THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NO. 1: MLB EXHIBITION: DODGERS vs. ARIZONA
Details/TV: At Phoenix, Wednesday at 12:10 p.m., SportsNet L.A.
So the skinny on Yasiel Puig is he’s put on a few pounds – he’s gone beyond the 250 mark upon entering the Dodgers’ spring training facility in Glendale, Ariz. He’s already been held out a couple of days’ worth of drills because of swelling above his right knee, the result of fouling a ball of his leg in batting practice. He has also been told to cut back on his long throws from the outfield after mentioning some shoulder soreness – coincidentally, as Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax voiced the opinion that the kid should dial it back a bit this early in the year.
Then there’s a video up on Sports Illustrated’s website off the Dodgers’ Vine account showing Puig drilling a pitch from teammate Kenley Jansen that must have landed somewhere by the In-N-Out beyond the Agua Fria Freeway. With all that’s going on around the 23-year-old, maybe he deserves to have his own cable channel, just to make sure we don’t miss anything on the daily run sheet.
In a way, such a thing exists. As the Dodgers launch their own SportsNet L.A. channel this week, just in time for the exhibition season to start, Puig’s every questionable move can be watched.
Kind of like that baby monitor you’ve hooked up to make sure all’s good in the crib when it’s out of view. In less than three weeks, selected members of the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will fly thousands of miles south of Arizona, and play two regular-season games in Australia to officially start the 2014 Major League Baseball season, and then come back wondering why they really agreed to do all that. Since the two teams were allowed to start spring training earlier than the other 28, it’s only proper these budding NL West rivals have the first exhibition game of the Grapefruit Season. Vin Scully will call it. Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch in it. Perhaps Puig will play in it. And references to “The Wild Horse” Version 2.0 will be game ready.
If only the Angels could figure out a way to do the same kind of 24/7 coverage of that Mike Trout character …
The rest of the Dodgers’ exhibition week:
vs. Arizona in Glendale, Ariz., Thursday at 12:10 p.m.
vs. Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Ariz., Friday at 12:10 p.m.
vs. Milwaukee at Phoenix, Saturday at 12:10 p.m.
vs. San Diego at Glendale, Ariz., Sunday at 12:10 p.m.
The Angels’ exhibition schedule begins with:
vs. Chicago Cubs in Tempe, Ariz., Friday at 12:05 p.m., FSWest
vs. Seattle in Peoria, Ariz., Saturday at 12:05 p.m., Prime Ticket
vs. Oakland in Tempe, Ariz., Sunday at 12:05 p.m., FSWest
THE BEST OF THE REST:
NBA: CLIPPERS at NEW ORLEANS, 5 p.m., Prime:
The 38 points that Blake Griffin scored in New Orleans during that over-hyped exhibition game a week ago — 19 of 23 from the field, even — doesn’t count for anything here. Look, he did it while wearing a T-shirt.
NBA: LAKERS at INDIANA, 4 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
The Pacers don’t have the Eastern Conference’s best record so far for nothing. They’re 26-3 at home. One reason: Indiana leads the league in fewest points allowed per game, at right around 90. The Packers allowed the Lakers to score 92but still pulled off a 12-point win at Staples Center about a month ago.
NHL: KINGS at COLORADO, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Net:
The first game back from the Winter Olympics break, and Jonathan Quick needs to quickly refocus. The semifinal loss to Canada was one thing, but the mind-numbing barrage he took in the bronze-medal loss to Finland is another. Aside from that, how does Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter turn it around and get up for games that are far less than for national pride? Last we checked, the Kings are 2-9 in their last 11 games. The Kings and Avs have gone into an OT or shootout in their previous two meetings, both at Staples Center, splitting the pair.
NBA: CLIPPERS vs. HOUSTON, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN:
Apologies again to Dwight Howard. You may check out any time you like from L.A., but you can never leave.
NBA: LAKERS at MEMPHIS, 5 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Once upon a time — on Dec. 17 – the Lakers actually defeated the Grizzlies on their home court by four points. But it took 21 points each from Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to do it.
NHL: KINGS at CALGARY, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
The lowly Flames have already snuffed out the Kings twice this season, both at Staples Center. They meet twice more after this, both also in Calgary. It may be a nice home visit for Kings coach Daryl Sutter, but still . . .
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA vs. OREGON, Pauley Pavilion, 8 p.m., ESPN2:
Travis Wear’s putback with 5.3 seconds to go gave the Bruins a 70-68 victory over Ducks at Eugene, Ore., on Jan. 30. Jordan Adams added 19 points. But then, UCLA’s latest loss to Stanford gives another moment to pause.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: USC vs. OREGON STATE, Galen Center, 8 p.m., FS1:
Another close call last time out: The Trojans took the Beavers into overtime before yielding 76-75, as Pe’Shown Howard had a chance to pull USC even after making the first of two free throws with 0.9 seconds left, but missed the second.
NBA: LAKERS vs. SACRAMENTO, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
This could be the saddest NBA game of the season, with the two last-place teams in the Western Conference, each at a 33.3 percent winning pace. What if neither team sufficiently claims a victory?
NHL: KINGS vs. CAROLINA, Staples Center, 1 p.m., FSW:
Hurricanes No. 1 goalie Cam Ward missed nearly all of January with a lower-body injury, but should be back in decent playing shape by now. The Kings, and Jeff Carter, beat him in a shootout way back in early October in their only previous meeting this season, 2-1.
NBA: CLIPPERS vs. NEW ORLEANS, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Enough with two games against the Pelicans in one week. Fly away home.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: USC vs. OREGON, Galen Center, 1 p.m., Pac-12 Network:
The Trojans were bogged down by a season-high 22 turnover in a 12-point loss to the Ducks recently.
NHL: PITTSBURGH vs. CHICAGO, At Soldier Field, Chicago, 5 p.m., Channel 4:
The Stadium Series ends with an outdoor game on the Chicago Bears’ home field – they’ve already done this at the Cubs’ Wrigley Field. A football field shape makes far better sense – and more than doubles the fan volume – than the baseball dimensions. Next attempt at this could be delaying it to St. Patrick’s Day and getting out on a frozen part of the Chicago River after they dump all the green dye into it.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: LOUISVILLE at MEMPHIS, 11 a.m., Channel 2; LSU at FLORIDA, 1 p.m., Channel 2:
Can you smell March Madness yet? On the first day of the month, CBS shines a light on the Billy Donovan’s Gators, the SEC leaders and ready to leap into the AP No. 1 spot after Syracuse’s back-to-back losses. (ESPN also has Florida on its schedule this week – at Vanderbilt, Tuesday at 4 p.m. – as well as Syracuse – vs. Maryland, Monday at 4 p.m.)
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA vs. OREGON STATE, Pauley Pavilion, 6 p.m., FS1:
At the Bruins’ final home game of the season, the school will honor its 1973 30-0 national championship team (Bill Walton, Keith Wilkes, Larry Farmer, Greg Lee, et. al.) during a pre-game reception and halftime ceremony. Right about the same time they’re handing out Oscars at the Academy Awards. But don’t get distracted: The Bruins’ last loss in conference play was a 71-67 slip up at Oregon State three weeks ago.
NASCAR: THE PROFIT ON CNBC 500, at Avondale, Ariz., noon, Channel 11:
Wasn’t this Sprint Car event once called the Subway Fresh Fit 500? The Phoenix International Raceway has been thrown for a loop with this naming rights deal. Wouldn’t it make more sense to actually cover it on CNBC?
GOLF: PGA HONDA CLASSIC:
At Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., final round, noon, Channel 4:
Tiger Woods may respectfully blow off other tournaments, but he signed up for this weeks ago. “The Honda Classic is close to my home, and I want to support it whenever I can,” he said on his website. Soon enough, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy joined in, putting the three of them together for the first time on the PGA National course. Before long, the world’s top eight ranked players were on board, as were Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell, Charl Schwartzel, Luke Donald and Keegan Bradley. Still, someone named Michael Thompson is the defending champ, giving him his only PGA Tour win in 86 events. It’s the first of four in a row staged in Florida. Golf Channel has the first two rounds Thursday and Friday at noon, NBC has the final rounds.