Whether the Dodgers are ready or not, the season starts this week. It’s doesn’t matter how many pitchers are on the injured list, or how many players had a bad spring training—three days from now there will be meaningful baseball played.
A certain pessimistic, shall-not-be-named writer for a Los Angeles newspaper said that this year’s team is the most professional Dodgers team he’s ever seen. He does not lament the loss of Yasiel Puig, or anyone who would be wont to have fun, for that matter.
About a month ago, I wrote a story about things that this team has learned from its previous two trips to the World Series, and how those things could help the (hopefully) third time around. I personally have yet to comment on the Puig trade, even when Puig himself came out and said some less than stellar things about his time with the organization.
We all know the quotes from both sides, and there’s really no point in rehashing them now. The truth, I’m sure, as it often does, lies somewhere in the middle, and we will never know.
So back to this year’s team—is it the most professional? Does it matter? I could see some things mattering, like playing time. As Justin Turner said, “platooning was a by-product of last season, not the team’s primary philosophy.”
Barring the major injuries of last season, only left field will see consistent platooning. Enrique Hernandez has been pretty much named the starting second baseman, answering that question. As long as Max Muncy can hit, first base is his. David Freese will see some time starting, but will be mostly kept for late inning pinch hitting roles.
These last two Dodgers teams have definitely dealt with some adversity, whether thrust upon them or manufactured internally. And they have handled it well enough to make it back to the World Series. Every team is a little bit different. While I can’t say that the last teams were ‘not’ professional, I can see what that particular sports writer was saying.
I believe the combination of experience and, shall we say, roster realignment will only benefit the Dodgers this season. They have the depth and the maturity to weather injuries and whatever else the season throws at them.
I’ll leave you with another quote from Turner to start the season, because no matter what, the players still have to play.
“Do we believe we’re a good team? Absolutely. Every guy in here, to a man, thinks we’re a really, really good team, and have a chance to do something special. At the same time, that doesn’t count for a run. You don’t score runs because you’re supposed to be good. You still have to figure out ways to score runs and throw strikes and play defense. That’s what we have to do.”