None of the cuts are easy when it gets down to the final weekend of spring training, but a couple had to be particularly tough for the Dodgers on Saturday.
There was really nothing more left-hander Adam Liberatore could have done to make the team. All he did was go unscored upon in 11 appearances. He gave up only four hits in his 10 1/3 innings, not walking a batter and striking out nine.
And then there was utility man Enrique Hernandez, who after starting the spring hitless in his first 13 at-bats, finished going 16 for 47 with six home runs to tie for team high.
“As we were kind of struggling with the decisions and having the debate, we talked about what a good problem it was to have. We feel strongly we sent down some major-league players,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations. “And the sign of a good team is when you have the depth to do that. We’re excited about the 25 guys we’re going to open with on Monday, but we also know that it extends well beyond the 25.”
Which can’t make the decision a whole lot easier for Hernandez and Liberatore.
“They wanted me to play every day,” Hernandez said. “I’ll go down there, play every day and do my thing.”
Hernandez can play second, third, short and center field. At some point, he is confident he will be called up this season.
“I had a pretty good spring,” he said. “They know what I can do. It’s a matter of there wasn’t any room for me right now. I’ll just be patient.”
Hernandez is only 23 and was up briefly last season for both Houston and Miami.
Liberatore, however, is 27, had a sterling triple-A season last year (1.66 ERA, 86 strikeouts in 65 innings, 0.89 WHIP) and has yet to appear in the majors.
He has to be wondering just what he has to do to make a team.
But with two left-handers in the bullpen in J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez, the Dodgers elected to keep right-hander Pedro Baez (spring 5.40 ERA), who has superior stuff if not results.
“At some point during the course of the season, Lib will get his chance,” Friedman said. “We feel from the left side we have a lot of really, really good arms.”