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Triple Play: Hope springs anew for Angels and Dodgers on MLB Opening Day 2019




The sign in the upper decks of Dodgers Stadium.
The sign in the upper decks of Dodgers Stadium.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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Gloves are oiled. Bats are pine-tarred. Dodger Dogs are on the grill in Echo Park and the fountains are flowing in Anaheim. It can only mean one thing: Opening Day is finally here.

The Dodgers begin their season Thursday afternoon as defending NL West and National League Champions and will be gunning for their seventh-straight NL West title and third-straight League Championship this year. They open 2019 at home against NL West rival Arizona Diamondbacks. Hyun-Jin Ryu will start for L.A. and go against former Dodger Zack Greinke who will take the mound for Arizona. The casual fan will see some notable absences from the opening day lineup -- slugging infielder Manny Machado went south to San Diego in the offseason and fan-favorite outfielder Yasiel Puig was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds in a trade along with Matt Kemp and Alex Wood. Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson all return to the lineup as does shortstop Corey Seager, who sat most of 2018 out after he needed Tommy John surgery to repair the UCL in his throwing arm after he strained it a month into the season.

The Angels, meanwhile, begin 2019 on the road as they head to Oakland for a series against the A’s. Angels newcomer Trevor Cahill gets the nod for the Halos while Mike Fiers will start for Oakland. 27-year-old phenom outfielder Mike Trout leads the charge for the Angels, who are coming off an 80-82 2018 season that earned them 4th place in a very competitive AL West that includes the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros, an Oakland Athletics team that earned a wildcard spot in the playoffs last year and a Seattle Mariners team that appears to be right on the cusp of making the postseason. For his part, Trout just became the richest man in the history of North American pro sports after signing a 12-year deal worth $426 million that will essentially keep Trout in Anaheim for the rest of his pro career. The Angels also brought on a few new faces during the offseason in the form of starting pitchers Matt Harvey and the previously mentioned Cahill as well as slugging first baseman Justin Bour and welcome back players like Albert Pujols, Andrelton Simmons and Kole Calhoun who fans already know. Shohei Ohtani, the Angels dual-threat pitcher/hitter, will start the season still in recovery mode from Tommy John surgery last year, but has been taking batting practice and the Angels hope to integrate him into the lineup as the designated hitter early in the year.

Today on AirTalk, we reconvene the Triple Play of Larry Mantle, A Martinez and Nick Roman to preview the 2019 season for the Dodgers and the Angels, preview the most exciting players on each team and peer into the crystal ball and forecast how the two teams will fare this year.

Guests:

A Martínez, host of Take Two on KPCC; he tweets @amartinezla

Nick Roman, host of All Things Considered on KPCC; he tweets @Romanontheradio