Don Mattingly's praise for the Giants seemed genuine. Then again, he knew he was talking to a San Francisco writer, and thus a San Francisco audience, so maybe he wanted to play nice.
The Dodgers have given their manager $230 million worth of talent expressly to unseat the Giants as National League West champs and win multiple World Series. In some eyes, that huge investment makes Los Angeles the team to beat in 2013.
Mattingly begged to differ.
"Obviously, we're going to have high expectations on us, especially in the L.A. area," Mattingly said. "I think the people who watch know we're going to have a good club, but I think it's hard to bypass the Giants in any way, shape or form. They've won two out of three, have their whole club back, all their pitching back.
"You always kind of stack them at the top. You start with the world champions as the team you've got to measure yourself with."
The measuring begins Tuesday when the Giants and Dodgers meet for the first of two Cactus League games, with Tim Lincecum facing Josh Beckett.
Any meeting between these teams now will attract more interest because of the Giants' championships and the Dodgers' lavish spending. The rivalry always has been a big deal in California. Now some commentators - from the East Coast, even - suggest that Dodgers-Giants might begin to rival Yankees-Red Sox in national interest.
As anyone on the Eastern seaboard will attest, even New York-Boston exhibitions are a big deal.

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