To be fair, here’s what the Dodgers did well in their first series of the season:
- Limited the Giants to a .208 batting average;
- Walked only two batters in the three games, while striking out 19;
- Didn’t allow a stolen base, while catching the Giants’ lone attempted thief;
- Turned a league-high seven double plays;
- In lieu of traditional offensive means, they got in the way of three San Francisco pitches.
OK, maybe the last one’s a stretch.
The positives paint a clear picture: the Dodgers pitchers were doing their jobs for the most part and, when they weren’t, the defense was helping out (Skip Schumaker‘s error last night serving as the obvious exception).
Here are some bullet points for an off-day for the Dodgers, except for Chad Billingsley, who will make his debut tonight in Rancho Cucamonga:
Punto went 2 for 4 with a double and scored twice. Gonzalez homered and drove in three runs and Cruz put Mexico up 5-1 with a sacrifice fly off Glen Perkins in the fifth inning. As Ice Cube once said, “it was a good day.”
Unless you’re the U.S., that is. The Americans play the Italians today and momentum is not in their direction. Italy beat Mexico on Thursday and can eliminate the U.S. from advancing to the semifinals with a win.
Monday’s game, the third of spring training for the Dodgers, began at 1:06 p.m. The Dodgers’ second batter stepped into the batter’s box 18 minutes later.
That’s because the Dodgers’ first batter, Dee Gordon, led off the bottom of the first inning with a 17-pitch at-bat against Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva. (Gordon struck out looking.) In the top of the first, Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley allowed hits to the first four batters he faced and surrendered two runs. It had the makings of a long game from the outset and it was: Three hours, 25 minutes total.
The afternoon was probably more memorable if Vin Scully was narrating it — which he was, if you had a radio Monday.
Kevin Gregg is trying to make the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee to spring training. (AP)
A year ago, the Dodgers’ bullpen lacked experience. Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen, the primary ninth and eighth-inning pitchers, had little more than two years’ service time between them. Josh Lindblom and Scott Elbert had only become full-time major league pitchers the year before.
So the Dodgers kept Todd Coffey and Mike MacDougal on their Opening Day roster despite brutal springs and signed Jamey Wright, a 37-year-old non-roster invitee. (Wright worked out, MacDougal didn’t, and Coffey had season-ending elbow surgery in July.)
“We’re still fairly young out there,” manager Don Mattingly said, “so it’s nice to have leadership out there in the ‘pen, guys who have been out there for a season and played on some championship-type teams. I’m not opposed to having experience out there for those guys. Brandon’s fairly young still at the closer role. Obviously the guys setting him up … are younger. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of experience out there.”
Still, it seems like experience alone won’t get Gregg and Moylan onto the Opening Day roster — both will need a strong spring training.
The Dodgers signed right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg to a minor league contract with an invitation to major-league camp Sunday. Gregg, 34, is 28-38 in 10 major-league seasons for the Angels, Marlins, Cubs, Blue Jays, Orioles.
A total of 19 players have been extended non-roster invitations.
Along with Peter Moylan and Mark Lowe, Gregg is one of three NRIs in camp with at least 250 games of major-league experience. Gregg has 509, almost entirely out of the bullpen. The right-hander was 3-2 with a 4.95 ERA in 40 games for Baltimore last season.
Click here for a complete breakdown of the relief pitchers in Dodgers camp.