Don Mattingly returns to Dodger Stadium with a team that’s lost 11 of its first 17 games. The Marlins are not very good right now, and they face the added burden of being in the same division as the Washington Nationals, so they’re already 7 1/2 games behind in the NL East. They do have Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, and they have some guy named Bonds as their new hitting coach with Frank Menechino as his assistant. Fun fact: back in 2001 Bonds and Menechino swung at the lowest percentage of pitches of all major leaguers and still reached base at a combined .447 rate. One was more successful than the other: Bonds hit 73 home runs that season; Menechino’s slash line was .242/.369/.374.
They’ll send lefty Wei-Yin Chen to the hill. He’s 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in three starts. When he was with the Orioles he faced the Dodgers in 2013 and got a win. The Dodgers will counter with the second of their two surprising starters, Ross Stripling, who has a 2.65 ERA in 17 innings but hasn’t gotten a decision yet. Stripling stumbled his last time out in Atlanta when he gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks in 3 2/3 innings.
Lineup when available.
Hernandez LF Kendrick 2B Puig RF Turner 3B Grandal 1B Thompson CF Ellis C Culberson SS Stripling P
Huh. Utley gets a day off. Fine. Gonzalez gets a day off. Okay, but I didn’t know Grandal even owned a first-baseman’s mitt. Pederson and Seager also get days off, presumably because the Marlins are starting a lefty.
Scott Kazmir (1-1, 6.43 ERA) tries to get his groove back after two consecutive poor starts, both against the Giants. He’s only made one career start against the Rockies. It was at Coors Field and he got the win, but that was in 2007 when Kazmir was a Devil Ray. His opponent will be Jon Gray, the third draft pick overall in 2013. He made his ML debut last year, but tonight will be his first game of this season. He’s a righthander with a fastball, changeup, slider and curve.
Lineup when available.
Utley 2B Seager SS Turner 3B Gonzalez 1B Puig RF Grandal C Kendrick LF Pederson CF Kazmir P
I got to wondering and looked it up: Utley has the third highest number of hits this young season as a leadoff guy: 16. The two guys ahead of him are Gonzalez with 22 and Puig with 17. (Seager has 14 while Pederson and Hernandez each have 13).
Andre Ethier broke his lower leg (the tibia, for the purists) when he fouled a ball off it last Friday. He’ll be out 10-14 weeks. This means in all likelihood that Carl Crawford will be the Dodgers’ starting left-fielder for the first three months of the season.
So do all these injuries:
pitcher Frankie Montas had a rib removed and was placed on the 60-day disabled list. Brett Anderson suffered a bulging disk and had surgery. Hyun-Jin Ryu’s recovery from shoulder surgery has been slow and he won’t pitch in a spring game. Pitcher Josh Ravin broke his non-throwing left arm in an auto accident. Brandon McCarthy is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Brandon Beachy (elbow) and Mike Bolsinger (oblique) have had their fifth-starter candidacies derailed by injuries.
Seager sprained his knee almost two weeks ago, but is expected back by Opening Day. Starter Alex Wood missed a start with forearm soreness. Julio Urias was slowed with slight groin tightness. Caleb Dirks never pitched because of a back injury.
Yasmani Grandal missed several games with strained forearms and came out of Monday’s game after aggravating the right one. Alex Guerrero missed a week with a twisted knee. Adrian Gonzalez missed a couple games with a bulging disk in his neck. Howie Kendrick missed a handful of games with a tight groin muscle. Justin Turner has been eased back slowly after offseason microfracture knee surgery. Crawford missed a game last week because of a sore back.
Other than that, Dodgers’ fans, it’s been a great spring training.
The Dodgers start Mike Bolsinger (5-3, 2.38 ERA), back up from OKC. According to Mattingly he will remain in the rotation “beyond Friday.” His opponent will be James Shields (10-6, 3.78 ERA), who’s looking for his third win in his last four starts.
Justin Turner gets the day off at third base, and young Mr. Seager will replace him there. Jimmy Rollins is expected to play shortstop.
Lineup when available.
Tonight's #Dodgers lineup:
Bolsinger P #whiff
Update: Ernie Banks passed away today. The Hall of Famer and former Cub was 83 years old.
Baseball America has a recap of the Dodgers’ offseason moves, with some attention paid to the minor leaguers.
Aside from the Cubs, the Dodgers’ top three prospects are as strong as any other organization’s in baseball. Corey Seager, a shortstop for now who likely moves to third base, is one of the most talented hitters in the minors. Center fielder Joc Pederson is a 2015 Rookie of the Year frontrunner, while teenage lefthander Julio Urias has the makings of a future ace, combining plus stuff with feel for pitching beyond his years.
After the vaunted trio, the Dodgers farm system is in a better place than it was a year ago because of the emergence of depth beyond them. Their top 2014 draft picks—first-round righthander Grant Holmes and outfielder Alex Verdugo — both had strong debuts and look like potential impact talents.
We’re less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting. They do that on Feb. 19 and have their first workout Feb. 20. Position players report Feb. 24 and have their first workout Feb. 25.
Throw ’em into the fire now or give ’em another year? It’s a question more and more teams are facing. With the Dodgers, it’s 20-year-old Cory Seager at shortstop. The cons, as determined by Richard Justice:
He’s 20 years old.
He’s played only 38 games above Class A.
He’s scary good.
He’s passed every test so far
The Mets, Twins and Giants are facing similar decisions.
Obviously it’s a gamble. Sometimes it pays off, as when the Orioles brought up a 20-year-old named Cal Ripken in August of 1981. Probably more often than not it fails, or at least the kid has to go back down to the minors for more seasoning. Given the dearth of big league players looking for short-term deals (because the Dodgers don’t want to block Seager for years), they may decide they don’t have much choice.
Update: Vinnie turns 86 tomorrow. A couple of years ago ESPN celebrated his 84th birthday with a sequence of what it picked as his top five calls: