On Thursday, the first full squad workout is scheduled for the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Avoiding Spring injuries and scorpions are just two of the obstacles the 2015 Dodgers will have to contend with this practice period. This Spring will be vital to the team’s success in 2015 after an offseason filled with moves and roster changes. Half the infield is new, the bullpen is still in flux, and the rotation looks a lot different in the back end.
Exhibition play in March will ultimately determine quite a few question marks which still need to be answered.
All of these questions should be hammered out this Spring, but others may not have a definitive answer even when April 6th rolls around (which is only a little over a month away-eek!). Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi have compiled quite the list of new arms for depth, but they have also constructed the roster in a way which allows for more fluidity and depth at almost every position (Juan Uribe, you must not get hurt).
Feb 23, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe (5) takes batting practice during camp at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
I took a look at who would lead off for the Dodgers earlier this season, and I see Don Mattingly stenciling in quite a few different lineup configurations this Spring. Joc leading off? Sure, it’s Spring Training. Why not.
Yasmani Grandal already had the opportunity and privilege to catch Mr. M.V.P. Clayton Kershaw this week. Even though A.J. Ellis still will primarily handle Kershaw this season, I see Grandal catching the majority of the games allowing A.J. to remain fresh throughout the season and into the postseason.
All eyes will be on Joc Pederson and Andre Ethier this Spring. It’s perhaps the biggest story of the Spring for the Dodgers. Will the Dodgers put their faith in young Joc and start him in center field on Opening Day, or will they opt for the 10-year veteran Andre Ethier? Joc’s Spring is extremely important, and I’m hoping all the soaring expectations don’t hinder his performance.
Spring is very unpredictable, and we may not even have a Joc vs. Dre storyline to follow if Carl Crawford‘s rustiness crops up this Spring.
Call to the Pen
The other area in which Spring Training may be a deciding factor in is the Dodger bullpen. With Kenley Jansen out for two to three months while recovering from foot surgery, the bullpen has been shaken up with new roles to be filled. Barring any more acquisitions, the Dodgers will mix and match arms this Spring in order to hammer out a late inning plan. There is a plethora of pitchers available this Spring, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were one or two dark horse hurlers who pitch their way on to the team. Of course losing Kenley is a huge blow, but the Dodgers have luckily amassed a small army of pitchers this winter. Kenley’s return will certainly be a big boost in a couple of months, and Brandon Beachy‘s future return to the mound could also factor into a possible strong showing down the stretch.
Thursday’s full squad workout will also give us a better idea about who is healthy and who is rusty. Hyun-jin Ryu was reportedly not able to pitch on Wednesday due to mid-back tightness.
It’s going to be an interesting Spring, and a lot will be sorted out in the coming weeks. Mike Bolsinger may be a name to get used to when all is said and done. Zach Lee could finally get a shot at the rotation. Joc Pederson could cement his place in the Opening Day lineup with a hot Spring… or not. Andre Ethier may say something that ruffles everyone’s feathers…that’s almost guaranteed. Finally, we will all rejoice that Dodger baseball is back…even if it’s Chad Gaudin pitching and Matt Carson playing in the outfield. It’s baseball, and it’s been way too long.