THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
MLB: DODGERS HOME OPENING SERIES
vs. SAN FRANCISCO
At Dodger Stadium, Friday (1:10 p.m., SportsNet L.A.), Saturday (1:10 p.m., Fox Sports 1), Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN2):
In the Dodgers’ hot-off-the-press 2014 media guide, the listing for Matt Kemp goes eight pages deep. He’s 22 home runs shy of matching Willie Davis for second on the Dodgers’ all-time franchise list for center fielders, behind Duke Snider. Could that happen this season? Kemp is also 34 games short of 1,000 in his career. Again, that could happen this year, right? His history of appearances on the disabled list is actually somewhat short – for 2013, for example, it lists just May 30-June 25 (mild right hamstring strain), July 6-21 (left AC joint inflammation) and July 22-Sept. 16 (left ankle sprain). That’s because not included there is the Sept. 29 decision to shut him down for a left-ankle injury – eliminating him right before the playoffs. That required surgery on Oct. 21, which was two weeks after he underwent a “left shoulder cleanup on his A-C joint.”
Kemp’s 2014 spring training was a constant slow-moving process as well, with another return to the 15-day DL, making him unavailable for the two-game opener in Australia. Unless there’s any giant setback, the 29-year-old will finally get to start his eighth big-league season when the Dodgers play their home opener against the Giants. Rihanna or not, Khloe or no other Kardashian, he says he’s ready.
“Rehab sucks,” Kemp declared before last Friday’s exhibition game against the Angels. “I’m not missing anything now. I’m ready to go.” A rehab assignment could happen also, pushing his return sometime beyond this early April target date. “I want him to be totally confident when he goes out on the field that he can be Matt Kemp,” says manager Don Mattingly. Confidence doesn’t seem to be what Kemp lacks – it’s stability as well as ability. According to the Dodgers’ DL, Josh Beckett is also eligible to come off on Friday. With Clayton Kershaw out of action until at least the first full week of April, Beckett could be back to fill this spot. This series is also important because some predict that the Giants will provide the main obstacles in the Dodgers’ pursuit of repeating as the NL West champs. The other implication of this matchup: Will most all of Southern California have the team’s new SportsNet L.A. channel by this time? If not, there could be more heck to pay.
BEST OF THE REST:
MLB: ANGELS SEASON OPENING SERIES
At Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW, ESPN2:
Jered Weaver takes the Opening Day start again, facing Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. But how Weaver does when he matches up against the Mariners’ new No. 3 hitter, Robinson Cano, will be most interesting. Cano is 12-for-30 lifetime (.400) against Weaver going back to his previous nine years with the Yankees. How far will a $240 million deal get the Mariners in the AL West? The team has hit below .240 the last four seasons. Cano hit .314 and drove in 107 runs last year.
The series includes:
Tuesday: 7:05 p.m., FSW (with the incentive of a Mike Trout bobblehead giveaway)
Wednesday: 7:05 p.m., FSW
CHICAGO CUBS at PITTSBURGH, 10 a.m., ESPN
BOSTON at BALTIMORE, noon, ESPN2
ST. LOUIS at CINCINNATI, 1 p.m., ESPN
COLORADO at MIAMI, 4 p.m., ESPN2
ESPN has locked up five of the 13 Monday openers – and they can’t work it out so Cincinnati gets the first pitch like back in the good ol’ days? The one we’d be most interested in here, actually, is the Royals and former Hart High standout James Shields facing Justin Verlander in Detroit.
NBA: CLIPPERS at MINNESOTA, 5 p.m., Prime:
What the T’wolves did to the Lakers last week, do not expect a repeat.
NHL: KINGS vs. MINNESOTA, Staples Center, 7 p.m., NBCSN:
The Wild’s wild-card position in the West doesn’t look unwieldy.
NHL: DUCKS vs. WINNIPEG, Honda Center, 7 p.m., KDOC:
They couldn’t get the NCAA basketball tournament out of there fast enough. The Ducks are giving out a Teemu Selanne poster for everyone who shows up.
MLB: DODGERS at SAN DIEGO, 3:40 p.m., SportsNet L.A.:
The “domestic” season opening series for the Dodgers continues — Sunday’s game was originally scheduled for tonight until ESPN yanked it away. It’s the first real look at Zack Greinke against Ian Kennedy. Too bad Carlos Quentin is back on the Padres’ DL. Staying healthy has long been a struggle for Quentin — this is the seventh time in his nine-year career he’s disabled. The former All-Star has never played more than 131 games in a season and has crossed the 100-game threshold on just three occasions. Maybe he should stop getting hit by pitches.
Also: Wednesday at 7:10 p.m., SportsNet L.A.
NBA: LAKERS vs. PORTLAND, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
The Blazers continue to lead the league in rebounds per game (46.3). Because they miss a lot of shots? LaMarcus Aldridge continues to gobble up the most.
UCLA SPRING PRACTICE, Spaulding Field, 7 a.m.:
Just three months after their Sun Bowl win over Virginia Tech on New Year’s Eve, the Bruins have the first of 14 workouts before the Spring Showcase moves to StubHub Field in Carson on April 26. No hard tackling on Brett Hundley or Myles Jack, of course.
NBA: LAKERS at SACRAMENTO, 7 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Perhaps some kids left from the state high school basketball championships last week at the famed Sleep Center Arena will hang around and try out. For either team.
NBA: CLIPPERS at PHOENIX, 7 p.m., Prime:
The Suns could come into this with a seven-game winning streak.
NHL: KINGS vs. PHOENIX, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN:
For the second time in three nights, the Kings play at home against the team from the same city where the Clippers have a road game. It’s not that complicated, but you get the point.
SOCCER: U.S. vs. MEXICO
At Glendale, Ariz., 8:15 p.m., ESPN:
Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez are required to be in attendance for this friendly for a U.S. team that looks more like an MLS All-Star squad.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL:
McDONALD’S EAST-WEST GAME
At Chicago, 6:30 p.m., ESPN:
Picked for the 12-man West roster is UCLA-bound 7-foot-center Thomas Welsh (Loyola High) and Mater Dei’s Stanley Johnson, headed to Arizona. UCLA recruit Kevon Looney (right), the 6-foot-8 forward out of Milwaukee-Hamilton High, will play for the East. Duke, led by No. 1 recruit Jahil Okafor, has four players in this game, as does Kentucky.
NHL: KINGS at SAN JOSE, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN:
With a franchise-tying eight-game road winning streak, there should be no great alarm that four of the Kings’ last five regular-season games are away from home, starting with this one. The Kings have also knocked off the current Pacific Division-leading Sharks three times this season, including 1-0 when they were last in San Jose on Jan. 27, which ended a five-game losing streak. Sharks center Joe Pavelski has three hat tricks this season, his last coming a week ago at Edmonton.
NBA: CLIPPERS vs. DALLAS, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
The Mavericks’ late push for that No. 8 spot in the Western Conference doesn’t look so good.
77th NIT FINAL
At Madison Square Garden in New York, 4 p.m., ESPN:
Larry Brown’s 26-9 SMU team has won three in a row (vs. UC Irvine, LSU and Cal) to draw a matchup against Clemson in one semifinal (Tuesday, 4 p.m., ESPN2). The winner meets either Florida State or Minnesota (Tuesday, 6 p.m., ESPN2) to end this 32-team event for those who didn’t make it into the NCAA field of 68.
NBA: LAKERS vs. DALLAS, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
The Mavericks’ late push for that No. 8 spot in the Western Conference looks better.
MLB: ANGELS at HOUSTON, 5:10 p.m., FSW:
The difference in 2014 payrolls for these AL West fast friends: The Angels ($155.6 million) has a slight lead over the Astros ($44.5 million).
Saturday at 4:10 p.m., FSW
Sunday at 11:10 a.m., FSW
NCAA MEN’S FINAL FOUR at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas:
CONNECTICUT vs. FLORIDA, 3 p.m., TBS
WISCONSIN vs. KENTUCKY, 5:45 p.m., TBS
There’s no way your bracket had a seven-seed like UConn going this far. The Huskies may have won the national title in 2011, with Jim Calhoun as the coach. But aside from the fact the NCAA declared the program ineligible to be part of last year’s tournament because of academic progress standards, coach Kevin Ollie just didn’t seem to have the buzz to get into the Final Four. Until Shabazz Napier caught fire. His 25-point game against Michigan State in the East Region final gave the Huskies their 30th win in a row and led to a tweet from @UconnHuskies: “Sorry about busting your bracket @BarackObama … we have room on our bandwagon if you’re interested.” Back on Dec. 2, Napier scored 26, made a four-point play with 33 seconds left and then hit a buzzer-beater off a missed free throw as then-No. 14 UConn defeated No. 12 Florida, 65-64, at Storrs, Conn (above). That was the last loss of the season for the 36-2 Gators, who have a 30-game win streak coming into this rematch. These two programs met in the 1994 Sweet 16, when the Gators won 69-60 in overtime en route to the Final Four.
77th SANTA ANITA DERBY
At Santa Anita Park, approx.. 3:30 p.m., NBCSN:
California Chrome and Candy Boy are the two likely top betting picks for this $1 million race and the West Coast’s top prep event for next month’s Kentucky Derby. California Chrome comes off a win in the San Felipe Stakes in March. Gary Stevens rode Candy Boy to the Robert B. Lewis Stakes win recently. Stevens has nine wins in the Santa Anita Derby, a race that has produced seven winners at the Kentucky Derby. The latest was I’ll Have Another in 2012.
The NBCSN coverage starts at 2:30 p.m. with the Wood Memorial from New York.
NHL: KINGS at VANCOUVER, 7 p.m., Prime:
As the Canucks appear to be missing the playoffs completely for the first time since 2008, why would they keep John Tortorella as the coach?
ARENA FOOTBALL: L.A. KISS vs. PORTLAND
Honda Center, 6:30 p.m., CBS SportsNet:
It’s the first home game for the franchise – for those who’ve not been following, they had a win in San Antonio and a loss in Orlando. The best news for the team ownership is apparently the announcement that Steel Panther, “widely considered one of the hottest heavy-metal bands out of Hollywood since Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses and Poison ruled the Sunset Strip,” will perform at halftime and also release their new album, “All You Can Eat.” Which is not a reflection on accessibility to food in the concession stands.
NBA: LAKERS at CLIPPERS
Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:
Again, it’s kind of cruel and unusual punishment to make this a national TV contest – right after a Knicks-Heat yawner. There are just five more games left in the regular season for the Lakers and four more for the Clippers after this, so maybe we can just get through it without another epic Laker meltdown? Last time out, before a TNT audience, the Clippers were fully engaged in a 142-94 victory over the Lakers that a) became the Clippers’ franchise most lopsided win, b) became the Lakers’ franchise most one-sided loss and c) why did anyone even watch to the end? The Clippers (107.4) are first in the NBA in points scored per game; the Lakers (108.9) are 29th in the league in points allowed. The Clippers (107.4) are first in the NBA in points scored per game; the Lakers (108.9) are 29th in the league in points allowed.
MLS: GALAXY vs. CHIVAS USA
StubHub Center, noon, TWC SportsNet:
The SuperClassico scoreboard shows the Galaxy winning four of the last five, with a tie thrown in there. The Galaxy’s 5-0 win over the Goats last October, with three goals in the first first 26 minutes and four before halftime, was the most one-sided in the rivalry’s history (going way back to 2008). In that game where Galaxy coach Bruce Arena was serving a suspension, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan each scored twice. Chivas has scored just four goals total in the last 11 meetings and has beaten the Galaxy just once since 2008.
LPGA KRAFT NABISCO CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, final round, 2 p.m., Golf Channel:
Inbie Park not only won this on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course last year, followed by that leap into Poppie’s Pond, but it started a run of three major titles in a row. The field this year includes previous tournament champs Sun Young Yoo, Stacy Lewis, Tani Tseng, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel, Karrie Webb, Pat Hurst and Juli Inkster, who is ending her Hall of Fame career this season.
Golf Channel has the first two rounds Thursday and Friday at 9 a.m. and the third round as well Saturday at 2 p.m.
PGA SHELL HOUSTON OPEN
Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas, final round, noon, Channel 4:
The last tune up before the Masters. If it matters.
Golf Channel has the first two rounds Thursday and Friday at noon; NBC has the final two rounds including Saturday at noon.