LOS ANGELES — It won't take long for the Dodgers to find out how their $215 million payroll stacks up against baseball's elite.
They'll test it out starting today (4 p.m., ESPN) against the World Series champion Giants, as former Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, a left-hander, makes his third straight opening-day start against righty Matt Cain.
"They are definitely the team to beat," Kershaw said of Los Angeles' long-time rival. "We can talk about it until we're blue in the face, but until we start winning some games and be in first place for the majority of the season, there's really not much we can say about it."
San Francisco is favored by some to win the NL West again. The Dodgers finished second last year but the Giants knocked them out of wild-card contention in the next-to-the-last game of the regular season.
"We're pretty excited to be playing against the World Series champs, and hopefully we can come out and play the game we know how to play," slugger Matt Kemp said. "It is a rivalry, but that's more for the fans, not for us."
The Giants enter the season with two World Series titles in three years, and they return all their key players.
"I have to feel good about it because they did a good job last year, they did a great job," manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Dodgers are missing SS Hanley Ramirez, who is on the 15-day disabled list after thumb surgery. Pitchers Chad Billingsley, Scott Elbert and Ted Lilly are also on the DL.
Los Angeles enters its first full season with big-name midseason acquisitions Carl Crawford, the former Ray recovering from elbow surgery, Adrian Gonzalez, Ramirez, Josh Beckett and closer Brandon League.
As for one of San Francisco's injury concerns, Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News that the team was "pretty optimistic" that 3B Pablo Sandoval (right elbow) would play today.
Another historic rivalry renews today in New York as the Yankees open against the Red Sox (1 p.m., ESPN) with CC Sabathia facing Boston's Jon Lester.
Interleague intrigue: The oldest franchise in the majors will be the first to test out baseball's newest wrinkle. Today when the Angels play at Cincinnati, the Reds will not only welcome back slugger Josh Hamilton but also host the first interleague game on opening day. Nearly every day will see at least one interleague game this season, a change triggered by Houston's move to the AL to give each league 15 teams. "It is very strange," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "This usually doesn't happen until June or July."
Newtown tribute: All 30 teams will pay tribute to the 20 children and six adults shot to death in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Players, managers, coaches and umpires will wear a memorial patch through Tuesday that includes the seal of Newtown, a black ribbon and 26 stars, and there will be a moment of silence at each stadium.
Braves: LHP Jonny Venters (sprained elbow) went on the 15-day DL; the team purchased the contract of C Evan Gattis.
Diamondbacks: Injuries opened the way for OF Alfredo Marte and INF Josh Wilson to make the opening-day roster. RHP Randall Delgado was optioned to Triple-A Reno.
Mariners: They designated Casper Wells, instead keeping Jason Bay as the fifth outfielder.
Red Sox: OF Jackie Bradley, 22, who has never played above Double A, was named to the roster. Bradley, taken 40th overall in the 2011 amateur draft, hit .419 with a .507 on-base percentage in spring. INF Mauro Gomez was designated for assignment.
Reds: Righty relievers Logan Ondrusek and Jose Arredondo were sent to the minors.
Royals: Former AL MVP Miguel Tejada was added and LHP Danny Duffy (Tommy John surgery) went on the DL. Duffy is expected to be out until midseason.