(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
If any avid Dodgers fan would have predicted in April that the club’s primary outfield group would consist of Howie Kendrick, Joc Pederson and Josh Reddick come the first of August, that particular fan would probably have been ridiculed and eventually ostracized completely from their own individual Dodger community.
Drifting back to mid-March when many positional rights were still being fought for during Cactus League play, it appeared as if Pederson barely had a stronghold on the center field spot, while a resurgent Yasiel Puig was poised to produce in right, along with veterans Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier battling for the starting nod in left field.
Since that time, Ethier is struggling to recover from a broken tibia and still doesn’t have a timetable for a possible return, Crawford has been banished from the squad, and it appears as if Puig isn’t a part of the team’s long term plans moving forward.
Scott Van Slyke was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a wrist irritation, yet recently activated utility man Rob Segedin gives the impression of having the necessary tools, at least from his early performances, to provide ample production at several positions.
All that being said, the Dodgers still have plenty of useful options. Even against left-handed starting pitching, the club has the luxury of running out a trio of Kendrick, Segedin, and super-utility phenom Enrique Hernandez, if it so desires.
There would seem to be a logjam if Ethier did indeed make a healthy return, and that’s not even considering if Trayce Thompson was able to produce without any limits later in September.
Looking at the future, should the injury bug bite even harder that it has been, rookie Andrew Toles has shown that he can man all three of the outfield spots effectively if needed, both with the glove and at the plate.
There’s no doubt that the Dodgers will place Puig on waivers in the next two weeks, if not just for the sake of shopping him to gauge what type of return they could receive in a trade. If the club decides to retain Yasiel or pull him back in off waivers at the last moment, an interesting scenario would arrive when he ups his game at Oklahoma City, and proves that he’s able to crush Triple-A pitching as well as reverting back to his superhero-like defensive capabilities.
With the front office likely to be scrambling with attempts of adding a quality bullpen piece or even an elite starter before the waver deadline at the end of the month, it’s probably safe to say that the outfield is pretty much set in terms of personnel, and should be poised to perform effectively down the final stretch of the regular season in what promises to be a very tight divisional race.