Dodgers Finally Enjoying Regular Spring Timeline
By Scott Andes
This has been a pretty normal spring training for the Dodgers this year for the first time in two years. In 2013 we had the craziness of the World Baseball Classic which saw several Dodgers participate. That also saw the frustrating injury to Hanley Ramirez’s thumb that sidelined him for the beginning of the season.
Last year we saw the Dodger’s spring training cut short because of their opening series in Sydney Australia against the Dbacks. Instead of the usual 35 exhibition games, the Dodgers had just 24 before they had to make the trip down under. Unfortunately that also led to another costly injury for the Dodgers, the teres major muscle injury to Clayton Kershaw.
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So this year the Dodgers finally have a standard spring schedule, allowing the players to have a normal timeline. Thus giving the players a regular reporting date, full exhibition schedule, and no cross Atlantic trips. This year we’re getting our first looks at some of the new Dodgers acquired via trades during the club’s massive roster overhaul last winter.
Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson and the rest of the new Dodgers are getting their first tastes of Camelback Ranch.
The Dodger youngsters have really impressed us thus far during this spring. Most notably center fielder Joc Pederson. The multi-talented 22-year old is making a strong case to make the opening day roster as the starting center fielder. He’s hitting .429 (9 for 21) this spring, with two doubles, and a home run. Most importantly he’s looking comfortable at the plate, and making contact. He’s whiffed just six times so far in 22 plate appearances.
Call to the Pen
Other youngsters making a mark this year are outfielder Scott Schebler, Infielder/outfielder Darnell Sweeney, infielder Alex Guerrero, shortstop of the future Corey Seager, and of course the flame throwing 18-year old hurler from Mexico, Julio Urias.
Schebler and Sweeney are really impressing early on. Schebler is batting .438 (7 for 16) with four doubles and a home run. Sweeney is hitting .385 (5 for 13) with a home run. Both players are moving quickly up the depth chart, and could be knocking on the door in a year or two. Guerrero has been raking it as well. They have to find a spot for him somehow.
I can’t forget to mention Urias, who had taken the major league camp by storm before he was optioned down to his respective minor league camp. Urias pitches beyond his years, and seems to have amazing poise on the mound for an 18-year old kid. The Dodgers are very high on him, but don’t want to rush him along. In a couple of years he’s going to be ready, but the Dodgers want to keep his pitch counts and innings down while he develops and matures.
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As for the pitching staff, two relievers have looked very solid. Closer candidate Sergio Santos has performed very well. Santos has thrown three scoreless frames this spring with four strikeouts and no walks. He has yet to allow a hit.
The other reliever that is surprising this year is Taiwanese journeyman Chin-hui Tsao. The 33-year old right hander pitched in 21 games for the Dodgers in 2007. He was also involved in some kind of game fixing scandal in the Taiwan leagues in 2009.
That’s all in the past though, as the long haired reliever has looked amazing. He’s pitched in just one game, but was touching 96-97 with his fastball, and he also has a great slider. Technically he’s not part of major league camp, but could still make the roster anyways if he keeps looking this good.
The starters are building arm strength, slowly, and new starters McCarthy, and Anderson are acclimating well. Both have looked pretty solid, and are coming in with high expectations.
The defense has looked incredible. The Dodgers have made just nine errors this spring, and rank ninth in MLB in defensive efficiency. Newcomers Rollins, Kendrick, and Grandal are really going to help improve the club’s up the middle defense.
All in all the Dodgers have looked pretty good so far. Right now they have the best record in the cactus league at 8-2-4. The Dodgers need just one more tie to tie their own record for ties in exhibition play.
The club has a big series in San Antonio this weekend. It’s a split squad series, as some of the club will make the trip to San Antonio, while the rest of the club will remain at Camelback Ranch.
You can check out Stacie’s trip to Camelback Ranch in her Vlog series, if you would like to see an up close personal tour of the facilities at Camelback Ranch. You can check out her trip to Glendale here, and here.
We’re about 21 days until opening day on April 6! Our daily coverage will start up again, and we can’t wait to get back into the grind!