Dodgers News and Notes from Day One of Spring Training

Happy Pitchers and Catchers Report Day to all who celebrate!

The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team is going to look quite different this season than it has previously. 12 members of last years team are off to other various baseball adventures, or retirement. (Godspeed, Jake McGee. And probably David Price).

The clubhouse will miss its defacto captain, Justin Turner. They of course will still have the incredible veteran leadership of Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Clayton Kershaw. The core group is strong. It will be interesting to watch how the starting nine and rotation shake out as Spring Training continues.

There was a new/old name in the locker room Wednesday morning. The Dodgers have reportedly re-signed pitcher Jimmy Nelson to a one-year contract. It is a Major League contract, and could be worth up to $4M based on performance bonuses.

The right hander has spent the last three seasons with the Dodgers organization, most of it on the injured list. He has pitched only 28 times in the majors, all in 2021. He went 1-2 with a 1.86 ERA including one start, over those appearances.

Nelson has most recently been recovering from Tommy John surgery and a flexor tendon repair. Last season Nelson was quoted as saying there was “unfinished business” with him and the team.

Blake Treinen’ spoke to reporters Wednesday about his progress in recovering from his surgery. He indicated this injury was different from his capsule injury, and it impacted his ability to throw a cutter. The reliever had thought he would be able to recover enough to have an impact in October.

Treinen said that he thought his shoulder was in a good spot now, and does not yet want to rule out pitching in the 2023 season.

A couple of MLB housekeeping notes –

There will be bigger bases this season. The idea had been floated for a few years and will finally be implemented this year. The new bases are 18” as opposed to the previous 15”. It will reduce the distance from third to home, and home to first, by three inches, and first to second and second to third by 4.5”.

This will also be the first season with a pitch timers. Pitchers will have only 15 seconds between pitches to throw the next one when the bases are empty, 20 seconds with runners on, and 30 seconds between batters. Umpires will wear little buzzers to let them know when time has expired.

Hitters get only one time out per at bat. The penalty for going over the time or timeout limit will be an automatic ball for the pitcher, and strike on the batter.

Clayton Kershaw had this to say about the pitch timers – “I’m going to try to not get a shot clock violation”

It’s good to have baseball back.

15 thoughts on “Dodgers News and Notes from Day One of Spring Training

  1. This should be the most interesting Spring Training in years.

    The new “shot clock” rules for pitchers and hitters are going to drive some of them crazy and we’ll see all kinds of penalties called until they get used to it.

    Because of the large amount of Dodger players participating in the WBC, a lot of young prospects will get more spring playing time than usual. I’m especially looking forward to getting a closer look at Miller, Stone, Cartaya and Rushing, none of whom is likely to start the season on the major league roster but any of whom could wind up being a long term Dodger standout.

  2. The rule that bothers me most is the permanent use of a ghost runner at 2B during extra innings. Too hokey in my opinion.

    1. I’ve noticed that a lot of fans have a major problem with the ghost runner rule.

      I just can’t get myself worked up about it, one way or the other. And that surprises me. I’m always looking for a reason to get upset. 🙂

      1. I don’t mind the ghost runner rule as a whole. I think it would be better if they did not start using it until the 12th inning. From what I have read, the players and managers like it.

  3. Yes, Andy. “Happy Pitchers and Catchers Report Day to all who celebrate!” To baseball fans, it feels like we are reporting, as well.

    I read that Roberts is already fielding questions about single closer or closer by committee. He should decline to use the word ‘closer’ at all. Instead, use a simple “We plan to use the best pitcher appropriate for each in-game situation” and stick with it. Reporters love closer drama.

    1. Some day Waldo, some day.
      I’m always surprised somebody hasn’t come up with statistics showing how many games are lost or won in the 7th, 8th or 9th inning. The closer position, in my opinion, is generally low pressure situation, unless he causes his own pressure. Relievers often come Into a game with someone else’s runners already on base.

  4. Yes, Gordon. That reminds me of something I intended to do. That is look up the leverage index (LI) for relief pitchers last year. LI is a measure of how often a pitcher is used at potentially pivotal times in games. The exact definition is debatable. But it would be fun to see which non-closer pitchers have LI as high as “the closer”. Also is a high LI for non-closers overall a measure of teams reliant less on a single closer? Is it also a clue about which non-closers are more talented or highly valued by the team? Good stuff.

      1. Two sources. Each November I get a copy of the Bill James Handbook. It has numbers of almost anything that can be measured about players. Everything from the finished season, but also player lifetime numbers by season and totals. More player centered, less team centered. After getting my copy I am not seen for two weeks of reading.

        Also the website Fangraphs has them. Search by Teams -> Pitching Stats(by year) -> Relievers -> Team Name (for list of all relievers) -> Win Probability heading -> Column pLi [whew]

      2. Thanks, Waldo. I’ll have to check out Fangraphs.
        Not sure I have the patience to wade through Bill James’ book, although I think my son gets it most years.

      3. Quick trivia question:

        Q: Who was the only Dodger player last year who had a pitching Leverage Index of zero?

        A: Correct! Hanser Alberto. Those outings were not exactly game deciding moments. [laughing]

      4. We may not miss Hanser the infielder this year, but Hanser the pitcher filled a valuable role last year.

        I hope we get as much of a contribution from Jimmy Nelson, Alex Reyes and Shelby Miller.

  5. There is a new rule about that Jeff. Position players can only pitch in the 9th inning if their team is behind by 10 or more runs. They cannot pitch in extra innings. Vargas assigned #17. He is making the team. Andriese gets Cody’s 35 and Peralta gets hit #6.

    1. I’m not happy to see that Busch is wearing #84, Outman #77 and Zimmer and Duggar have been assigned numbers 8 and 12.

      That doesn’t bode well for the young guys, although I guess Outman might actually decided to keep 77.

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