Hiroki Kuroda (0-0) vs. Justin Germano (0-0).
COMMENTS: Time to see how the Dodgers' $35 million import plays. Kuroda had a strong spring training and seems to have already made a connection with Russell Martin, according to the LA Times (reg.):
"I feel blessed that I have a very good catcher," the 33-year old Kuroda said. "He really thinks and leads me."
By and large, big league catchers are perceived by Japanese players to be technically sloppy and mentally lazy, insensitive to the strengths of their pitchers and making little effort to read the minds of opposing hitters.
The fear of being caught by someone like that prompted Kuroda to ask closer Takashi Saito about the Dodgers' catcher when they met in November in Japan. Leading up to his signing of a three-year, $35.3-million contract in mid-December, Kuroda spoke to Saito a few more times over the phone to inquire about Martin.
Saito assured him that he and Martin would work well together, adding that he once had the same skepticism.
"When I started playing with Russell, I stopped thinking that way," Saito said. "I will never again say that American catchers are inferior."
Martin laughed when relayed the story.
"I'm Canadian, that's why," he said.
The Dodgers' next concern: Will their situational hitting improve? They will face Jake Peavy and Chris Young tomorrow and Sunday, so cold bats tonight would not bode well for the weekend.
Also, Chan Ho Park has been promoted and will be available to pitch out of the bullpen.
Joe Torre is giving Andre Ethier a real vote of confidence batting him fifth (ahead of Andruw Jones!) (and ensuring alternating lefties and righties). I like this lineup.
Vin Scully is "a little under the weather," according to a team spokesman, and will not be simulcasting on radio tonight. He's expected to still be on TV.