Spring training is in full swing for the Dodgers. Or getting close to it, anyway. Those who have yet to arrive have until Monday to report to camp. Most of the position players have reported already.
Speaking of swing and position players, Yasiel Puig is in camp, and he brought along a new bat- Lucille from the TV show The Walking Dead. I’m no expert, but I’m thinking this might not be MLB approved. I’m one of the very few who does not watch this show, but I’ll remain hopeful that there will be no zombies on the baseball field.
Earlier today, manager Dave Roberts said Puig will be seeing a lot of playing time in right field.
I’m very happy to hear this. No word (yet) as to whether Puig is in “the best shape of his life,” but looking at pictures he looks fit and trim, and like he has lost the weight that the front office had asked him to lose. When on his game, there is no one in the league like Puig, and I’m very hopeful this is the year he pulls it all together.
Someone who is said to be in very good shape coming into camp is Yasmani Grandal. Roberts said that this is the best shape in which he has ever seen Grandal. He is said to have switched to a plant-based diet, which he says has left his body smaller, but stronger. He is a Top 10 catcher according to The Shredder on MLB Network, and has always been at the top of the game in framing. Look for this to be a stellar year for the backstop.
One player who won’t be reporting to Camelback Ranch is outfielder Darin Ruf. The Dodgers sold his contract to the Samsung Lions in Korea. Along with Darnell Sweeney, Ruf came to the Dodgers from Philadelphia in exchange for Howie Kendrick. As there are a plethora of outfielders in the Dodgers organization, this move works out well for both parties. Ruf was due to make around $600,000 from the Dodgers, and his new contract with the Lions is for $1.1M. He also will see much increased playing time. For the Dodgers, it opens up a spot on the 40-man roster.
That one spot will go to officially signing either Chase Utley or Franklin Gutierrez. They will need to open one more spot to get them both on the 40-man. Earlier this week, pitcher Yimi Garcia was moved to the 60-day DL to make room for Sergio Romo.
It is always tough to root for a player after he has played for your rival, but after reading this story about Romo, I am developing a soft spot for him. This along with the fact that he grew up a Dodgers fan, and just looks utterly delighted to be in Dodgers camp, I’m just rooting for the best for and from him this season.
Up and down the organization, everyone is excited for the return of Utley. From Eric Stephen’s article at True Blue LA, Andrew Friedman said:
“I’ve never been around a guy that basically any moment in time, on the clubhouse or on the field, is doing something to try and help us win a game. Often times it’s about him getting ready for a game, but there are times where he’s watching video of our pitchers, just different things all with the mind of trying to help us win a game.”
Everyone on the team can benefit from Utley being back, from Corey Seager to Puig to Andrew Toles and back again. Even though players have only been at Camelback for two days, and it’s still not the whole team, it’s hard not to get excited for this team and the upcoming season.