Don Mattingly dropped a revealing opinion, perhaps unexpectedly, in his postgame chat today.
It appeared that, an hour earlier, Ted Lilly had done an OK job in two innings out of the bullpen in his first appearance of spring training. Keep in mind that Lilly hadn’t pitched in a competitive game since Aug. 16 of last year. The veteran lefty got Erick Aybar to fly out, got rocked by Howie Kendrick (who finished 3-for-3 with a single, double and home run) for a longball, then retired the next four Angel batters he faced. Day over.
“Teddy, he seems a lot more like Aaron (Harang) to me, from my point of view,” Mattingly said. “Taking longer to get loose, taking longer to warm up, all that kind of stuff.”
In other words, not a good bullpen candidate.
That would seem to make Chris Capuano, by default, the Dodgers’ preferred choice to move from the rotation to the bullpen at this point in time. This is a point in time when eight starters are healthy, so take that with a grain of salt. Things can change in the next four weeks.
At the very least Mattingly’s opinion offers a framework for what the Dodgers might be thinking — stash Capuano in the bullpen as a sixth starter, and if Billingsley ends up needing Tommy John surgery (or another starter goes down in spring), insert either Lilly or Harang into the fifth starter’s slot. Otherwise, try to move one or both pitchers. That would agree with what I’ve heard from knowledgeable people outside the organization; people inside the organization have no reason to tip their hand pre-flop.
• Clayton Kershaw seemed to think that his location was inconsistent in his second start of the season, as he allowed three runs (two earned) while allowing six hits and striking out seven in three innings: “I left some sliders up,” he said. “(Mark) Trumbo hit that ball hard in the first inning. … I threw some good sliders, got some strikeouts on that, a couple curveballs and a couple heaters too. It’s more location than anything.”
• Kershaw’s official reason for skipping the World Baseball Classic: “I think I owed it to the team to show I was healthy in spring training, even though I had two starts 100 percent (at the end of) last year … I know they (the team) didn’t feel great about me going. Hopefully in four years I’ll get the honor to do it again.”
• Lilly sounded relieved by his injury-free performance. “I felt like I got good work in,” he said. “I feel good with my breaking ball, sliders felt OK. For now it’s being able to spot my fastball on both sides of the plate.” He said he feels better than he did last year, when Lilly underwent shoulder surgery in September.
• Alfredo Amezaga went 2-for-2 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs and showed off a decent arm in right field.
• Dallas McPherson smacked an RBI double for first hit of spring training. You wonder what the threshhold is going to be for McPherson to earn the backup first baseman’s job. Does he simply need to be better defensively and offensively than Juan Uribe? Does he need Jerry Hairston to get hurt? Both?
• Here is the box score.
• Tomorrow’s game against the Dodgers will be televised on Fox Sports West at noon.