In spite of losing Zack Greinke to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the failed trade for closer Aroldis Chapman and Hisashi Iwakuma’s three-year deal coming undone due to a failed physical, the Los Angeles Dodgers remain a confident bunch.
Winners of three consecutive National League West titles, Los Angeles is hardly the perceived locked to finish atop the division in 2016. However, don’t anoint the Diamondbacks or San Francisco Giants NL West champions simply because of a splashy offseason.
Speaking at the Dodgers fourth annual FanFest on Saturday, Adrian Gonzalez provided a reminder of the praise heaped on the San Diego Padres at this juncture last year and what their end result was.
The Dodgers first baseman went on to laud the club’s depth, believing they’re in far better position to withstand injuries this season.
Clayton Kershaw also spoke highly of the Dodgers’ roster, which returns the same core from last season. “Now that Howie [Kendrick] is back, we pretty much have our same team position-player wise. Corey is in for Jimmy, but other than that, we pretty much have the same group back,” Kershaw said.
“If we do what we’re supposed to do, we have an opportunity to be a great team. It’s just a matter of everybody doing what is expected of them.” As for replacing Greinke, Kershaw doesn’t feel additional pressure and believes filling the void will be done by a collective effort.
“Zack was obviously an incredible pitcher for us for three years, and last year arguably one of the best in the game. It’s not easy to replace a guy like that,” Kershaw said. “I think you have to look at it as not replacing him with one guy, but as a staff.”
This year’s FanFest was the first time the Dodgers ace was in attendance. “It’s pretty cool to see the excitement. It kind of rejuvenates us a little bit, understand the fans are excited for us to get back and going,” Kershaw said. “This is my first time back in L.A., so seeing the guys for the first time again is fun.”
Kershaw confirmed he had the opportunity to speak with Yasiel Puig during their trip to Cuba with Major League Baseball. “It was great,” Kershaw said of their conversation. Puig corroborated that message, and said he and Kershaw will speak again during Spring Training.