Don Mattingly was asked a fairly straightforward question today: What are the most important competitions in spring training? He identified two.
“The biggest thing we look at for us is, is there going to be a left-hander that pops up? Maybe there’s two. See what happens with some of the older guys out in the bullpen. See if anybody emerges out there. On the infield, position players, those are guys we want to see – (Alex) Castellanos, (Scott) Van Slyke … Matt Angle – basically seeing some guys who may end up fitting with us by the time the year’s over if we have an injury here or an injury there.”
Scott Elbert pitched in 47 games last season out of the bullpen but the two other incumbent lefty relievers, Hong-Chih Kuo and Dana Eveland, have moved on. The other left-handers in camp (other than starters Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano) are John Grabow, Scott Rice, Wilfredo Ledezma, Matt Chico, Alberto Castillo and Michael Antonini.
Rice, Chico, Grabow and Castillo are non-roster invitees. Ledezma, a nine-year veteran, pitched in five games out of the Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen last year but spent most of the season in Triple-A. Rice, a Simi Valley native and Royal High grad, has 12 years of minor league experience but has never cracked the big leagues. Chico, Grabow and Castillo all have some major-league experience, while Antonini has five years of minor-league service, all as a starter, including last season with Double-A Chattanooga.
The starting infield positions are basically set: Juan Uribe at third base, Dee Gordon at shortstop, Mark Ellis at second base and James Loney at first. Adam Kennedy and Jerry Hairston Jr. are first in line as backups.
In other words, the opening-day roster is overwhelmingly set.