Dodgers Spring Training Notes: Opening Day Roster Taking Shape

For those readers who remain enthused about the Opening Day 25-man roster of the Dodgers, manager Dave Roberts revealed a few more hints as to how his squad will stack up against the Diamondbacks next Thursday.

First and foremost, the team named lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu as the new starter for the opener, replacing ace Clayton Kershaw, who will begin the season on the injured list with problems in his left shoulder.  Ryu will be the second Korean pitcher to make an Opening Day start for the Dodgers, as it comes 18 years after Chan Ho Park started the home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 2, 2001.

Coincidentally, Park earned the victory after throwing seven scoreless innings, scattering just five hits and two walks while striking out seven opposing batters.

In other big news, it was revealed that veteran southpaw Rich Hill will begin the season on the injured list. According to Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times, Hill said he “hurt his knee on his fourth-to-last pitch in his start last Sunday. He tested it in a bullpen and felt it again so he underwent an MRI that night. It showed a Grade 1 MCL strain.”

Consequently, it was confirmed that Julio Urias or will take Hill’s spot in the starting rotation. Head boss Andrew Friedman said on Friday that the young lefty will remain in the rotation only until Hill is ready to return.

Furthermore, Roberts stated the Ross Stripling will start the second game of the season next Friday. As a result, the rotation—to begin the season, anyway—will line-up like this: Ryu, Stripling, Kenta Maeda, Walker Buehler, and Urias.

Other players who were told on Friday that they’ll make the Opening Day roster include: Caleb FergusonAlex Verdugo, Yimi Garcia and Dylan Floro.

Many close to the team were concerned that Verdugo might have been the odd man out if Brad Miller made the team; however, Miller was granted free agency after he was informed Thursday about his omission from the big league roster.

Stay tuned tomorrow morning as we’ll roll out our final projections and details for the full 25-man Opening Day roster.

 

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5 Key Takeaways from Dodgers’ 2019 Spring Training

Now that there’s only a week to go before the Dodgers open the 2019 season, some thoughts about spring training so far are in order.

A.J. Pollock is a smart player—Many fans were weary of the oft-injured A.J. Pollock signing, and that’s fair. Looking at how he was injured, though, he seems to have just run into bad luck as opposed to being a player that is not healthy. One thing that stands out to me is he’s a very smart player, in addition to being a very good player. His heads up play in last night’s game against the Cubs, racing in from center field to cover second base, allowed the Dodgers to turn a 1-5-8 double play. He’s seemingly fitting in quite well in the Dodger clubhouse, even joining in Ross Stripling‘s hair band. While spring training stats don’t mean everything, in 16 games he’s slashed .289/.385/.556/.940 with three homers, three doubles, and a stolen base. If he keeps that steady all season, he will be well worth the signing.

A bad spring training doesn’t mean a bad yearMax Muncy and Chris Taylor are not having the best spring. Muncy is batting .143, and has yet to homer. Taylor is only slightly better, batting .191 with one homer. Muncy has been battling a sore arm, which may be the reason he’s not hitting well at the moment. This team has enough other hitters to carry either or both while they get it together. And if they don’t, they have the players to replace them.

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish—It’s okay that Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias not ready to start the season as usual. Kershaw will start the year on the injured list, Buehler is not ramped up in pitch count yet, and Urías will start the season in the bullpen. All these pitchers will be heavily relied on to get the Dodgers through to the World Series again, and that’s more important than where they start the season. It is a huge bummer that Kershaw will not get to continue his streak of Opening Day starts, but I am here for Rich Hill having that honor. (Hill has not yet been named Opening Day starter, but his current path lines him up perfectly to do so).

Seager is back!Corey Seager played in his first game since April of last year, and he picked up right where he left off. In his first at-bat, the ball almost left the field, and his second at-bat, it did. He told reporters after the game that it was a good sign that he had no thoughts about his hip or his elbow during the game. His bat back in the lineup is maybe the best addition of this season.

Justin Turner is amazing—Just wrap him in bubble wrap and send him back to Los Angeles for the next week.

Feast or famine. While the Dodgers offense is no doubt going to be powerful, and hit a bazillion home runs, it appears there will also be a lot of strikeouts. Hopefully, that is something they can work on as the season progresses.

All in all, the team looks ready to go. I have a feeling it will be a much better start to this season than it was to last year’s campaign. And let’s hope for a better end, too.

 

Clayton Kershaw Continues to Progress

Despite being faced with the realization that he won’t be making his ninth consecutive opening day start, Dodgers‘ ace Clayton Kershaw continues to progress towards game action.

On Wednesday, Kershaw threw a 22-pitch bullpen, three days after throwing a 38-pitch bullpen when he used his full arsenal of pitches. In Wednesday’s session, Kersh faced live hitters, as Joc Pederson, Max Muncy and David Freese all assumed spots in the batters box.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported on Wednesday that Kershaw “sounded patient after his throwing session, conceding he hasn’t had a spring training and needs a methodical progression to rebuild arm strength before returning.”

According to Gurnick, Kershaw estimated 20 days until he’ll be ready for big league action.

When Kershaw was asked about his thoughts regarding the end of his consecutive opening day starting streak, the three-time Cy Young Award winner replied, “I had a good run.”

Skipper Dave Roberts, who confirmed to reporters earlier in the week that Kersh will begin the season on the injured list, said on Wednesday that his lefty “felt good and that CK was positive after his session.”

Roberts added that Kershaw will pitch two innings in another batting practice session in another five days.

In his pregame chat with the media on Wednesday, Roberts still did not reveal the team’s opening day starter, but he did confirm that it would not be young righty Walker Buehler, who figures to be the team’s “ace-in-waiting.”

In other news, Alanna Rizzo announced that Chase Utley will be joining the SportsNetLA broadcast team for a select number of games during the upcoming campaign.

Wednesday’s Cactus League lineup vs. Cubs:

  • Pollock CF
  • Turner 3B
  • Seager SS
  • Hernández 2B
  • Bellinger RF
  • Taylor LF
  • Barnes C
  • Rios 1B
  • May P

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM Los Angeles time.

 

How Will Dodgers Handle Julio Urias at Beginning of 2019 Season?

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There’s been quite a bit of speculation about the way the Dodgers might handle lefty Julio Urias to begin the 2019 season. I wrote a story about three weeks ago exploring two possible scenarios, but those viewpoints have seemingly changed since the news broke about fellow southpaw Tony Cingrani opening the year on the injured list.

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More Thoughts on the 2019 Opening Day Roster

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There’s only 10 days left until the Dodgers open up the 2019 season against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and although the roster has yet to be finalized, we have a pretty good idea of who is going to make the Opening Day roster.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Tony Gonsolin Continues to Shine

Tony-Gonsolin
(Photo: Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports)

Without fail, there are at least a couple prospects every spring making a case for their inclusion on the big league roster. Spring camp is the one time of the year these youngsters have a chance to compete against veteran players at the highest level, despite many of the vets taking the field to polish up mechanics or fix a small tweak here and there.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: Muncy, Seager, Cingrani & More

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The Dodgers were dealt perhaps their biggest blow of the spring injury-wise when the team’s medical staff revealed that lefty reliever Tony Cingrani would miss the beginning of the season with shoulder soreness.

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Is Brad Miller The Dodgers’ 2019 Diamond in the Rough?

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Dodgers
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Whether the Dodgers were lucky or saw something the rest of the majors didn’t, there is no denying that in the last two seasons they have struck gold with two players who were seemingly cast aside by other teams.  They did it in 2017 with Chris Taylor, and most recently in 2018 with Max Muncy.  Could Brad Miller be that for the Dodgers this season?

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Dodgers Lineups: Kiké Hernández Making Case as Primary Second Baseman

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(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

While it’s certainly nice to have a bench player who can cover any spot on the field, it’s tough to keep said player on the pine when he’s performing better than many of the starters.

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A Quick Look at How the Dodgers Stack Up in Vegas

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a page from our buddy Scoop’s baseball handbook, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at how the Dodgers are projected to fare in Las Vegas, now that a few of the big names are off the free agent board.

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