The eight-starter experiment was basically a big game of “what if”: What if Chad Billingsley‘s elbow doesn’t hold up? What if Ted Lilly isn’t the same pitcher he was pre-surgery? What if the best pitcher in Korea can be one of the best pitchers in the United States? What if he can’t?
Here’s another “what if”: What if the Dodgers hadn’t gone out and acquired Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and entered this season with the same collection of starters they had a year ago?
Now you’re looking at Nathan Eovaldi stepping into the fifth starter’s job to replace Billingsley. Oh, wait. Eovaldi hasn’t pitched since spring training because of a shoulder issue. He’s on the 60-day disabled list (currently the Miami Marlins’ problem). Come on down, Stephen Fife.
Former Dodgers outfielderShawn Green was in camp and in uniform as a special instructor this weekend. We got his thoughts on a variety of topics Sunday, including Sandy Koufax, the Hall of Fame, the Dodgers’ new owners, and his playing ambitions.
Green still has playing ambitions — more WBC ambitions than MLB ambitions — but he isn’t pressing the issue. At age 40, he’s content to be a father to his 7- and 10-year-old daughters. I’m saving that story for tomorrow’s editions.
Sandy Koufax made his spring training debut on Sunday for the Dodgers. He got rocked for a triple.
At least, that was the lazy conclusion to draw after Hyun-Jin Ryu threw one curveball in one inning against the Chicago White Sox, and DeWayne Wise drove it for a three-bagger. Five days earlier, Koufax was teaching Ryu a new grip on the curve — deeper in the palm of his hand — and Ryu tried it. Once. It was hit for a triple.
Chris Capuano tried another Koufax-taught technique Monday against the Cubs, pitching out of the stretch starting with his legs closer together than he had in the past (see here). This didn’t seem to work on first try, either. Darnell McDonald blasted a three-run home run off Capuano, who said he wasn’t comfortable out of the stretch in his first competitive inning of the season.
Sandy Koufax (second from left) was in his wheelhouse Friday morning: In the shadows of the bullpen mound, at a distance, at Camelback Ranch.
The man commanding the most attention at the Dodgers’ camp is also the least comfortable in the spotlight.
Through his work with the club’s pitchers, Sandy Koufax may prove himself to be a master mentor, Yoda and Mr. Miyagi rolled into one. But he’s never been one to embrace his celebrity. In that regard, this spring — even with Koufax donning a Dodger uniform for the first time in decades — is no different.
“It’s fun,” Koufax said during a brief media session Friday. “I’m having a good time. If I wasn’t having a good time, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
The press corps in Glendale hit “pause” Thursday on Eliezer Alfonzo Watch 2013 when the catcher was revealed to be suffering from dengue virus in his native Venezuela. He cannot travel for five to seven days. A non-roster invitee on a minor-league contract with the Dodgers, Alfonzo will report to the minor-league side when he gets here.
Alfonzo was the only player who had yet to report since pitchers and catchers were scheduled to arrive last week.
Matt Wallach hopped over from the Dodgers’ minor-league camp to fill out the major-league catching corps. The 27-year-old, the son of Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, has spent the past three seasons at Double-A.
Alfonzo was one of several veterans expected to push rookie Tim Federowicz for the open backup catcher’s job in spring. Wilkin Castillo, Jesus Flores and Ramon Castro are still around as non-roster invitees. Before camp opened, I stated that the biggest question surrounding Alfonzo was whether he could stay clean; now the question is if he can get healthy.
The greatest pitcher in franchise history has been appointed a special advisor to Dodgers chairman Mark Walter, the team announced Tuesday. Koufax will attend a portion of spring training to work with Dodgers’ pitchers and consult with the team throughout the year.
“I’m delighted to be back with the Dodgers,” Koufax said in a statement released by the team. “I’m looking forward to spending time with the team during Spring Training and to contributing in any way I can to help make the team a success for the fans of Los Angeles. Some of my most cherished memories came at Dodger Stadium.”