When thinking of rivals for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the most obvious opponents that universally come to mind are the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees. There’s decades of history with both teams and in the case of the Yankees, fierce World Series battles.
More recently there have been movements to anoint the same rivalry status to the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres. That’s held particularly true for the Padres since last season as they finished with the second-best record in the National League.
The Dodgers won the NL West by six games and swept the Padres in the NL Division Series en route to winning their first championship since 1988. With San Diego coming off one of their best seasons in franchise history and aggressively upgrading their roster, they have been painted as a chief rival to the Dodgers’ reign over the division.
While that may hold true, manager Dave Roberts stopped well short of placing the Padres in the same group as the Giants or rivalry that exists between the Boston Red Sox and Yankees. “They’re a very talented team, they’ve done a nice job,” he began.
“It’s going to be fun to compete against those guys all year. I know fans are excited about it and I’m sure our players are too. I just think that’s a ways down the road.
“When you’re talking about those types of rivalries, that’s more generational and withstood the test of time. Right now, I think there’s more to a rivalry than just geography.”
Roberts spoke highly of the Padres last season, including after the teams played a hotly-contested series at Petco Park.
L.A. won six of the 10 head-to-head meetings last season. The teams will go back to playing 19 times this year.
Bauer still getting acquainted with Dodgers-Padres
Trevor Bauer starting against the Padres offered a secondary storyline due to his competitive banter and history with Manny Machado. Unfortunately the Padres’ third baseman was not in the lineup for the road matchup.
“He’s already ducking me,” Bauer quipped. “I just wanted to face Manny. I wanted to see him. I’m mad he’s ducking me.”
Although the environment at Camelback Ranch was a bit more lively than a traditional Cactus League game, it wasn’t immediately apparent to Bauer. “I haven’t been here very long, but from everything I hear it’s going to be a fun series and a fun year,” he said of facing the Padres.
“The higher the stakes, the more excited I get, the better I usually do. So I’m all in on that.”
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