Since the Los Angeles Dodgers began their streak of consecutive National League West titles in 2013, no roster was deemed more talented than last year’s group. Several players also said the clubhouse culture and camaraderie was the best they have been part of.
While the months ahead will determine if the 2020 team can match or exceed that, there is no denying the roster trumps what’s been seen over the previous seven years. It of course is attributed to the additions of Mookie Betts and David Price via a blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox.
With much of the core still in place from a team that won a franchise-record 106 games, the Dodgers added the 2018 American League MVP and a Cy Young Award winner. Talented as they are, Betts and Price are also said to have already meshed well with their new teammates.
Betts even opened some eyes when he addressed the team with an impassioned speech on the first day the full squad was in camp at Camelback Ranch. The message resonated with Justin Turner, a longtime leader in the Dodgers’ clubhouse.
“Obviously knew a lot about him on paper, the stats, the awards and playing against him a little bit, but didn’t really know him as a person,” Turner said. “To come in, first day, get in front of the team and kind of challenge everybody, I think kind of surprised a lot of guys.
“I think we love that we have that in our clubhouse. He’s a guy that has the résumé, has the accolades, the pedigree, that when he speaks, guys are going to listen. Guys are going to be curious, guys are going to learn a little bit more.
“It makes it easier when you say stuff like that but you hold yourself to the same accountability. It makes it easier to stand up and preach to a team when you practice and play the way that you talk about. It was good.”
Betts’ stern message has drawn comparisons to Kirk Gibson’s fiery speech in his first season with the Dodgers in 1988. They of course went on to win the World Series that year, which still resides as the franchise’s last title.
“A little bit different,” Turner said of the speeches delivered by Betts and Gibson. “Gibby came onto a team that was a losing team the previous year. Mookie is coming to a team that had our best year in franchise history. But what we haven’t done is win a championship, so for him to challenge guys to take their work a little more serious, his word was ‘urgency,’ it was special.
“I think it’s already resonated with every guy in camp. You go on the backfields and watch the drills we do, it’s been a really good camp so far, and I think that has a lot to do with it.”
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