IT ALL STARTS AT THE TOP: With the exception of Adam Kennedy at third base, today’s Dodger starting lineup looks very similar to what Don Mattingly is expected to pencil in on Opening Day one month from today in San Diego. Shortstop Dee Gordon will start things off for the Dodger nine this afternoon and ranked fourth in the Majors last season (min. 200 AB) with a .315 batting average as a leadoff hitter (63-for-200). Last season, the 23-year-old became the first-ever Dodger shortstop to be selected to the Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team and was also recognized as the Gillette presents National League Rookie of the Month in September, batting .372 with a league-leading 42 hits in 26 games. Overall, Gordon had the second-highest batting average among Major League rookies (min. 200 AB) with a .304 mark and tied for second among rookies with 24 steals in 56 games with the Dodgers last season.

BIG MAC: The Dodgers would like to wish right-handed reliever Mike MacDougal a happy 35th birthday today! MacDougal re-signed with the club as a free agent this past offseason after ranking second on the team with 57.0 innings pitched as a reliever and a career-high 69 appearances in 2011. The 11-year Major League veteran ranked seventh among National League relievers (min. 50.0 IP) with a 2.05 ERA while going 3-1 with one save last season in his first season with Los Angeles.

IN JUST 31 SHORT DAYS: The Dodgers will open the 2012 Championship Season one month from today at 4:05 p.m. against the Padres at San Diego’s PETCO Park. Clayton Kershaw will be on the hill for his second consecutive Opening Day start and will become the first reigning Cy Young Award winner to make an Opening Day start for Los Angeles since Sandy Koufax in 1964. He will be the first Dodger to make consecutive starts in a season opener since Derek Lowe from 2005-07. Kershaw, who turns 24 on March 19, had his first tuneup of the spring yesterday, striking out five of the seven batters he faced and allowing just one hit over 25 pitches, and will make his first official Cactus League start on March 9 against the Rangers in Surprise.

--from Dodgers press release

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