Dodgers Spring Training: 5 Things to Watch Before 2019 Cactus League Begins

Alex+Verdugo

As the spring training reporting dates for players are drawing ever so near, there haven’t been a typically high number of story lines surrounding the Dodgers, aside from a few light whispers about a long-shot trade or a free agent signing. Many people don’t expect much to happen during the time between the first squad workout and the Cactus League opener against the White Sox on February 23; however, we made a list of five things to look for during the early days of camp, which could impact the landscape of the squad come Opening Day.

Health & Fitness—It goes without saying that good health is of paramount importance for any MLB club, but with all the question marks about the fringe depth of the starting rotation, all eyes will be on the health of the big five: Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Rich HillKenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Should any type of injury dilemma surface early, it will be interesting to see who the Dodgers have in mind in terms of a No. 6 or even a No. 7 starter.

Along those same lines, shortstop Corey Seager will be watched with a careful eye, as he’ll be striving to assure his elbow is in peak condition after sitting out the majority of last season.

The Demeanor of the Kids—The confidence and attitudes of some of the youngsters shown early in big league camp could very well play critical when determining the 25-man roster, especially when lining up the aforementioned starting pitching depth. Buehler will be in the spotlight entering his second full year of big league action, as many fans wonder if he’ll be cut loose without any type of innings limit.

Alex Verdugo will also be critiqued early, as some believe there’s a chance that he’ll play large in the Opening Day outfield picture. It will also be interesting to see how the club handles lefty Julio Urias, as he will be facing some type of innings limit of his own.

Furthermore, all eyes will be on the quartet of the newest additions to the 40-man roster—Matt Beaty, Edwin Rios, Yadier Alvarez and Josh Sborz—as all four will be trying to jockey for positioning on the squad’s depth chart.

Joc Pederson’s Approach—Seemingly, Joc Pederson shows up to spring training every year with yet another tweak in his swing mechanics, and it will be interesting to see how the 25-year-old outfielder is swinging the lumber early this time around. Pederson, who saw a resurgence in 2018, hit .248/.321/.522 with 25 long balls and 27 doubles last year after hitting just .212/.331/.407 during the 2017 regular season. Pederson is expected to see the bulk of reps in left field against righty pitching in 2019, but that will depend on how well he produces during the early part of the year.

A Healthy Competition at Catcher—From the moment the Dodgers traded for veteran Russell Martin, speculation immediately began to swirl about how the club would handle the playing time at catcher. Many even believed that a trade for J.T. Realmuto was forthcoming, even though the Marlins are holding their lines as far as a very expensive return package goes.

In spite of that, Austin Barnes still has the momentum to see most of the starting time behind the plate. Battery preferences shown early by the coaching staff could dictate who gets the nod as the primary catcher early, most specifically in certain righty vs. lefty matchups. Barnes hopes to revert to the success he found at the plate during his rookie campaign in 2017 when he hit .289/.408/.486 with eight long balls and 15 doubles.

The Presence of Robert Van Scoyoc—The Dodgers hired the highly regarded Van Scoyoc, a 32-year-old innovative hitting instructor who helped turn J.D. Martinez into a superstar, as their new hitting coach in late November. Van Scoyoc preached the importance of launch angle long before it became mainstream across the league. His beliefs entail keeping swing paths through the strike zone as long as possible and lifting the ball in the air, concepts the Dodgers obviously utilized during their power-hitting themed 2018 campaign. He’ll certainly be under heavy scrutiny, as one of the key areas needing addressed by Van Scoyoc is the squad’s success at producing with runners on base.

 

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29 thoughts on “Dodgers Spring Training: 5 Things to Watch Before 2019 Cactus League Begins

  1. Glad the Realmuto saga finally finished. Sick of hearing about it. Some sites saying Harpernmay do a shorter deal say 3-4 years withnopt outs. Anybody here interested at 40 mil a year?

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    1. No player is worth that much. Frank Robinson passed away today. He was 83. Spent 1 year in Dodger blue and was traded..Alston hated the guy.

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  2. Oh, you’ll hear it all right, when we play the Phillies in the NLCS. They’ve now added Realmuto, Cutch, Segura, Robertson. Think of what they will have if they now sign Harper or Machado plus Kimbrel. Yikes!

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      1. They have money for everyone. After the news comes out that they have added Robertson, Segura, Cutch, Realmuto, Harper, Machado, Kimbrel and Keuchel, the Philly fans will be ecstatic. Almost as happy as we are here in L.A. after having signed Pollock and Quackenbush. Actually, I have this weird feeling that AF will still do something fairly big before the season starts. No idea what, and I’m probably wrong, but I just have a feeling (and no, I’m not thinking of the JD Martin signing).

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  3. Mesoraco signs with the Mets…….and believe it or not, another former Dodger, who I thought had retired, Dioner Navarro signed with the Indians. Well, now that Realmuto is out of the picture, the big domino’s should begin to fall. Harper is talking to the Giants. There was also a blurb that Machado is now seriously considering going to the White Sox.

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  4. Stop the presses! The reason we didn’t get Realmuto was because we were too busy negotiating this other deal, as per Ken Rosenthal:
    #Dodgers sign RHP J.D. Martin to minor-league contract, source tells The Athletic. Martin, 36, was #Indians’ first-round pick in 2001. Has thrown a knuckle-ball past three seasons, had 4.49 ERA at Double A with #Rays in 2018. Will work with Charlie Hough in L.A.

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    1. That one leaves me truly speechless…….Ol Andy strikes again with another brilliant under the radar signing. Knuckleballers are the ticket! IF THEY CAN FIND A CATCHER WHO IS ACTIVE WHO KNOWS HOW TO CATCH IT!! Or they can use the Bob Uecker method and wait until it quits rolling.

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  5. Hunter Pence has a new home…….Texas…..he signed a minor league deal with the Rangers who also signed Matt Davidson. The big news is that the DL is no more. MLB has announced it will now be called the injured list…..that;s refreshing.

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    1. Happy to see that Pence got a contract. Even though it’s a minor league contract, I’m thinking he should be able to make the Ranger roster. One of the good guys and maybe the dorkiest looking player in MLB history, from the way he wears his uni to his batting stance to the way he fields his position, but still a great guy and, at one time long ago, a real talent.

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      1. I loved watching the guy play. He was really something when he was with the Stros. Probably one of the better deadline trades the Giants have made in years.

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  6. I am a believer that Barnes, with the shadow of Grandal now in Milwaukee, has a breakout year. I think the kid got a bad start in spring last year because of his hand injury that everyone forgot about, and never got comfortable until late in the season. I also believe Martin is going to feel rejuvenated, as did Matt Kemp being back where it all began. If not, they have a couple of pretty talented kids waiting in the wings. Matt Joyce signs with the Indians.

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  7. I went back and watched a few games from last year. One was a game that Stewart made a spot start. He was terrible. The Phillies jumped on him for 4 in the 1st inning. The Dodgers came back and won when they scored 3 in the 8th inning. Another one I watched was the combined no-hitter in Mexico. Buehler was on that night. Then I watched a game that was played in Colorado when the Dodgers were getting untracked after their less than stellar start to the season. It was a bullpen game that Alexander started. It was also the game which Santana got his first MLB win. He gave up 4 runs, so he did not pitch exceptionally well, but he hit a bases clearing double off the wall at Coors that gave them the lead for a little bit. Then they rallied and scored 3 to take the lead, and he ended up with the win. Fun to watch stuff like that because you know they are going to win, you are just reliving the victory.

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    1. Take us back to the non competitive offensive meltdown in Game 7 – at home. And Game 1 last year. Kershaw line – 4 IP, 5 earned and a loss. And Game 4 is an all time favorite. Rich Hill goes 6.1 gives up 1 earned and the bullpen finishes with 8 earned.

      This team is and has been constructed to get close, but it is not built to plant it’s flag at the top. What willl change that? Players coming through in those clutch moments would surely help. Who are those players? Hasn’t been our highest profile players, that’s for sure. Turner and Freese did ok. Nobody else did much last year. Pitching? Buehler and Hill did ok. Jansen? BS in a must win Game 4. Kershaw? Meh.

      Maybe we need some new blood.

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      1. Why did you wait so long to tell us we need new blood? If you’d said something before the Winter Meetings I would have gotten right on it and probably had it all worked out by now. I am working on something Scoop, but please don’t tell the rest of the guys. Quackenbush has a cousin…………………………………….

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      2. Quackenbush cousin? That’s your plan?

        I’m looking at that picture of Verdugo and my thinking is…. I hope it was all or nothing because if he had to beat out a grounder on that swing I’m guessing he was out by a mile.

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  8. Who out there makes this team a World Series favorite? Realmuto, Harper, Machado? What deals do the Think Blue GM’s make and what’s the costs?

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    1. Favorite? None of those guys individually. The Astros, Red Sox and Yankees would all come in as favorites for the primary reason they are all better teams and also because they will likely have home field.

      Deals? Got me. The roster looks full right now. Most teams by this time have their Spring Training plan in place. Sure, deals will be made all year long. I don’t see the Dodgers in on anything worth talking about at this time.

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