PASADENA — Dave Roberts is less than two months into his job as the Dodgers’ manager. Speaking at John Muir High School on Tuesday afternoon, part of the team’s annual community caravan tour, Roberts said he has touched base with most of his players, “quite often actually.”
After his engagement at the high school, Roberts said he planned to pop into Dodger Stadium, where the club’s Player Development staff is holding a leadership camp with select minor leaguers.
There’s still plenty on his docket between now and the time pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training — Feb. 19, a mere 24 days away. To that end, Roberts touched on a few aspects of what lies ahead in his first camp:
1. He’ll be selective about using Cactus League games to evaluate prospects (like Julio Urias, Jose De Leon, and the other young non-roster invitees). “We’ve done a great job accumulating talent and giving us options. To see these guys on a major league field, around major league players, is always fun. With Arizona spring training, it’s hard to evaluate, so you can’t get too ahead of yourself — with the light air, the ball flies. But just to see how these guys carry themselves in a major league clubhouse is exciting.”
2. He’s planning to involve Maury Wills, Steve Yeager, Sandy Koufax, and probably other alumni too. “For me, it’s a culture that I’m trying to continue, is respecting people that have come before us. Maury was a great Dodger. For him to be around, I look at him as a mentor. I think there’s a lot of things players can learn from him. Steve Yeager’s going to be out a little bit. I hear Sandy pops in out. The former Dodgers to be around, give a little nudge to the current players, is a good thing.”
3. He’ll have to give some players some bad news — some will have smaller roles than they want, some will likely be cut altogether — though he hasn’t had to do so yet. “We’re going to have meetings coming in with every player in spring training. Just be forthright. Obviously with baseball, a lot of things change. I think that the group understands that you could be slated to start now or you could be thrust into a starting role early. You just really don’t know. I hate to put anything in stone this early, but there’s a lot of different ways our roster is going to be set up and players are going to be used. No bad news yet. It’s coming.”