Dodgers Spring Training Notes: The Dawn of Cactus League Play

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The first week of Dodgers spring training has come and gone, and the first game of the spring is upon us. The Dodgers will play the Chicago White Sox tomorrow, with whom they share the facilities at Camelback Ranch. Slated to be the starting pitcher is none other than Clayton Kershaw. He is expected to only pitch one inning. Taking their place in line behind him will be Alex Wood, Josh Ravin, Jacob Rhame, and Madison Younginer. Starters are expected to play through two at-bats.

Rich Hill will start Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers, and Kenta Maeda will start Monday against the Colorado Rockies. Both are said to have pitch for two innings in their respective starts.

In a surprise to absolutely no one, manager Dave Roberts also named Clayton Kershaw Opening Day starter. This will be the seventh straight season that Kershaw has started on Opening Day, which ties him with Don Drysdale for most in Dodgers history. If he gets the win, it would be his fifth, and he will also tie Drysdale for that mark. The Dodgers open at home April 3rd against the San Diego Padres.

The injuries have already started to rear their ugly head — but at least one to a pitcher will not have an impact on the starting rotation. Pitching coach/television analyst Orel Hershiser pulled a hamstring while demonstrating deliveries to pitchers in the bullpen. No word yet on how this will impact his broadcasts.

Speaking of injuries, this morning Roberts said that Trayce Thompson is not yet at “full go,” and will only be batting in controlled situations. He will be in simulated games before he is able to move on to actual games. Trayce has been participating in full workouts, however.

Cody Bellinger will see time at all three outfield positions this spring. He also will be filling in at first base while Adrian Gonzalez is away from camp at the World Baseball Classic.

Julio Urias looked dominant when he pitched to live batters earlier in week. He faced Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner. The hitters were only able to manage to hit weak grounders and flairs against the young left-handed pitcher. Of course, batters are usually behind pitchers at this stage of the preseason, but it’s very encouraging that Urias is looking so good already. Roberts said this morning that Urias will pitch in a game against major leaguers next week.

Hyun-Jin Ryu threw live batting practice on Sunday, when he faced four minor leaguers, and had three strikeouts. Most importantly, he did not have any ill effects from the outing the next day. He is expected to make a start this spring, but a date for that has not been set. Ryu is coming off a rough two years, having dealt with multiple injuries and set backs. He managed to make only one start last season before returning to the DL. But this spring, he has renewed confidence in himself and his health.

“Compared to last season, I feel kind of different. I guess it’s fair to say I feel confident about my body and my health,” Ryu said to the media. “Last year, because I was coming back from surgery and everything, I might have doubted myself and maybe that showed through. But during the offseason, I worked really hard, and then because of all the things I put into it, I feel confident in my body and my ability.”

I am very much looking forward to the return of a healthy Ryu. I hope that he will be able to regain his position as a starting pitcher, and that he doesn’t just end up a aft-injured player that never gets to fully regain what he once had.

In case you missed it, Ken Rosenthal had a wonderful piece on Sergio Romo. The more I read about this guy, and see how happy he is to be at Dodgers camp, makes me like him and want to root for him all the more, regardless of the former affiliation with the San Francisco Giants

And in the most important news of the week, the bracket for the annual clubhouse ping pong tournament has been made. Newcomer Darnell Sweeney had the unlucky draw of having to face Kershaw in the first round. Good luck to all the players!

(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERGIRLINPA)
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