GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Dodgers had to be a bit creative in compiling the list of 30 players who will travel to Sydney, Australia for the first two games of the season.
As with many Dodger problems, this was a good problem to have. Too many options are always better than too few in the eyes of a team that carried eight starting pitchers on guaranteed contracts into camp a year ago, seven this year, and have a four-outfielder “dilemma” that makes for good sports-talk radio fodder.
First, the big move: Javy Guerra was designated for assignment and Chone Figgins was added to the major-league roster. The team’s closer coming out of spring training as recently as 2012, Guerra made seven Cactus League appearances, most recently Saturday against the San Diego Padres, and went 1-0 with a 2.25 earned-run average. He allowed nine hits and walked four batters in eight innings. Combined with the fact that he was out of options, that wasn’t a strong enough camp to move Guerra up the depth chart.
Guerra made just nine major-league appearances last year and allowed nine runs. The 28-year-old right-hander made more appearances for Triple-A Albuquerque after ceding the closer’s job to Kenley Jansen midway through the 2012 season.
“It just kind of came down to numbers really in spots,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s kind of been back and forth the last couple years. Obviously Javy’s a guy that I like. His stuff always plays. I feel like he’s a big league pitcher. Javy getting designated (for assignment) speaks to our depth — Chris Withrow and (Jose) Dominguez and some guys that you end up keeping.”
The Dodgers have 10 days to decide whether to place Guerra on waivers, trade him, release him or outright him to the minor leagues.
Figgins hasn’t played in a regular-season game in the majors since 2012, when he hit .181/.262/.271 in 194 plate appearances with the Seattle Mariners. His bat in camp wasn’t much sharper; he’s hitting .167 (6 for 36) with five singles and a double. Figgins hasn’t lost his eye at age 36. He’s drawn nine walks and carries a .326 on-base percentage, and that in turn drew praise from Mattingly earlier in the day.
Here’s the complete list of 30 players who will be making the trip:
J.P. Howell (L)
Clayton Kershaw (L)
Paul Maholm (L)
Paco Rodriguez (L)
Hyun-Jin Ryu (L)
Note that Figgins, who’s listed as an infielder, can play all three outfield positions. Baxter and Van Slyke, both listed as outfielders, have seen time at first base in camp.
I’ll take an in-depth look at the travel roster, what it means, and what it means for the players who were left off, in my next blog post.