Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Category: Spring Training (Page 2 of 13)

No. 5 starter on light duty at season’s outset

Dave Roberts, LHP

Left-handed pitcher Dave Roberts is not a candidate for the Dodger starting rotation.

Mariners at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, DH
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Chase Utley, 3B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Charlie Culberson, SS
Elian Herrera, 2B
(Kenta Maeda, P)

By Jon Weisman

A bit of calm has arrived this morning after this weekend’s fifth-starter whiplash, in which the Dodgers’ three principal candidates for the final spot in the rotation seemed to fall by the temporary wayside.

Mike Bolsinger, who had emerged as the winner of the derby, has an oblique injury that isn’t serious, in the same way that rush hour at In ‘N Out isn’t serious — he’ll get where he needs to go, but he still has to bide his time.

From Doug Padilla of ESPN.com:

… He believes he can get back on track if he can get in one more start before exhibition games end April 2. The Dodgers leave Arizona on March 30 but play three games against the Los Angeles Angels in Southern California in advance of the April 4 season opener at San Diego.

“[Bolsinger] said there was significant improvement, but I think with the oblique we want to be cautious,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And I have used that word cautious numerous times this spring. But we do. It’s going to be asymptomatic in when he picks up a baseball again, so it could be a day, it could be two days. We’ll continue to be hopeful.”

Remember, Los Angeles doesn’t require a permanent solution at No. 5 right this minute. Rather, the Dodgers need a No. 5 starter only once before April 16 — on April 8 at San Francisco.

In the meantime, the Dodgers are reconsidering other options, including Brandon Beachy (recovering from a small bit of tendinitis), Zach Lee (whose option to the minors can be rescinded) and Carlos Frias (ever-straddling the line between starter and reliever).

Joe Blanton, on the other hand, will remain in long relief, according to Dave Roberts (via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.)

Gurnick added that Corey Seager ” felt fine one day after his first extensive workout,” but Andre Ethier was to have a bone scan to make sure nothing was missed in the X-ray Friday on his right shin.

Kazmir and Bolsinger under watchful eyes

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 5.14.43 PM

Padres at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, 3B
Kiké Hernandez, SS
A.J. Ellis C
Joc Pederson, CF
Corey Brown, LF
Cody Bellinger, 1B
Mike Bolsinger, P
Dodgers at Brewers, 1:05 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Chase Utley, 2B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Alex Guerrero, 3B
Trayce Thompson, CF
Rob Segedin, 1B
Charlie Culberson, SS
Rico Noel, RF
Scott Kazmir, P

By Cary Osborne

Today marks Scott Kazmir’s first Cactus League outing since March 9, when he allowed six hits, two walks and five earned runs against the Angels.

Kazmir faces the Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park.

He pitched in a B game against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch on March 14. A lot was made of Kazmir’s fastball velocity in the B game, reportedly in the mid- to high-80s, so Spring Training game or not, people will be eager to watch this one.

The same could be said about the matchup against the Padres at Camelback Ranch where Mike Bolsinger continues his campaign for the fifth-starter spot.

The right-hander threw four shutout innings against the Brewers on March 14, allowing two hits and walk, striking out two.

Here’s how the three fifth-starter candidates have done so far:

  • Bolsinger: 9 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 6 SO, 2 ER
  • Zach Lee: 8 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 4 SO, 4 ER
  • Brandon Beachy: 7 IP, 8 H, 7 BB, 2 SO, 6 ER

However, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported on Saturday that Beachy was dealing with a sore arm and will rest for a few days while being evaluated. Beachy told Gurnick today that it’s mild tendinitis and he doesn’t believe it’s too serious.

Scott Van Slyke was originally in today’s lineup at first base against the Padres, but was scratched due to a sore right hip flexor. Gurnick reported on Twitter that Van Slyke will rest one or two days.

Checking in on the Dodger bullpen

Louis Coleman warms prior to his Spring Training debut March 4 for the Dodgers at Surprise, Arizona.

Louis Coleman warms prior to his Spring Training debut March 4 for the Dodgers at Surprise, Arizona.

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 1:10 p.m.
Andre Ethier, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Chase Utley, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Trayce Thompson, CF
Brandon Beachy, P

By Jon Weisman

For all the speculation about who the fifth starting pitcher in the Dodger rotation will be, there hasn’t been a ton of talk about the back end of the bullpen.

Let’s do a quick refresher of the remaining candidates for the (presumably) seven relief spots:

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Spring Training, emphasis on training

Royals at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Joc Pederson, DH
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Alex Guerrero, 3B
Austin Barnes, 2B
A.J. Ellis, C
Trayce Thompson, CF
Corey Brown, LF
(Alex Wood, P)

By Jon Weisman

Why is it hard to get a read on big-league teams during Spring Training?

Here are the Dodger leaders in Cactus League defensive innings played so far:

70 Trayce Thompson
66 Micah Johnson
60 Rico Noel
60 Rob Segedin
57 Charlie Culberson
55 Corey Brown
53 Cody Bellinger
50 Elian Herrera
49 Brandon Hicks
48 Scott Van Slyke

Not saying the games haven’t been worthwhile — there are real contributors there — but just that they serve a purpose more broad than straight wins and losses. I like to call that purpose, “baseball.”

In case you missed it: Ethier leadoff experiment, step one

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

In discussing potential Dodger leadoff hitters last week, I hesitated to include Andre Ethier because he had never done so in a regular-season game – but I decided to do so anyway, because against right-handers, it makes sense.

Sure enough, Ethier grabbed a leadoff spot in today’s 7-3 Dodger victory over Colorado, walking and singling in his first two at-bats.

Dave Roberts told reporters today that Ethier could bat leadoff when the matchup is favorable.

What else can I tell you?

  • Hyun-Jin Ryu is not going to pitch in Cactus League play and is doubtful to return to Major League action before June, Dave Roberts said today.
  • Zach Lee retired the first eight batters he faced in a 3 1/3-inning performance, allowing a run on four baserunners with one strikeout.
  • Julio Urias gave up a run in his first inning of relief, but retired the final four batters in his two-inning outing.
  • In his second Cactus League game, Justin Turner went 1 for 3 with an error.
  • Elian Herrera and Trayce Thompson both scored on the same wild pitch in the eighth inning.
  • Some interesting data from Tony Blengino at Fangraphs supports a big 2016 season for Yasmani Grandal. In his first Cactus League game since March 9, Grandal singled and walked.
  • Outfield prospect Alex Verdugo did a Q&A with Jim Callis of MLB.com.
  • Dustin Nosler of Dodgers Digest rated Dodger minor leaguers according to best tools.
  • Frank Sinatra Jr., who sang the national anthem at Dodger Stadium several times, most recently in September as part of the centennial celebration of his father, has passed away at age 72. Tommy Lasorda expressed his sadness this evening. “Like his father, Frank Jr. brought us much joy with his unbelievable musical talent,” Lasorda said. “Last season, Frank Jr. sang the national anthem at Dodger Stadium on my birthday. What a voice! Frank Jr. was a great and lovely family man. He will be missed dearly.”
  • For a brief moment this morning, it looked like Dodger Stadium was going the Calvinball route …

How many innings might make Maeda mightier

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Rockies at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Andre Ethier, LF
Howie Kendrick, DH
Justin Turner, 3B
Chase Utley, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Joc Pederson, CF
Elian Herrera, SS
(Zach Lee, P)

By Jon Weisman

We recapped Kenta Maeda’s latest outing Tuesday, but I saw some more comments this morning worth passing along.

The bulk of them centered on how much it will help Maeda simply to put more mileage on his American odometer. For example, here’s what Maeda said to the Japan Times

… “I’m still throwing some fat pitches, but I was able to get some strikeouts, so it was a learning experience,” he said. “Next time I want to do a good job while increasing my innings and pitch count and not walking batters.

“There were times when I threw pitches on the corner that I wanted strikes on but were called balls. Had I got them, I would have had more strikeouts. I think I’m going to have to establish my reputation among the umpires as a pitcher with good control.” …

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Kendrick returns as DH, Barnes starts at second base

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

Dodgers at White Sox, 1:05 p.m.
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Howie Kendrick, DH
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Andre Ethier, LF
Chase Utley, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Austin Barnes, 2B
(Kenta Maeda, P)

By Jon Weisman

Howie Kendrick is starting today for the Dodgers, but their second baseman is Austin Barnes.

Kendrick, who has been nursing groin tenderness, is making his third Cactus League appearance and first since March 5. He will be the designated hitter, while the Dodgers further test out No. 3 catcher Barnes as a multi-position option.

It’s no secret that Barnes has potential to help the Dodgers at second and third base as well as catcher. Last year, he became the 11th player to play all three positions in his Dodger career.

Only Derrel Thomas, who caught five games as a Dodger, and Lew Ritter have played at least five games at all three positions, so Barnes could break new ground in 2016 if he gets the opportunity.

By the way, one of the 11 Dodgers to have played second base, third base and catcher is 100-year-old Mike Sandlock, who is currently the oldest living former MLB player.

In case you missed it: Tale of three starting pitchers

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

Mike Bolsinger has allowed two runs in nine Spring Training innings. (Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Mike Bolsinger shone in the spotlight for the Dodgers, while Scott Kazmir and Hyun-Jin Ryu had interesting days behind the scenes.

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Justin Turner has slick return to game action

Los Angeles Dodgers head shot dayBy Jon Weisman

Justin Turner’s 2016 Cactus League debut could hardly have gone better.

In the Dodgers’ 6-2 victory over Milwaukee today, Turner — playing his first Spring Training game following offseason surgery on his left knee — doubled in a run and scored in the first inning and made a clean defensive play at third base in the second inning. In the third, Turner walked, then scored all the way from first base on an Adrian Gonzalez double, sliding smoothly at home plate.

“I’m still standing,” said Turner, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “Everything is a test to see how I feel on both sides of the ball. I had a little extra adrenaline with the fans in the stands. I was anxious to get back out there in a real game. Playing on the back fields is good to get the work in, but it’s not the same adrenaline and intensity with the fans in the stands. I felt great. Ran, slid into home, dove for a ball. Everything felt fine.”

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has more. Assuming Turner has no ill after-affects Tuesday, he should return to game action Wednesday.

Justin Turner makes Cactus League debut today

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

Brewers at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Micah Johnson, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Austin Barnes, C
Alex Guerrero, DH
Trayce Thompson, CF
Charlie Culberson, SS
Rico Noel, LF
(Mike Bolsinger, P)

By Jon Weisman

The Iced Man cometh.

In the Dodgers’ 13th Cactus League game of 2016, Justin Turner will make his first appearance.

Turner, who has been recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee, is scheduled to play approximately five innings at third base.

The 31-year-old Turner made it back into the lineup exactly three weeks before Opening Day at San Diego.

Alex Guerrero, who pinch-hit Sunday in his first game in eight days, gets his first start in that span at designated hitter.

Today’s game is preceded by a “B” game, slated to go no more than five innings, in which Scott Kazmir of the Dodgers is pitchinh against Chris Sale of the White Sox. Yasmani Grandal, who has been sidelined with a forearm contusion, is catching Kazmir.

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In case you missed it: Infield candidates step up

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Dodgers at Rockies, 1:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Chase Utley, 2B
Andre Ethier, LF
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Kiké Hernandez, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Cody Bellinger, 1B
Charlie Culberson 3B
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Charlie Culberson, Elian Herrera and Brandon Hicks, whose roles as reserves could increase over the next two weeks of Spring Training – if not Opening Day – while Corey Seager recovers from his strained left knee, each enjoyed spotlight moments Saturday for the twice-victorious Dodgers.

In a pair of topsy-turvy games Saturday, the Dodgers scored the winning runs in the bottom of the ninth against the Cubs and in the top of the 10th against the Mariners.

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Seager to miss up to two weeks with sprained knee

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Cubs at Dodgers, 6:05 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, DH
Chase Utley, 3B
Austin Barnes, C
Cody Bellinger, 1B
Charlie Culberson, SS
Micah Johnson, 2B
(Brandon Beachy, P)
Manager: Dave Roberts
Dodgers at Mariners, 6:40 p.m.
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Trayce Thompson, CF
Andre Ethier, LF
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Shawn Zarraga, DH
Rob Segedin, 3B
Alex Hassan, RF
Elian Herrera, 2B
(Carlos Frias, P)
Manager: Bob Geren

By Jon Weisman

Injury concerns dotted the first night of split-squad games for the Dodgers, with the most serious news appearing to be that Corey Seager will miss at least one week because of a sprained left knee.

Seager had an MRI today, one day after he was hurt rounding first base following a base hit against the Angels, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported. Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters late this afternoon that Seager would be out for one to two weeks.

Seager is 23 days away from beginning his first regular season as a Major League starter. Kiké Hernandez is the Dodgers’ primary backup shortstop, with non-roster infielders Charlie Culberson, Elian Herrera among the bench possibilities.

That left-handed pitcher Alex Wood was scratched from a scheduled start tonight because of forearm tightness seems to be of less concern. Reporters were told that Wood would have pitched had this been a regular-season game. Carlos Frias is starting in his place.

Also pulled from scheduled action tonight was Alex Guerrero, who was supposed to return from a week’s absence at designated hitter against the Mariners, only to be replaced by Shawn Zarraga. Guerrero (left knee soreness) hasn’t played since March 4.

In case you missed it: Tale of two Uriases

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Julio Urias

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Spirits soared with Julio Urias’ first inning on a Cactus League mound this year, before his second inning reminded us of his youth.

Taking the mound in the seventh inning today against the Angels, Urias struck out the side — before allowing a single, double, triple and walk to the four batters he faced in the eighth inning of what became an 8-4 Dodger loss, recapped by MLB.com.

Urias told AM 570 Dodger Talk’s David Vassegh that he struggled with his fastball command in his second inning of work. Hopefully, it wasn’t from his coffee run earlier today.

The Dodgers lost despite holding the Angels hitless from the second through seventh innings. Zach Lee gave up three hits in the first inning, including a three-run homer, but then faced the minimum over the next two innings. Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Pedro Baez and Louis Coleman each pitched an inning of hitless ball. They were helped by Charlie Culberson, who made two outstanding plays at shortstop today.

What else have we got?

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In case you missed it: Dodgers avoid singles scene

By Jon Weisman

For seven innings today, the Dodgers were on their way to an unprecedented feat.

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Are Dodgers dodging the leadoff inquisition?

Just seeing if you're paying attention. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Just seeing if you’re paying attention. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodgers at A’s, 12:05 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Chase Utley, 2B
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Andre Ethier, DH
A.J. Ellis, C
Trayce Thompson, CF
Charlie Culberson, 3B
Rico Noel, RF
(Kenta Maeda, P)

By Jon Weisman

Earlier this week, MLB.com, the Times, the Register, True Blue L.A. and ESPN.com all wrote about how the Dodgers don’t expect to have a full-time leadoff hitter in 2016.

“It’s still wide-open,” Dave Roberts said, according to Bill Plunkett of the Register. “It might change but I don’t foresee a designated leadoff guy – versus left, versus right, versus any type of pitcher – because any day is different, any pitcher is different. So whatever I feel is the best, which makes the most sense for that night or day, we’ll do.”

For some reason, this seems to get under the skin of some fans, who correlate a consistent presence atop the order with winning. And to be sure, if you’ve got guy who posts a .400 on-base percentage against all pitching and doesn’t have redwoods for legs, that’s a good head start toward victory.

But you’re not doomed if you don’t have that person, and it doesn’t serve anyone to pretend that you do. Whatever advantage might be derived from stubbornly batting the same player in the same batting slot, regardless of who the opposing pitcher is, is surely bettered by creating the best matchups.

Let’s look at the Dodgers’ potential leadoff hitters, casting a wide net …

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