With Opening Day a little over a week away, the Los Angeles Dodgers are focused on getting their regular players prepared to play nine innings, along with making final roster evaluations.
Perhaps the biggest concern so far this spring has been the elbow of Corey Seager, although he played the field in his first Cactus League game last Friday and came out of it with no issues.
He is in the lineup and playing shortstop again on Sunday, and before the matchup with the San Diego Padres, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that Seager will check off another box. “The next two days is the back-to-back, five to seven innings for him,” Roberts said.
As appeared the case one week ago, the Dodgers starting rotation has largely fallen into order. Kenta Maeda threw a bullpen session on Saturday, and Rich Hill followed suit Sunday morning.
Roberts confirmed the Opening Day rotation will be Clayton Kershaw followed by Alex Wood, Maeda, Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu. “I think that we’re set right now as we see it, we have one off day, that’s what we’re kind of thinking,” Roberts said.
He added that both Hill and Maeda will be on the backfields on Sunday getting some at-bats in a Minor League game. “I think for us, there’s a camp day over there, so just to get them in the batter’s box, sometimes they can’t make it happen here with their starts on this side,” Roberts explained.
“So to get three at-bats over there, simulate a bunt situation to kind of get a few repetitions in, and we’re going to do that a little bit more too.”
Justin Turner is away from camp on Sunday as he headed back to California for the Los Angeles Marathon. His foundation is an official charity of the event. Roberts didn’t have a problem with Turner being away from camp for such a cause.
“I think it’s great. He’s obviously done a lot in the city and I think that even for me talking about the workload for guys this spring,” Roberts said.
“We have two days off over the six weeks and I try to give certain guys a couple extra days to be away just for kind of their own days. For Justin, he wants to take his personal day to be with the community and I think that’s fantastic.”
Kershaw is making his fifth start of the spring on Sunday against the Padres and is scheduled to throw around five innings and 75 pitches. Kershaw has tossed 9.2 shutout innings so far this spring, and Roberts has liked what he has seen so far out of his ace.
“It is only spring, we’re talking about Clayton Kershaw,” Roberts joked. “So the No. 1 thing is for him to build up the pitch count. His last outing is the best I’ve seen him spin the baseball consistently.
“His fastball command has been pretty consistent from the beginning and the velocity has been fine and when you add in adrenaline and things like that then that will tick up as well, so Clayton is exactly where he needs to be.”