Ah, spring. The flowers and the crabgrass. Hopes born anew and dashed all over again.
Baseball people like to wax poetic about how spring is a new beginning for every team and every player. Which, of course, is untrue. Players are demoted, released, injured. They lose a starting job or a role or a manager’s fancy.
It’s a tryout for many -- a kid trying to crack the major league lineup or a veteran aiming to reinvent himself. Camp for the Dodgers is filled with hopeful players with uncertain futures, and games are not just about perfecting timing but proving worth.
Several trotted out Sunday for the Dodgers in their 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Camelback Ranch in Arizona, particularly relievers battling for some form of a comeback or reinvention.
Most received encouraging reviews.
Brandon McCarthy is already assured a starting place in the rotation -- you get that with a four-year, $48-million contract -- but was making his first appearance of the spring. He went two innings, giving up a run on two hits in the first before retiring the Brewers in order in the second. A good enough beginning.
Sunday's game, the sixth of the spring, was more important for the pitchers who followed McCarthy.
Veteran Sergio Santos, in camp as a non-roster invitee, threw one perfect inning. He struck out one. Santos is a leading candidate to make the bullpen and, with Kenley Jansen out for about six weeks, someone who could close. He saved 30 games for the White Sox in 2011.
Juan Nicasio followed, giving up one in two innings on two hits. He struck out three. Nicasio was a starter who found second-half success with the Rockies last year as a reliever.
Adam Liberatore, Josh Ravin and Dan Coulombe all added one scoreless inning apiece, before Ryan Buchter gave up a solo home run in the ninth. Otherwise, he struck out the side.
Dodgers outfield prospect Kyle Jensen hit his second home run of the spring, this one a two-run shot in the eighth that briefly gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.