Just one week now before the Dodgers start the regular season, and we are a little closer to knowing the final 25-man roster. Dennis wrote a story yesterday about the state of the starting pitchers. That may have become a little bit more clear, with the outcome of Scott Kazmir‘s most recent outing. Manager Dave Roberts today confirmed that Kazmir will start the season on the DL, dealing with issues in his left hip.
The battle for utility player is still very much alive. Enrique Hernandez is seeing more playing time now that he has returned from the WBC. Whether he can outshine all that Chris Taylor has been able to do during spring training while he was gone remains to be seen. Hernandez may have a advantage over Taylor in the field, as Hernandez is better in center. There’s no denying how hot Taylor’s bat has been, and he’s been excellent on defense in the infield. The other player in the mix is Charlie Culberson, who is not currently on the 40-man roster. However, the 40-man is only at 39 players currently, so Culberson could be added to it if needed.
Rob Segedin and Scott Van Slyke are also battling for a spot on the roster. Van Slyke has been making a real push lately, with two stolen bases in yesterday’s game alone. Segedin is also making it interesting, with his .407/.448/.889/1.337 slash line. He also has three doubles and four home runs this spring.
One area that seems to have become more certain is Andrew Toles making the team. Andre Ethier is expected to miss time with the lower back hernia, and will not be able to start the season healthy. Roberts has previously stated that Franklin Gutierrez would make the team. Gutierrez, a right-handed hitter, was brought to Dodgers camp because of his ability to hit left-handed pitching well. Ideally, the other half of the left field platoon would be a left-handed hitter. My guess would be that SVS makes it over Segedin.
Asked about who would replace Ethier, Roberts didn’t say it necessarily had to be a lefty batter.
“But obviously you look at the roster, that’s what we envisioned” Roberts said. “But by default, it doesn’t have to be Andrew. There are guys that are having good camps and fit on a roster and are major league players. Those are decisions in discussions we will keep having.”
Trayce Thompson would be a remaining hopeful to make the team for an outfield slot, but he would also be there to face left-handed pitching, and that would not provide a good platoon with Gutierrez.
Toles had definitely made his case for making the team this spring in the batting department. He has a .340 batting average and .851 OPS, three doubles, a triple, and one home run — a grand slam in Saturday’s game. He did well at the plate last season too, going .314 in the regular season and .364 in the playoffs. It’s his fielding that has left a little to be desired. Still, has only played 48 major league games and has climbed the ranks of the Dodgers organization quickly.
“I don’t think it’s something he necessarily has to prove. He did show us a lot,” Roberts said of Toles. He went on to say, “Andrew is a major league player in my eyes.”
Four more games remain on the Cactus League schedule, before the Freeway Series with the Anaheim Angels begins this weekend. Just six short days to decide who makes the roster or not. The Dodgers have enviable depth at just about every position, and the real challenge will be for Roberts to keep all parties happy about playing time or lack there of, then move on to the goal of finally getting back to the World Series.
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