dodgers aren’t counting on Matt Kemp to appear in Sydney games.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp hasn’t begun running in spring training. The Dodgers depart for Australia on March 16. (Associated Press photo)

Don Mattingly solved the “The Four Outfielder Problem.” For two games, at least.

The Dodgers’ manager doesn’t believe that Matt Kemp will be available for the Dodgers’ season-opening trip to Sydney, Australia on March 22. Kemp hasn’t been cleared to run on flat ground and won’t be until he undergoes an MRI exam next week.

“I don’t think we’re — we’re not hopeful for Australia,” Mattingly said. “The MRI next week … will let us know where he’s at.”

Kemp is facing live pitching on a minor-league field at Camelback Ranch today. Throughout spring training he has been able to maintain his weightlifting regimen and exercise on an AlterG anti-gravity treadmill.

But that is different from running on flat ground, or patrolling the outfield, or turning around first base.

“It’s just the fact that he hasn’t been on the grass, running and cutting,” Mattingly said. “How long that takes, once they clear him to start that type of thing, that will be a progression.”

For now, expect an outfield of Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig in Australia — if all are healthy.

Some bullet points for an International Mother Language Day:
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SportsNet LA releases details about its initial night of programming.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully will work the first Dodgers spring training telecast on SportsNet LA. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers announced the programming lineup for launch night of SportsNet LA, the team-owned network set to debut next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The evening will begin with “Access SportsNet: Dodgers,” followed by the inaugural episode of “Backstage: Dodgers,” back-to-back “Connected With…” interview shows featuring Clayton Kershaw and Don Mattingly and a one-hour retrospective special about last year’s season.

Among the other “prominent Dodger personalities” that will be featured that night are co-owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson, broadcaster Vin Scully, and special advisor Tommy Lasorda.

SportsNet LA is still attempting to find carriers in addition to Time Warner. As of right now, only Time Warner subscribers will be able to tune in when the network goes live. A spokesperson for the network said that the channel number still hasn’t been announced.

Here are some more details, provided by the team, about SportsNet LA’s debut-night programs:

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Irregular schedule, short winter means the Dodgers will limit Clayton Kershaw early in 2014.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw has thrown 236, 227 2/3 and 233 1/3 innings the last three seasons, respectively . (Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw can stay on regular rest and pitch the Dodgers’ first game of the season (March 22 in Australia), their first regular-season North American game, (March 30 in San Diego) and their home opener (April 4 against San Francisco).

It’s a nice luxury to have, but Don Mattingly was quick to point out the drawbacks of that plan Sunday.

“I feel like it is” pushing it, Mattingly said. “I think we all kind of are cautious about that. ‘Hey, yeah, let’s do that, that sounds really good’ — I don’t think anybody looks that and goes, ‘that sounds really good.’ It’s, ‘we’ve got to be careful about what we’re doing.’

“We have off-days early. We want to take advantage of them.”
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Daily Distractions: Because it’s never too soon, sizing up the Dodgers’ 2015 rotation.

Zach Lee

Zach Lee will attend his first spring training this weekend. Will he be in the Dodgers’ rotation in 2015? (Associated Press photo)


Today, we look ahead to next fall because, well, why not?

Josh Beckett, Dan Haren and Chad Billingsley — if the Dodgers decline his option — will become free agents after this season. Do the Dodgers have two pitchers in their system who would be ready to fill the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation by 2015?

Maybe. Zach Lee continues to be ranked as a top-100 prospect with middle-of-the-rotation potential. Ross Stripling could be closer than Lee to reaching the majors, depending on who you talk to in the organization. Julio Urias is 17, so probably not. The jury’s still out on the potential of Matt Magill, Seth Rosin and a few others.

The jury’s still out on all of them, actually, since you simply never know how much time a prospect needs to reach his potential. And if the Dodgers’ transactions log over the past two years indicates nothing else, it’s that they prefer proven performance to potential.

So who’s in the next wave of free-agent starters? The list could include Max Scherzer, James Shields, Justin Masterson, Homer Bailey and Jon Lester. Even if Scherzer gets a big extension from the Detroit Tigers, as expected, that’s still a strong class — stronger than this year’s, certainly. All of the Dodgers’ free-agent decisions this year were made with potential 2015 free agents in mind. (That principle applies every winter.)

In the linked piece, FanGraphs.com’s Dave Cameron concludes that Scherzer, Lester and Bailey are the most likely to re-sign long-term extensions. That potentially leaves Shields and Masterson as the cream of the 2015 crop. Depending on their health and performance in 2014, they would almost certainly be the best fourth starters in baseball if they joined the Dodgers.

Cameron predicts that Shields could command a five- or six-year contract “and probably close to the $25 million AAV that many of the better pitchers have attained recently.” Shields turned 32 in December. Despite his career WAR of 28.0 in eight seasons, that’s still quite a bit of risk to take on.

But so is giving the job to a prospect.

Taken together, who do you like in the group to fill out the 2015 rotation?

Some bullet points for a Tuesday morning:
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