By Jon Weisman
Now that all the hoopla of Saturday’s FanFest has given way to rain, wind and an element to be named later, let’s check in on the latest with a few of your intrepid Dodger heroes.
About three feet in front of me Saturday, near the FanFest stage, Dave Roberts and Yasiel Puig shared an enthusiastic hello and embrace. When I tweeted this, I was met with some skepticism, but the relationship ball is rolling, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
“I just had a good sit-down with him,” Roberts said. “It was refreshing for me to have a good face-to-face with him, to talk about our vision, and it’s more of, ‘Let’s wipe the slate clean’ and everything’s new. There’s the same core of players but a completely new coaching staff, and we just want him to be himself and let’s start fresh.”
Chase Utley (and Howie Kendrick)
The Dodgers have made no official acknowledgment about Kendrick, but considering that Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi acknowledged on the FanFest stage that the reports of him returning to the Dodgers (pending a physical) are accurate, we’ll allow a mention here.
Before last week, it appeared that Utley and Kiké Hernandez would be in a timeshare at second base, with Utley getting most of the at-bats. Kendrick’s arrival would shake that up a bit, if you figure that Kendrick would get more at-bats against righties than Hernandez was going to. Utley told Gurnick that he isn’t concerned.
"I come to the park prepared to play every day … Whether I'm in there or not, I'm ready to go." – Chase Utley pic.twitter.com/YtDn2xVdgW
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) January 30, 2016
“I have a lot of respect for Howie, the way he goes about his business, having watched him from afar and played with him last year,” Utley said. “I think he’ll make us a better team. I’ll still have an opportunity to play. That’s all I ask for, an opportunity to compete and help the team win.”
In addition, Roberts told Gurnick that Kendrick is open to join Utley in playing some third base on Justin Turner’s day off.
McCarthy has had no setbacks in his throwing program since beginning his comeback from last April’s Tommy John surgery, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News, and recently began throwing lightly off a mound.
“My ultimate goal is to make a start or two before the All-Star break,” McCarthy said. “If it doesn’t happen that’s fine, I’m mentally prepared for that. I want to use that as our foundation of ‘this is where I need to get to.’ ”
Kershaw, wrote Gurnick, “hasn’t changed his offseason routine dramatically, but he has put a greater emphasis on endurance and cardiovascular work.”
“I feel good,” the lefty ace told Gurnick. “My arm is great, I just threw a bullpen. I’m looking forward to Spring Training.”