GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Dodgers certainly have a purpose this Spring Training. Choosing an Opening Day starter, lining up the starting rotation and determining most of the lineup, however, aren't it. First-year manager Don Mattingly has already made those decisions. Clayton Kershaw gets the ball March 31 against the Giants, and will be followed by Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland. Casey Blake, a lower-third of the lineup guy last season, moves into the two-slot in the batting order, preceded by Rafael Furcal and followed by the everyday heart: Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and James Loney.
There is a reason Mattingly made early calls on all these. "I wanted to make quick decisions on as much as I could so guys could get comfortable," Mattingly said, "to establish some regularity. Things can always change with injuries or depending on how guys are swinging it, but in a perfect world, we'd be able to keep it fairly stable, so guys can get comfortable where they're at." The Dodgers' new-look lineup had little success Tuesday against the Indians, held to two hits and a solo homer by Jerry Sands in a 2-1 loss. Playing against his former Cleveland club, Blake certainly did not have an opportunity to exhibit any of the special offensive skills that isolated him as the ideal No. 2 in Mattingly's lineup. "He was an eight-year Minor Leaguer, and guys like that learn their craft," said the manager. "He handles the bat, can bunt, hit it the other way." Blake primarily was slotted at Nos. 5 and 6 last season, when Kemp and departed Ryan Theriot got the most looks at No. 2.