Back in March the Los Angeles Dodgers announced the expected — that Clayton Kershaw would take the mound against the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day. Soon after, Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Johnny Cueto would start opposite Kershaw.
However, Major League Baseball operations came to a halt the following day due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It wound up amounting to nearly five months without any official team activities.
That changed at the beginning of July, as MLB and the Players Association agreed on health and safety protocols for a 60-game season imposed by commissioner Rob Manfred.
To no surprise, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remained committed to Kershaw making his ninth career Opening Day start. The Giants have similarly followed suit, with Kapler confirming Cueto is still scheduled to start opposite Kershaw, per Maria Guardado of MLB.com:
Giants manager Gabe Kapler re-named Johnny Cueto his Opening Day starter on Tuesday, officially setting up a duel between Cueto and left-hander Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium on July 23.
“We think what’s best for Johnny and what’s best for the Giants is to have him start on Opening Day against the Dodgers, so that’s what we’ll do,” Kapler said.
The Opening Day start will be Cueto’s fifth of his career, but first with the Giants. His previous four came consecutively from 2012-2015 with the Cincinnati Reds. The veteran right-hander logged seven innings in each of those outings and has a 0.64 ERA in season openers.
But unlike Kershaw who is stretched out to go around six or seven innings, Cueto is unlikely to provide much length in the early going. The most he’s thrown during intrasquad play is 60 pitches and three innings, which came Tuesday.
Dodger Stadium sights and sounds
The Dodgers are offering fans an opportunity to purchase cutouts of themselves which will be positioned in seats at Dodger Stadium. Locations to choose from are Dugout Club, Field and Loge levels, and home run seats in the pavilions. Net proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.
To further help players adjust to the unusual setting, the Dodgers also are finalizing plans to begin incorporating piped-in crowd noise. Manager Dave Roberts hoped the artificial sound would begin being used prior to the regular season so players could become familiar with it.
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