“DodgerHeads” host Jeff Spiegel was recently joined by former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke to discuss the team’s 2021 season, Clayton Kershaw, free agency, key to being a bench player and more.
Van Slyke, who played for the Dodgers from 2012-2017, is now retired and hoping to find his way into coaching at some point. His career overlapped with that of Kershaw’s, Kenley Jansen’s and Corey Seager’s — each of whom are currently free agents.
“I think the last time I talked to him about this was probably a year ago, or more, because he foresaw it coming,” Van Slyke revealed of his conversations with Kershaw. “It’s something he’s been thinking about for a while.
“Obviously if you’re with somebody for as long as he has been, has the background that he has, and he also understands the history of baseball. He understands what it would’ve looked like if Pujols stayed in St. Louis, and Joe DiMaggio staying.
“There’s something about guys staying with the same organization that ages well in the baseball community. Nowadays, people bounce around. But, Clayton is different. I think he understands that aspect of baseball history and what that would mean to the fans.”
Van Slyke went on to pick whether he would be more surprised by Kershaw retiring or leaving the Dodgers, shared a never-before-heard story about the left-hander, and offered his perspective on Jansen’s free agency.
Dodgers bench struggles
The Dodgers struggled to find any consistency from their collective bench throughout the season, and one evaluator expressed surprise the front office didn’t do more to improve the unit.
Of course, there also is the aspect of how challenging being a pinch-hitter or bench player is.
“You paint cabinets every once in a while, get 10 days off and then somebody calls you and says, ‘Hey, we’ve got a scratch here in the cabinet. Can you come do this right now? Just drive over and fix this thing,'” Van Slyke explained as a correlation to the role.
“Yeah, you might be able to do it, but first you’ve got to load all your tools in your truck, and there’s a time limit so maybe you’re rushing to fix the scratch. You might get the job done, but it never feels right. It feels rushed. So to do that every single day for a full year, there’s no night off, really.
“If you’re a Matt Beaty, or a guy like me that came off the bench, you are always ready. You’re like that guy sitting on the couch by his phone, waiting for someone to call with a problem. It’s tough and it wears on you mentally.”
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