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DODGERS SPRING REPORT

Hiroki Kuroda to start on opening day

Manager Joe Torre says the right-hander will be on the mound against the San Diego Padres on April 6.

March 19, 2009|Jim Peltz

GILBERT, ARIZ. — Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda will start for the Dodgers on opening day, April 6, in San Diego against the Padres, Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said Wednesday.

Kuroda will be followed by Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, Torre said, but the manager did not name a fifth starter.

The Dodgers-Padres series skips a day April 7, meaning the club could stick with four starters in the first two weeks of the season. In that rotation, Billingsley would be the scheduled starter for the team's home opener at Dodger Stadium on April 13 against the San Francisco Giants.

The Dodgers were off Wednesday, but Billingsley pitched five innings in a minor league intrasquad game at the team's Camelback Ranch complex in Phoenix, giving up three runs and five hits, and throwing 76 pitches.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, March 20, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Dodgers: An article in Wednesday's Sports section about the Dodgers' opening day on April 6 said the team did not have a game on April 7. The Dodgers do play April 7 -- in San Diego against the Padres.

Chirping in

Manny Ramirez emerged from a tent in full cricket attire, including a maroon helmet, sky-blue knee pads and red, white and blue batting gloves.

"I feel like Varitek," he deadpanned in reference to Jason Varitek, the Boston Red Sox catcher, a former teammate.

Ramirez donned the outfit and took his first swings as a cricket batsman Wednesday because the Dodgers slugger is promoting a new lineup of international cricket games delivered by DirecTV, the satellite television service.

With the Dodgers taking a day off from their spring-training schedule, Ramirez took his time learning the basics of swinging a cricket bat from Australian Shaun Marsh, one of the game's leading players, and the Arizona Cricket Club team.

But he didn't run. Ramirez, who recently signed a two-year, $45-million contract, is hobbled by a sore hamstring that's keeping him out of the Dodgers' Cactus League games.

However, he enjoyed joking throughout his cricket debut.

As he stood waiting for a pitch from the "bowler," or pitcher, Ramirez pointed his cricket bat at the chaparral lining the end of the field -- a la Babe Ruth calling his shot -- then shouted at the bowler, "Let me see a fast one."

The pitch arrived and Ramirez, upon seeing that the bowler often intentionally tries to bounce the ball just in front of the hitter, stepped out and said, "Can you bring me my [support] cup? I want to have kids."

He wasn't entirely kidding. After stepping aside to put his cup in place, Ramirez again took his batting stance, missed the first pitch, and then hit a line drive up the middle, scrambling members of the Arizona cricket team.

After another pitch, Ramirez yelled to the bowler, "Very good. I'm going to talk to [Dodgers owner] Frank [McCourt] and maybe he can sign you. We need some pitching."

And, told that cricket's rules enabled Marsh to once have an at-bat that lasted nine hours, Ramirez replied, "What? Nine hours? That's too much."

Afterward, he predictably praised the game of cricket and noted, "you really have to have good hand-eye coordination." Asked whether he had a future in the game, he said, "I don't got no chance. We're just here to have some fun."

But, after the last pictures were taken, Ramirez turned back toward the field and said, "Can I hit some more?"

--

james.peltz@latimes.com

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