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Kershaw, Ryu on course to open for Dodgers Down Under

Feb 26, 2014; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws a pitch against the Arizon
Feb 26, 2014; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws a pitch against the Arizon

(Reuters) - Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and Ryu Hyu-jin of South Korea are set up to start the two season-opening games later this month in Australia, according to the official Major League Baseball website.

While the Dodgers have not officially announced their pitching plan, the National League team inserted prospect Zach Lee to start Friday's spring training game against Texas putting Kershaw and Ryu on track to launch the regular season.

Los Angeles, who won the NL West last year with a 92-70 record, are kicking off the major league season against division rivals the Arizona Diamondbacks (81-81 in 2013) at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 22 and 23.

The 25-year-old Kershaw, who in the offseason signed a seven-year, $215 million deal that was the richest ever given to a pitcher, has claimed the Cy Young award as top pitcher in the league twice in the last three years.

The left-hander is likely to start the first game, followed by Ryu. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly would not confirm his plans, but he has told the pitchers their roles, according to mlb.com.

Ryu became the first Dodgers pitcher to hurl four innings this spring in his outing on Wednesday, and the Korean said he would be ready to face Arizona in the Australia games.

"I threw 55 pitches tonight and 75 next time, so in three weeks I'll be ready if called upon," said Ryu, who signed a six-year, $36 million deal before the 2013 season with the Dodgers, who also paid a $25.7 million posting fee to negotiate with him.

The left-hander rewarded the Dodgers with a strong 14-8 record with an earned run average of 3.00.

Ryu said he was looking forward to seeing former Korean team mate Koo Dae-sung, who taught Ryu how to throw a changeup and will play for the Australian national team in exhibitions against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks prior to the season-opening series.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Julian Linden)

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