Despite rainy weather throughout the Valley of the Sun on Saturday morning, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants remain scheduled to play their Cactus League opener. However, first pitch at Scottsdale Stadium has been pushed back to 2:15 p.m. PT.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts voiced some concern over the playing conditions, though noted the decision lies with the Giants. Even with Roberts’ worry, the Dodgers’ lineup features multiple regulars, including reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger.
However, he is not joined in the outfield by 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts. The newcomer instead is slated to make his Dodgers debut Sunday against the Chicago Cubs.
Bellinger is also expected to be in the lineup for the home game at Camelback Ranch. “Then on Tuesday one of those guys will DH,” Roberts added.
As for matters on the mound, Alex Wood is due to start regardless of whether or not the Dodgers and Giants play their game. In the event it is rained out, Roberts said Tony Gonsolin would follow Wood out of the bullpen Sunday.
Caleb Ferguson transitioning to relief pitcher
In other pitching news, the Dodgers appear committed to keeping Caleb Ferguson in a role as a relief pitcher. It’s a change of course from last spring, when he was first stretched out as a starter.
“I think Fergie is a reliever. That can be debated, but we seen him as a reliever who can get left and right out,” Roberts said. “His breaking ball, he really has cleaned that up as far as shortening it. The fastball has the life that we like.
“I see him as a multiple-inning guy as a reliever.”
The Dodgers now have three left-handers in Scott Alexander, Ferguson and Adam Kolarek. The excess depth, coupled with the additions of Brusdar Graterol and Blake Treinen, and the rule change that effectively eliminates a lefty specialist, Ferguson is facing a roster crunch.
“We’ve got some tough decisions to make,” Roberts said. “You’re not going to be able to carry all three of them. Time will tell.
“To give that lefty specialist an opportunity to see if he can be sufficient against a right-handed hitter, especially what we think of Adam, I think is very important. It’s going to be tough because there’s no niche role anymore.”
Ferguson went 1-2 with a 4.84 ERA, 5.05 FIP and 1.48 WHIP in 46 games (two starts) last season.
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