When the Los Angeles Dodgers reported to Camelback Ranch for the start of Spring Training, it was with a surplus of options to round out their Opening Day rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and David Price.
In some sense only one spot was available as Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman had already named Julio Urias as the likely fourth starter. Manager Dave Roberts reiterated that stance early into camp.
Meanwhile, dating back to the offseason, Alex Wood regularly asserted he was going to be final piece to the puzzle. Wood expressed as much after his first Cactus League start, but Roberts passed on the opportunity to make it official.
Upon naming Kershaw the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter for this season, Roberts additionally confirmed Urias’ and Wood’s places in the rotation as well, via Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
The manager added that Buehler, David Price, Julio Urías and Alex Wood will follow Kershaw in the rotation, in that order.
Wood exclusively pitched as a starter upon being traded to the Dodgers in 2015, but he made multiple relief appearances in each of the next three years. The 29-year-old has held he would not have re-signed with the Dodgers unless it was to fill a starting role.
“I came back here knowing I’m going to be in the rotation and we’re going to go from there,” Wood recently said. “Once the season starts, things can change. You have to perform, but I came back here fully cemented in the rotation.”
Wood is coming off a season in which injury limited him to just seven starts for the Cincinnati Reds. He is among the Dodgers pitchers who visited Driveline Baseball and is optimistic better health is ahead.
“I trained differently in the offseason; a lot smarter, a little more one-on-one stuff. The main reason I went to Driveline and got with Rob was for health,” Wood explained. “That was the No. 1 reason I went there.
“I’ve got a lot of moving parts and if they’re moving together, it’s really good and I can stay healthy. I feel like I’ve been able to accomplish that from a mechanical standpoint. Just kind of cementing that through all the work and all the throwing, having a good idea of what I need to do in between (starts) is really important.
“I’m excited about things paying off but also being able to stay in that window of consistency through a lot of the stuff I did in the offseason.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our live shows, and more!