Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
MLB: Dodgers at Pittsburgh, 10:30 a.m., Prime Ticket:
It’s time for Dodger baseball. And then there’s Vicente Padilla, taking his time in taking the ball from Joe Torre on Opening Day, hoping to have a 3-0 lead when he comes out of the dugout to throw the bottom of the first against a bunch of Triple-A guys, and counting on 80-some pitches getting him through the first six innings for one of them quality starts. After a rough spring training, that’s the best he, and the team, can hope for. That, and he lasts longer than when Tiger Woods starts his Masters’ press conference (11 a.m., ESPN)
MLB: Angels vs. Minnesota, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW, ESPN2:
Not just another Halo season opener for Mike Scioscia, whose team is non-the-less a favorite to repeat in the AL West despite upgraded competition from Seattle and Texas. This time, no Vlad, Lackey and Figgy. Or Hud-Man. Or Rory Markas.
MLB: St. Louis at Cincinnati, 10 a.m., ESPN; Cleveland at Chicago White Sox, 11 a.m., ESPN2; Chicago Cubs at Atlanta, 1 p.m., ESPN; San Francisco at Houston, 4 p.m., ESPN2:
Musburger calls the first one from Cincinnati, Miller and Morgan have the night cap. Eat a hot dog or three in between.
College basketball: NCAA men’s championship: Duke vs. Butler, 6 p.m., Channel 2:
For some, this is a lead in to tonight’s “The Big Bang Theory.” Our theory on this one, echoing the words of Tim Layden in this most recent Sports Illustrated: “Often the Final Four confirms greatness. The UCLA Bruins of the 1960s and ’70s. Duke in the early ’90s. Florida in 2006 and ’07. And numerous others who won just a single title. This year the Final Four is trying to find greatness.” And tonight’s final is trying very hard to reward a champion, giving more bang for the NCAA’s bucks. It’s all relative.
NHL: Kings at Ducks, Honda Center, 7 p.m.:
Now that the Kings have secured a post-season berth … Nothing against J-Quick. But how quickly can Jonathan Bernier get back on the ice for another shot at recording a road shutout?
College basketball: NCAA women’s tournament championship: UConn vs. Stanford, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
As long as it doesn’t spill over into “Baseball Tonight,” let them play.
MLB: Angels vs. Minnesota, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:
Reports are that Wanda Wilson, the mother of Twins center fielder Denard Span, has not requested box seat tickets for this one next to the Minnesota dugout. Or anywhere near the field level.
MLB: Dodgers at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Game 2, and the Pirates players are already speculating amongst themselves which of them with the best long-range potential will have been traded away after the season opener? Clayton Kershaw must recheck his scouting report.
MLB: Angels vs. Minnesota, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:
Yup, that’s Orlando Hudson O-doggin’ it around second base for the Twins.
NBA: Clippers vs. Portland, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
It’s almost over.
Golf: The Masters’ Par 3 tournament, noon, ESPN:
In the past, Tiger Woods would ask for and receive a 7 a.m. tee-time for this so he could be finished early and get out of there. Is it good PR to do the same this time?
Golf: The Masters, first round, 1-4:30 p.m., ESPN (live; 5-to-8 p.m. taped); highlights, 11:35 p.m., Channel 2 (second round Friday the same; rounds three and four on Channel 2, Saturday from 12:30 to 4 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.):
Before you get situated with your DirecTV’s “Master’s Experience” (Channel 701 for the four-screen look to see the featured group on Channel 703, go to Amen Corner on Channel 704 and hit holes 15 and 16 on Channel 705), check out what Brad Faxon wrote in the SI Golf 2010 Masters Preview: “Here are my best guesses at Tiger’s four scores if the weather’s good, followed by Tiger’s postround analysis: 73 (a little nervous out there); 69 (didn’t want to have the weekend off); 71 (couldn’t buy a putt); 68 (getting used to competition again). Can Tiger win at seven under? Maybe not. But come Sunday afternoon we’ll all be thinking about the possibility and he will too.” What else will he be thinking about? We can only guess.
MLB: Dodgers at Pittsburgh, 9:30 a.m., Prime Ticket:
Get-away day means Chad Billingsley must get his head straight and work fast enough to find the charter jet by sundown.
MLB: Angels vs. Minnesota, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 13:
At this point, the Twins’ Joe Mauer leads the AL with a 1.402 batting average.
NBA: Lakers at Denver, 7:30 p.m., TNT, Channel 9:
Nuggets coach George Karl is undergoing an intense, 45-day cancer treatment of chemotherapy that causes so much pain to his mouth and throat that he can’t eat. Meanwhile, the Nuggets have fallen from second to fifth in the Western Conference standings. It’s lose-lose, and the NBA is not better for it. More on Karl’s recovery at mylifeline.org/georgekarl.
NBA: Clippers at Sacramento, 7 p.m., Prime Ticket:
NHL: Kings vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Look how far these Coyotes have come without an owner to get in the way. Other teams may look at this and follow suit. And lawsuits.
Minor League Baseball: Cal League openers: Lancaster at Bakersfield, Inland Empire at Rancho Cucamonga, High Desert at Lake Elsinore:
Single-A ball. Catch it. No, really. Get out there.
MLB: Dodgers at Florida, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Hiroki Kuroda gets the call in Game 4. The over/under on saves for Broxton by now should be 3.5.
MLB: Angels vs. Oakland, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:
If the A’s are wise, they have Ben Sheets throw every game this season until he breaks down. Again.
NBA: Lakers at Minnesota, 5 p.m., Channel 9:
And someone is still talking about a Lakers’ 60-win season. Meanwhile, don’t look now, but the T’wolves could have a worse record than the Nets.
MLB: Dodgers at Florida, 4 p.m., Channel 9:
The turn for Josh Johnson, whom the Marlins gave $39 million this last offseason to be their No. 1 starter, comes up again, and there’s a good chance he’ll already be 1-0 after facing the Mets on Opening Day.
MLB: Angels vs. Oakland, Angel Stadium, 6 p.m., FSW:
Quick, name the A’s starting outfield. Coco Crisp . . . we give. Billy Beane probably can’t do it either.
College hockey: NCAA men’s final, 4 p.m., ESPN:
From Ford Field in Detroit, where on April 1, 2007, WrestleMania 23 set a stadum attendence record with 80,103.
NBA: Clippers at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Did you know: The Clippers and Warriors share the same D-League team, the Bakersfield Jam. A team that’s second-to-last in the Western Conference with a 17-31 record going into last weekend. So, no, there isn’t any real reason for either team to be calling up help for lost seasons. As for the only team worse than them in the conference? The Lakers’ D-Fenders.
NHL: Kings vs. Edmonton, Staples Center, 1 p.m., FSW:
Last home game, so oil up the Zamboni by throwing discarded Oilers under the chassis.
NBA: Lakers vs. Portland, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7; NHL: Kings at Colorado, noon, FSW; MLB: Dodgers at Florida, 10 a.m., Prime Ticket and Angels vs. Oakland, Angel Stadium, 12:30 p.m., Channel 13:
They all go up against the final round of the Masters. We’re searching eBay for a slightly used screen-in-a-screen-in-a-screen-in-a-screen big screen.