The Los Angeles Dodgers must be careful about wedging too many inexperienced players onto their Opening Day roster without balancing them out, as Athletic writer Fabian Ardaya effectively warned in his mailbag column this week.
That's absolutely a justified take, especially after so many departing players created a leadership void in the Dodgers locker room this offseason. You saw how long it took Gavin Lux to earn his keep over the past few years, and that was within a stable ecosystem led by Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and the lot. Now, after Lux's injury, the Dodgers are going to send five rooks to the front of the line for Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts to babysit? Could get troublesome.
That said ... you can't keep outfielder James Outman down in the minors after what he's shown this spring. And if the Dodgers front office is going to put up a forcefield around the issue, perhaps they'll listen to rehabbing reliever Daniel Hudson.
Hudson, who's been tossing on side fields in an attempt to hustle back to the big league roster, didn't take kindly to being forced to pitch to a scorching hot Outman this week. He was so peeved, in fact, that he invoked the name of a legend.
"Second time facing hitters in eight months, and I’ve got to face Babe Ruth over here."- Daniel Hudson, via Fabian Ardaya
James Outman, aka Babe Ruth, must make Dodgers Opening Day Roster
Outman as Babe Ruth, Miguel Vargas as Lou Gehrig ... I mean, when you put it that way, it's much easier to see the Dodgers' path to contention!
With all due respect to the iconic Ruth, Outman has also been calling his shot plenty this spring. Through his first 23 at-bats, the former seventh-rounder was hitting a scorching .391 with a 1.247 OPS and a pair of homers. Add that to his small-sample-size .462 average in 13 ABs last summer, and it's safe to say Dodgers fans are bellyaching for more Outman.
With Bellinger out of the picture, the path for Outman is perfectly clear -- unless the Dodgers start trying to gum it up with more veterans. Who knows? Maybe Shohei Ohtani rolls up at midseason or during next offseason and is able to teach Outman a knee-buckling curveball. Then, he can really go full Ruth, playing alongside the next-best thing.