Inching closer to Opening Day


Hello Dodger fans!  While most of the country has a bad case of March Madness (my bracket took a small hit with the loss of Louisville yesterday), the regular season is almost here!  The Dodgers are still working  on getting their roster finalized for March 31st when they open the season looking to land a blow to their black and orange rivals.  I know a lot of us are concerned about the team’s offense.  The boys in blue don’t look to have a lot of power in the lineup.  So what’s new?  This is the Dodgers!  We don’t need no stinkin’ power hitters.

Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Juan Uribe, and James Loney will provide enough pop.  Kemp continues to impress as he launched another bomb in yesterday’s win over Arizona.  I am convinced that Kemp is going to put up monster numbers this year and become a legit MVP candidate.

Speaking of yesterday’s game, starter Chad Billingsley went five innings, giving up three runs.  Billingsley reported feeling good and was pleased to have the opportunity to get in some good work on his curveball.  While Billingsley was not concerned about his performance, one player whose performance has flown under the radar may be close to pulling off a bit of a mild upset having put up some rather good numbers this Spring.

The quiet slugger is catcher Hector Gimenez.  It was Gimenez who belted a go-ahead three run jack to give the Dodgers a nice win.  Gimenez is hitting over .333 with two home runs and five RBI.  His main competition for the backup role, Rod Barajas has the starting role well in hand, is Dioner Navarro.  Navarro is hitting .227 with no homers this Spring.  I would not be the least bit surprised if Gimenez edges out Navarro and makes a positive contribution to the team this season.  A catcher who can swing the bat from both sides of the plate provides some versatility on the bench.

While the situation at catcher is yet to be determined, the team has made a few more decisions on the roster to get down to the 25 man limit.  Over the past few days the Dodgers have optioned Russ Mitchell, Carlos Monasterios, Jamie Hoffmann, Trayvon Robinson, John Lindsey, and Javy Guerra to Albuquerque to start the season.

With Robinson and Hoffman being sent down, and with Kemp and Ethier already having nailed down two of the three spots, Gwynn, Gibbons, Thames, and Paul are left to battle for the remaining three spots.  Who will be the odd man out?  My guess is that it will be Xavier Paul.  My hope is that it is Jay Gibbons, who has had a horrid Spring Training.

Today, as the team prepares to square off against their opening day opponent, young  righty Rubby De La Rosa will try to impress skipper Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt enough to secure his own spot on the pitching staff.   De La Rosa is still a long shot but if Padilla cannot make it back in time, with Jon Garland also being on the shelf, De La Rosa might be able to fill in to start the season.  A good performance today could go a long way towards making that hope a reality.

One thing is for sure, it will be fun to see who makes the cut and who finds that little red sticker hanging in their locker.   And you can bet that Lasorda’s Lair will be there to offer some thoughts on the makeup of the roster as well.