A.J. Ellis is back for his second year as the Dodgers’ starter, and hopes to be fully recovered from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in October. Matt Treanor is gone after one year as the backup. The Dodgers will go in a different direction by giving rookie Tim Federowicz the first crack at the backup job – a small but notably different direction from recent years, when veterans like Treanor, Dioner Navarro, Brad Ausmus, Mike Lieberthal and Sandy Alomar held the role.
The four non-roster invitees in this group are an interesting collection of characters, some with checkered pasts. Can you say “Real World: Camelback Ranch”?
In other words, no big names or surprises for the Dodgers on the first day of free agency. Players can only sign with new teams beginning at 9 p.m. Friday. Between now and then, the Dodgers can re-sign any of their in-house free agents, and they’ve already opened discussions with League’s representatives.
General manager Ned Colletti said that he would like to bring back Choate and Wright, as well, to keep intact a bullpen that finished the 2012 season strong.
Coffey, Rivera and Treanor now fall into the category of Victorino, Kennedy and Abreu: highly unlikely to be on the roster next season.
Blanton is an interesting case. The Dodgers gave him what amounted to a 10-start audition in August and September. In five starts at home, the 31-year-old right-hander went 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA. Not bad. In five road starts he was 1-3, 6.51. Bad.
It wasn’t fair to the lineup of minor-league campers who hadn’t even faced live batting practice yet, but Clayton Kershaw was pitching like the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Sunday.
Kershaw struck out five of the seven batters he faced, induced a groundout to third base, and allowed a broken-bat infield single to Jake Lemmerman– a 22-year-old from Corona Del Mar who can claim a new career highlight above the 21 Double-A games he played last season.
More importantly, Kershaw “felt fine” after throwing 25 pitches in his two scheduled innings in the Dodgers’ four-inning intrasquad game at Camelback Ranch.
“It was good to get into that game setting and get back into the routine of every fifth day having something to do,” he said.
The Dodgers’ opening day starter, Kershaw topped out at 93 mph on the radar gun — 94 if you include the ball Lemmerman put in play, a reading that can be obscured by the swing of a bat. Matt Treanor, who was calling and receiving Kershaw’s pitches Sunday, felt like the left-hander was throwing harder. He guessed 96.
“The sky’s the limit with that guy,” Treanor said. “I’ve hit against him. I’ve seen what he can do. The guy’s very special. He went out there today with a certain mindset and that’s the mark of a pro, really. He knew what he wanted to do and executed what he wanted to accomplish with the workout.”
More from Kershaw and left-hander Chris Capuano, who also threw two scoreless and uneventful innings Sunday, in tomorrow’s editions.