The Los Angeles Dodgers relied on their bullpen last season perhaps more than any other club, which has factored into their plans this spring. At the outset of camp, manager Dave Roberts made it clear that several players would be eased into Cactus League play.
The most prominent case was with Kenley Jansen, who did not appear in a Major League game until Thursday, when he threw a scoreless inning against the Kansas City Royals. Jansen was scheduled to pitch one week ago, but had that delayed due to hamstring tightness.
Like Jansen, Josh Fields also faced the Royals in his first Cactus League appearance, and worked a 1-2-3 fourth inning. Up to that point he’d been limited to work in bullpen sessions and on the backfields at Camelback Ranch.
The crafted plan that’s intended to keep Fields, Jansen and others fresh for the long haul of the regular season is one that Fields is fully on board with, per goKen Gurnick of MLB.com:
“The slow-play is definitely helping us be ready,” said Fields. “Without that month we miss [October], the body needs time to recover. Playoff runs take their toll. I think it’s really smart what they’re doing with us. Knowing that even though we have to be ready at a certain time, but being able to take our time doing it, helps relax the mind while doing it.
“I think it’s pretty slick. They aren’t worried about us. You want to be ready for April, but April is not as big of a deal as October. That’s what they’re thinking about, and that’s a cool thing separating us from other organizations.”
Although the Dodgers may have intended to limit Fields’ work this spring anyway, it was in some part dictated by arm discomfort he suffered from early in camp.
Fields appeared in 57 games and logged as many innings pitched last season. The former was good for fourth-most on the team, and Fields’ 57 innings was fourth highest among relief pitchers.
He figures to be a candidate for the eighth-inning role this season that has been vacated by Brandon Morrow since his signing with the Chicago Cubs.