There will be no disaster draft. The Dodgers’ airplane has landed in Sydney, Australia.
Here’s how social media captured the moment Monday:
The Dodgers are somewhere over the Pacific Ocean as I type this blog entry. (I’m in Los Angeles. My skin isn’t Arizona-level dry anymore. It feels nice.) See for yourself: FlightAware.com is tracking the Dodgers’ airplane.
They will have a workout within a few hours of their arrival in Sydney, Australia and roughly another 60 hours before they play their first game against the Australian National Team. All this is by design — specifically, a design to get the players adapted to a time zone 18 hours away. The Dodgers even consulted with NASA, which is a great story for another day.
In the meantime, the club will attend a welcome gala and take a tour of Sydney Harbor. And, ideally, sleep a lot. If any of this makes for good copy it will probably be unplanned. I’m arriving Friday, the morning after the exhibition game. If the Dodgers want to play it boring until then I won’t complain.
Here is the Diamondbacks’ traveling roster. They are bringing 31 players because one, Ryan Rowland-Smith, is an Australian native who will also play for the Australian National Team in its exhibition game Thursday against the Dodgers.
Some bullet points for a St. Patrick’s Day:
As with many Dodger problems, this was a good problem to have. Too many options are always better than too few in the eyes of a team that carried eight starting pitchers on guaranteed contracts into camp a year ago, seven this year, and have a four-outfielder “dilemma” that makes for good sports-talk radio fodder.
First, the big move: Javy Guerra was designated for assignment and Chone Figgins was added to the major-league roster. The team’s closer coming out of spring training as recently as 2012, Guerra made seven Cactus League appearances, most recently Saturday against the San Diego Padres, and went 1-0 with a 2.25 earned-run average. He allowed nine hits and walked four batters in eight innings. Combined with the fact that he was out of options, that wasn’t a strong enough camp to move Guerra up the depth chart.
Guerra made just nine major-league appearances last year and allowed nine runs. The 28-year-old right-hander made more appearances for Triple-A Albuquerque after ceding the closer’s job to Kenley Jansen midway through the 2012 season.
“It just kind of came down to numbers really in spots,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s kind of been back and forth the last couple years. Obviously Javy’s a guy that I like. His stuff always plays. I feel like he’s a big league pitcher. Javy getting designated (for assignment) speaks to our depth — Chris Withrow and (Jose) Dominguez and some guys that you end up keeping.”
The Dodgers have 10 days to decide whether to place Guerra on waivers, trade him, release him or outright him to the minor leagues.
Figgins hasn’t played in a regular-season game in the majors since 2012, when he hit .181/.262/.271 in 194 plate appearances with the Seattle Mariners. His bat in camp wasn’t much sharper; he’s hitting .167 (6 for 36) with five singles and a double. Figgins hasn’t lost his eye at age 36. He’s drawn nine walks and carries a .326 on-base percentage, and that in turn drew praise from Mattingly earlier in the day.
Here’s the complete list of 30 players who will be making the trip:
J.P. Howell (L)
Clayton Kershaw (L)
Paul Maholm (L)
Paco Rodriguez (L)
Hyun-Jin Ryu (L)
Note that Figgins, who’s listed as an infielder, can play all three outfield positions. Baxter and Van Slyke, both listed as outfielders, have seen time at first base in camp.
I’ll take an in-depth look at the travel roster, what it means, and what it means for the players who were left off, in my next blog post.
Still in limbo:
Brandon League. “The biggest thing for us with Brandon is it’s the best thing for him to pitch over on that (minor-league) side,” manager Don Mattingly said, but he wouldn’t confirm that League is staying behind. Sounds like League is an insurance policy in case any pitchers (particularly right-handed relievers) sustain an injury today.
On the plane:
Chone Figgins. The Dodgers haven’t made a formal decision about Figgins, who is not on the 40-man roster and has hit poorly in camp. “We feel like his bat’s been OK. He hasn’t necessarily had that many hits but he’s gotten some walks to and had the kind of at-bats we like,” Mattingly said. “We feel the at-bats will get better and better. Not playing a year, he’s getting back to that.”
Justin Turner and Mike Baxter. Their numbers (Turner is batting .333/.432/.467, Baxter .286/.316/.343) and versatility left little doubt that they would make the trip. I thought I’d throw them on the list in case there was any confusion.
Chris Withrow. He wasn’t really in danger of being left off the plane either, despite walking seven batters and allowing four runs in five Cactus League appearances. Withrow’s value as a right-handed set-up man goes up if League finds himself working minor-league games the next 10 days. Since he has two options left on his contract, the Dodgers could have optioned Withrow to their minor-league camp. They might still do that after they land in Sydney, but by bringing Withrow the Dodgers have some additional bullpen flexibility for their first two games.
Not on the plane:
Carl Crawford. His fiancee didn’t give birth last night, so Crawford will not be on the plane. Mattingly said that the team will be able to place Crawford on the paternity leave list, so the Dodgers won’t have to burn a 25-man roster spot, or one of their three “exempt” roster spots, while Crawford plays minor-league games in Phoenix.
Matt Kemp, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett. We knew that already. Mattingly talked about the plan for Kemp this morning; he and Crawford will form a mini minor-league Murderer’s Row while their teammates play overseas. Greinke, Haren and Beckett will pitch some minor-league games in Arizona too.
Miguel Olivo. The catcher confirmed an MLB.com report that he asked for his release yesterday after being told that he won’t make the Sydney trip. The Dodgers had three healthy catchers on their 40-man roster in A.J. Ellis, Tim Federowicz and Drew Butera. They’re apparently comfortable with that trio, even if one of them gets injured in the final Cactus League game today. Ellis is starting and all four catchers in camp — including Olivo — are listed on the active roster for the 1 p.m. game against the Colorado Rockies.
Here are the lineups for both teams: