We’ve finally reached the first harbinger of Spring—pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Almost all were in camp yesterday, with Clayton Kershaw arriving today. There was no explanation as of this writing why Kershaw was late, but one could assume it was due to the terrible weather in Dallas, where Kershaw makes his off-season home.
David Price was out throwing today, quelling any doubt that he would be with the team this season after sitting out the 2020 season due to Covid concerns.
Joining Price on the mound for their first official throwing sessions of the spring were Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Jimmy Nelson, Dennis Santana, Enny Romero, Mike Kickham, Andre Jackson, James Pazos, Gerardo Carrillo, and Alex Vesia.
In a meeting with reporters afterwards, Manager Dave Roberts gave a few notes. He stated that Julio Urías has reported in the best shape of his life, the best he’s ever seen him to start a season. Catcher Keibert Ruiz is not yet in camp, as he is dealing with visa issues.
Roberts also stated that he expects Kenley Jansen to be the closer to start the season. “I think he’s earned that opportunity to start off as our closer. But at the end of the day, I want the guys that are pitching the best to finish the game.”
Down the road in San Diego, the big news is that the Padres signed their young, superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr to a 14-year, $340MM contract extension. The 22-year-old phenom is now slated to be in San Diego until 2035, and it signals that the Padres are in it to win it well beyond this season.
Much has been made of the additions that the Friars have made to keep up with their rivals to the north in the Dodgers. San Diego is definitely going to give Los Angeles a run for their money (pun intended) in the NL West. But, a lot of times, smaller market teams try to go big and end up falling back off after a year or two. This extension signals that the Padres are going to continue to try to wrestle the top spot in the division away from the Dodgers, who are looking for their ninth consecutive division title.
When asked if he was worried about the Padres, Dave Roberts said, “ I don’t mean to sound brash, or how do I say it….. I don’t mean to sound arrogant. But the fact is I really don’t (care about the Padres).”
The best way to approach a season is to worry only about the things you can control and about your own team. In that respect, Roberts is absolutely right to say what he said. But, it will probably be more locker rooms fodder for the Padres.
The burning desire to overtake the Dodgers is definitely there. The Padres finished second to the Dodgers in the division last season, and then were swept by them in the NLDS. They now have Blake Snell, who still carries the what-might-have-been burden from the World Series, when he was taken out in the sixth inning of Game 6 when he had been dealing, and the Tampa Bay Rays ending up losing the game, and subsequently the World Series. The Padres have been the Little Brother for a long time, and this season is going to be really fun to watch.