What's left of bad blood with D-backs?

PHOENIX -- The Los Angeles Dodgers, it just so happens, open their exhibition season against the team they had so much strife with last year, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The teams begin their Cactus League schedules next Wednesday at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.

Only then will we begin to find out whether the bad blood of last summer lingered through the winter.

It's probably fair to say Major League Baseball would prefer they get any hostilities out of the way in Arizona this spring rather than risk having things spill over at the Sydney Cricket Grounds in Australia on March 22, in front of a national late-night TV audience.

Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax joked that he doubted the teams would carry a grudge so far.

"After that long on an airplane, you don't have a temper left," Koufax said.

The teams' managers are downplaying the bad blood, which is exactly what they should be doing, of course.

"This is something, I think, that has been picked up a little bit by some of the media. It's actually overblown, I believe," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "Over the course of my career, that's not the only time I've been on the field. It's part of the game. They did what they had to do. I understand why they did it. If you go back and look at the history, how it evolved into that, it's very easy to see."

Gibson said he has great respect for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, his staff and the Dodgers players.

"They work their butts off, I can see that," Gibson said. "They're very good."

Mattingly had similar sentiments.

"I've seen that with the Boston-New York rivalry. It gets built up by the media," Mattingly said. "It only kind of flares up when it happens on the field. It's a good rivalry. They've got good clubs, they play hard. I know we're not going to back off or back away from anybody."