One of baseball's historic rivalries resumes Monday when the Dodgers open the 2013 Major League Baseball season at home against the World Series champion San Francisco Giants in the first test of Los Angeles' $215 million payroll.
Dodgers ownership -- a group including Laker Magic Johnson that enters its second season at the helm -- has spent money in an effort to keep pace with the Giants, winners of two World Series titles in the past three years. It's a classic West Coast rivalry that has only intensified with San Francisco's rise to prominence in the National League West.
"They are definitely the team to beat,'' Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said of the Giants. "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."
The former Cy Young Award winner will make his third consecutive opening day start for LA against San Francisco's Matt Cain. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. at Dodger Stadium.
San Francisco won the NL West last year, claiming a 10-8 season series record against Los Angeles. The Dodgers finished second, eight games behind the Giants and out of the playoffs.
"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,'' said Dodger Matt Kemp. "It is a rivalry, but that's more for the fans, not for us. We're just trying to beat every team out there."
New Faces for 2013
The two teams are likely contenders for the NL West crown in 2013. The Giants return key players, but the Dodgers will be missing a few important pieces of the lineup to start the season.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez has been on the 15-day disabled list since March 22. Justin Sellers will start in his absence, which could last for about two months.
Pitchers Chad Billingsley, Scott Elbert and Ted Lilly also have been sidelined by injuries to start the season.
One of the Dodgers' high-profile off-season acquisitions, Carl Crawford, is recovering from elbow surgery. He will start Monday afternoon in left field. The Dodgers also acquired first-baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Ramirez, starter Josh Beckett and closer Brandon League.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, a highly touted South Korean pitcher, is set to make his major league debut during the series.
The signings come after a partial season under the Dodgers' new ownership group. The team's sale from Frank McCourt to an ownership group that includes Johnson, controlling partner Mark R. Walter and long-time baseball executive Stan Kasten was approved after the start of the 2012 season.
What's New at Dodger Stadium
The ownership group also pumped money into Dodger Stadium -- the league's third-oldest ballpark behind Chicago's Wrigley Field and Boston's Fenway Park. Upgrades include enlarged clubhouses with indoor batting cages.
Concessions: New Menu for 2013
The fan experience includes new high-definition video boards above the pavilion seats in right and left field, with the original hexagonal shape restored. The boards' viewing area will be 66 percent larger, allowing for more video content and stats.
A new sound system will be heard on the expanded concourses and in the restrooms. An improved Wi-Fi and cell antenna system will be part of the improvements, so fans can better use their mobile devices.
New food stands and menus will debut, although the famed Dodger Dog remains unchanged. Hall of Famer Vin Scully, 85, will be back in the broadcast booth for his 64th season of Dodger baseball.
Monday's festivities include a pregame ceremony honoring the club's 1963 and 1988 World Series champions.
The team unveils its "A Whole New Blue'' theme with a performance by the Blue Man Group. Fans will be serenaded by Dixieland and mariachi bands as they arrive. Fans sitting in the pavilions will participate in an interactive card stunt during the game, a first for the venerable stadium.