While Clayton Kershaw, Ross Stripling and Alex Wood each reported to Summer Camp with a substantial innings base to build on, Walker Buehler was a step behind his fellow starters.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained that was due to Buehler making a decision to stop throwing during the MLB shutdown, which pitching coach Mark Prior was aware of and on board with.
“Just uncertainty in the schedule and I took off playing catch for a week, so not that big of a deal,” Buehler said Tuesday. “Just trying to build up again. It’s just when you’re going through a pandemic and don’t know what you’re going to have on the other side of it, I decided to take a week off.
“And it wasn’t like I went rogue, we had some conversations and I got back on a throwing program and things like that so I feel good and ready to go.”
Buehler was slowly brought along throughout the month and didn’t appear in an intrasquad game until last week. Outside of bullpen sessions and simulated game settings, it wound up being his only appearance of exhibition play.
“I feel good. Got a chance to face hitters and felt good about that the other day,” Buehler said. “We’re good, it’s a building process and I think everyone goes through it. I just happen to be an inning or two behind, so hopefully Game 1 we’ll be ready to go and make a good start.”
Buehler didn’t want to set a specific target for innings pitched when he takes the mound Tuesday against the Houston Astros. “I want to go out and win baseball games and contribute,” he said. “Whether that’s four innings or whether it’s nine, that doesn’t matter to me. I just want us to win.”
Summer Camp period not a concern
Much has been made about the length of Summer Camp and relatively short time it afford starting pitchers to stretch out like they would during Spring Training. There also is the factor of new health and safety protocols brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
None of those factors were of much concern to Buehler, however, in large part to how several Dodgers players approached matters. “Most of our guys came here really ready to go and far ahead of where they would normally come into a Spring Training,” he said.
“So I think the ramp time, you just have to calculate it differently and look at it differently than you ever have. Guys were throwing three or four innings when they got here, which is not the case in Spring Training. So officially your ramp time or your time in camp is a little bit different.
“I just don’t see it that way and I think for me, it’s not that big of a change, even the ramp-up that I had currently, you can go back to last year or the year before, I haven’t thrown a lot of games in the Cactus League.”
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