First it was the pitchers. Now the Dodger position players’ health is unraveling like a spool of thread with Mark Ellis‘ quadricep, Hanley Ramirez‘s hamstring and Jerry Hairston Jr.’s groin all giving out within a 10-day span.
Hairston could join Ellis and Ramirez on the disabled list soon if he isn’t able to play the outfield. Among the Dodgers’ reserves, only Skip Schumaker is a natural outfielder (infielders Luis Cruz and Justin Sellers have made cameos there during spring training). Manager Don Mattingly had a clear criterion for Hairston to avoid the disabled list.
“Either he can play the outfield or he can’t go at all,” Mattingly said. “Jerry’s going to need to be able to play the outfield for us to not have to make a move.” Continue reading →
There’s immense potential among this group, but questionable depth beyond the three starters – and an immediate need for depth. Remember when Shane Victorino and Torii Hunter were being mentioned as potential fourth outfielders? It’s because the need existed: Carl Crawford had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow and arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist in 2012, Matt Kemp had surgery to repair his left shoulder last October, and Andre Ethier can’t hit left-handed pitching. More on that in a bit.
In lieu of any big-name acquisitions, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Skip Schumaker — utility infielders who make occasional cameos in the outfield – might begin the season as the fourth and fifth outfielders. Crawford might well begin the season on the disabled list. With so many question marks, there will be plenty of focus on this group in the spring, beginning with the heart and soul of the Dodger lineup.
In their most lopsided result of the spring, the Dodgers crushed a Rangers lineup that featured all but one of their projected opening-day starters. [box score]
Clayton Kershaw, making his first Cactus League start, allowed three hits and a walk in three innings against his hometown team. He induced consecutive comebackers to Josh Hamilton (on a grounder) and Adrian Beltre (line drive) to end the first inning. Kershaw also picked off Nelson Cruz at first base; of his 42 pitches, 28 were strikes.
“This is as normal as it gets,” Kershaw said. “I threw everything –some sliders, curveballs; my changeup was terrible.”
In what the Dodgers hope is a normal occurrence, Matt Kemp went 2-for-2 with a home run, Juan Rivera batted cleanup and belted his first home run of the spring, and Andre Ethier went 2-for-2 with a triple. Prospect Alex Castellanos hit his second home run of the spring, his second in as many days.
The Dodgers are 3-1-1 after starting 2-6 last season, but manager Don Mattingly isn’t placing value on results yet — even a lopsided victory. “I’d much rather see us swing the bats,” he said, “but I also know we’ll hit a stretch where we don’t score.”
The Dodgers came within a couple innings of a shutout against the A’s at Camelback Ranch, getting two scoreless innings from Chris Capuano in his first Cactus League start Thursday. [box score]
Matt Guerrier, Mike MacDougal, Todd Coffey and John Grabow all threw scoreless relief innings in their spring debuts. Stephen Fife allowed a run in the seventh inning and Wilfredo Ledezma allowed the A’s other run in the ninth.
Adam Kennedy started at DH and went 2-for-2. Andre Ethier finished 1-for-2 with a two-RBI double in the fourth inning, raising his spring batting average to .500. Matt Kemp went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and two strikeouts. His spring average sits at .143.
Alex Castellanos, who was acquired in the Rafael Furcal trade last
season, blasted the game’s only home run off A’s reliever Travis Schilchting in the
Dee Gordon stole his first base of the spring, swiping second base after drawing a walk to lead off the game.