Spring Training Preview: Freddie Freeman Makes Dodgers Debut; Walker Buehler Starts Against Reds

The Los Angeles Dodgers head into their fifth game of Spring Training still searching for their first win. L.A. is coming off a loss to the Chicago White Sox and remain at Camelback Ranch as they try to get on track against the Cincinnati Reds.

The big news entering the matchup is Freddie Freeman making his Dodgers debut. Freeman has been participating in workouts over the past few days and now gets his first at-bats with the team.

Meanwhile, Walker Buehler takes the mound in what’s also his first appearance of the spring. Buehler enjoyed an excellent 2021 season that put him firmly in the conversation for the National League Cy Young Award.

The Dodgers are expected to turn to Andrew Heaney and Mitch White at some point after Buehler’s outing.

Heaney, a 30-year-old southpaw who signed with the Dodgers during the offseason, is battling for a spot in the Opening Day rotation. Heaney pitched 129.2 innings with the L.A. Angels and New York Yankees in 2021 and held a 5.83 ERA, but with a much more respectable 4.04 xERA.

White is likely battling for a long relief role in the Dodgers’ bullpen and could very well earn it due to already having a spot on the 40-man roster. The right-hander tossed 46.2 innings across 21 appearances (four starts) and to the tune of a 3.66 ERA for the Dodgers last season.

Buehler is being opposed Reds prospect Vladimir Gutierrez, who pitched 19 innings in the Majors last year and posted a 4.74 ERA with 25 strikeouts. Gutierrez is fighting for a rotation spot in Cincinnati with a plethora of other talented young arms.

With Spring Training now in full swing, both teams are placing on emphasis on getting their top players looks at game speed. The first seven in the Dodgers lineup figure to be everyday regulars in 2022, with Edwin Rios and Zach McKinstry key bench pieces.

Freeman is be batting third in his first game with the Dodgers, but that shouldn’t yet be taken as a lock for the regular season.

Also noteworthy is Chris Taylor playing second base for his first start in the field. Manager Dave Roberts revealed this week that Taylor remains on a throwing program as he continues to recover from offseason surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow.

Dodgers lineup

SS: Trea Turner
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Freddie Freeman
C: Will Smith
LF: AJ Pollock
CF: Cody Bellinger
2B: Chris Taylor
DH: Edwin Rios
RF: Zach McKinstry

Reds lineup

2B: Jonathan India
1B: Joey Votto
3B: Mike Moustakas
C: Tyler Stephenson
SS: Kyle Farmer
DH: Donovan Solano
CF: Nick Senzel
RF: Aristides Aquino
LF: Jake Bauers

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