The ping-pong tournament is a trivial affair, of course. One consequence is that it can change the tone of the clubhouse, at least temporarily. So far it’s been a quieter room compared to the past few years – no surprise when you subtract a pair of outgoing cut-ups like Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez. Many of the newcomers have kept to themselves so far. A ping-pong tournament can change that.
Erik Bedard is starting the game against the Chicago White Sox. Note that designated hitters are used during the early weeks of Cactus League play. National League teams will be able to use their pitchers as the season approaches and the list of position players in camp thins out.
Mattingly also told reporters that Jimmy Rollins will bat leadoff this year. Rollins has led off 1,459 games in his career, so the manager had a fairly easy call here. The onus is on Rollins to prove that he can handle the job for a full season at age 36.
You might have noticed that Yasiel Puig is not in the lineup. That means he’ll likely play the next two days — Thursday and Friday, in one of the Dodgers’ split-squad games. Mattingly prefers to give his “regulars” two days of work followed by one day off. Looks like Puig is getting his day off early.
And hey, he can’t be late to the first game of the season.