The Dodgers’ first game of spring training served a valuable purpose for everyone who watched it unfold on a cold day at Camelback Ranch: It reminded us that in spring training, the whole is always less than the sum of its parts.
We hope you took the under on Dodgers runs scored; more than that, we hope you don’t bet on Cactus League games. The Dodgers had their chances to score, and their bats picked up after Juan Uribe ruined Chicago’s chance at a perfect game with a single in the third inning. That sentence may never be written again.
Here are a few takeaways:
In one sense, Clayton Kershaw seemed like the same pitcher who has won back-to-back National League ERA titles on Saturday: He was his own harshest critic.
Kershaw allowed four hits, including an Armando Rios double, and two earned runs in his two-inning Cactus League debut. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, it set the tone in a 9-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
It was only one at-bat, and it was only spring training. But it was Andre Ethier’s first at-bat of spring training against a left-handed pitcher, so naturally it commanded a lot of attention.
Ethier stroked an opposite-field triple in the fourth inning Saturday against Chicago White Sox southpaw Leyson Septimo. He finished the exhibition opener 1-for-2, and after the game cautioned against making too much out of a small sample size.
“(If I) get five extra hits in the year, you guys aren’t going to talk to me about it,” Ethier said. “It’s that simple.”
Hanley Ramirez is batting leadoff in the Dodgers’ first game of spring training against the Chicago White Sox. Most of the other regulars in the lineup slotted into a familiar position: Mark Ellis second, Adrian Gonzalez third, Andre Ethier fourth, A.J. Ellis eighth. So what’s up with Hanley hitting first?
“I wanted to make sure I can get him three at-bats without having to play him seven innings,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly has said that he envisions Carl Crawford batting first once the regular season begins. But with Crawford’s uncertain health status, the Dodgers must use spring training to explore their options for the leadoff slot.
Mark Ellis batted leadoff much of last season. So did Dee Gordon, though he’ll need luck on his side to be there on Opening Day in Los Angeles.
Other Dodgers in camp who started games in the leadoff position last year include Tony Gwynn Jr. (21 games), Skip Schumaker (8 games for St. Louis), Elian Herrera (7), Jerry Hairston Jr. (6), Nick Punto (5) and Justin Sellers (1).
If you were at Dodger Stadium last July 14, this memory was probably burned in your hippocampus:
Carl Crawford feels like he’s ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery last August. For fans hoping to see him play extensively this spring, the feeling won’t be mutual.
Sandy Koufax (second from left) was in his wheelhouse Friday morning: In the shadows of the bullpen mound, at a distance, at Camelback Ranch.
The man commanding the most attention at the Dodgers’ camp is also the least comfortable in the spotlight.
Through his work with the club’s pitchers, Sandy Koufax may prove himself to be a master mentor, Yoda and Mr. Miyagi rolled into one. But he’s never been one to embrace his celebrity. In that regard, this spring — even with Koufax donning a Dodger uniform for the first time in decades — is no different.
“It’s fun,” Koufax said during a brief media session Friday. “I’m having a good time. If I wasn’t having a good time, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Steve Garvey, who starred for the Dodgers playing first base from 1969 to 1982, is battling prostate cancer.
The 64-year-old couched the announcement in a press release for an upcoming memorabilia auction. Garvey, Rollie Fingers, Bret Saberhagen and basketball star John Havlicek will be auctioning items from their personal collections online April 10.
“This past fall I was thrown a nasty curve and battled prostate cancer,” Garvey said in the release. “I decided on a radical prostectomy operation at UCLA, and through God’s grace it went well. I will continue to monitor my progress, but will now dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to prostate awareness. Through SCP Auctions, the Garvey family will also continue to share our great love for baseball by donating time and dollars to youth baseball programs.”
A radical prostectomy (or prostatectomy) is an operation performed to remove the prostate gland and some of the tissue around it.
Don Mattingly hasn’t filled out his lineup card yet for tomorrow’s Cactus League opener against the Chicago White Sox. But the Dodgers manager revealed Friday that he’s planning to start Andre Ethier in right field, Skip Schumaker in center field and Jerry Hairston Jr. in left.
Clayton Kershaw is expected to start and pitch roughly two innings, which would give the Dodgers the minimum four regulars that teams must use in exhibition games. “Regulars” has taken on some loose definitions in the past, but at least none of these four players will start the season in Triple-A.
“We’re going to use our guys,” Mattingly said. “We have to get them ready. Our number one objective is to get guys ready. During that, there are rules … within that, as far as pitchers and how we’re doing it, you’re trying to get your team ready knowing that you’ll have guys that are out there.”
Five Dodgers will be represented in the World Baseball Classic, according to final rosters announced Thursday.
Ronald Belisario (Venezuela), Luis Cruz (Mexico), Adrian Gonzalez (Mexico), Nick Punto (Italy) and Hanley Ramirez (Dominican Republic) will all leave the team in March to compete in the third edition of the tournament, which will crown its champion March 19 in San Francisco.
Paco Rodriguez (Spain), Peter Moylan (Australia) and Alfredo Amezaga (Mexico) were listed on their respective country’s preliminary rosters but elected not to participate.