With pitchers and catchers reporting Thursday to
How the Dodgers are reacting to the setback offers insight to the thinking of the team's new front office, headed by former
The hope is that by temporarily replacing Jansen with an in-house candidate, the Dodgers can prevent problems from surfacing in other parts of the bullpen.
The roster was constructed like this, so that the team would have a foundation sturdy enough to withstand the loss of a player here or there. Newcomers Kike Hernandez and
Depth and flexibility comes at a cost, which is why the Dodgers payroll is already in the range of $260 million, more than it was last year. The makeover, which included an emphasis on defense, also required them to part ways with a couple of popular players,
"Everybody needs to know their role," Gonzalez said. "That's when teams function. If you look at the Giants, their relievers knew when they were going to come in. The bench players knew their roles.
"You need a team that has that functionality. When you just have a bunch of guys that have great talent, everyone wants to play at the same time. Then you have somebody that might be mad and when you put them in, they might not be suited for that situation. Even though we had a great team on paper [last year], I don't think it functioned the way a team should function."
How the Dodgers take shape in the wake of this makeover will be one of several story lines to follow during spring training. Here are some others:
The Dodgers' plan of collecting relievers with All-Star resumes ended in failure last season.
Considering the bullpen can't get much worse than it was last season — the group's 3.80 earned-run average ranked 22nd in the majors — the strategy should result in an improvement.
One problem: There's no obvious replacement for Jansen.
Hatcher, a 30-year-old right-hander acquired in a deal with the Miami Marlins, is one option. He has never saved a game in the majors, but his fastball touches 98 mph and, like Jansen, he is a converted catcher. Stuff-wise, second-year right-hander Pedro Baez also fits the profile of a closer.
Two nonroster players in camp have extensive closing experience:
Line 'em up
Manager Don Mattingly will have to designate a new leadoff hitter, as well as find a couple of bats to protect Gonzalez, the team's middle-of-the-order staple.
Former Philadelphia Phillies shortstop
A less likely possibility is
The way the Dodgers align themselves in the outfield will depend on whether rookie Joc Pederson can break into the lineup. Of the players viewed as everyday options, Pederson is the only natural center fielder, making him management's preferred choice to start there.
If Pederson wins the position, Puig would play in right and Crawford in left; Van Slyke and Heisey would be the right-handed-hitting parts of platoons in center and left.
Under this scenario,
But if Pederson falters, Ethier would be needed, most likely in right. Puig would return to center, where he played 52 games last season.
Front and back
With Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the top of the pitching rotation is one of the best in baseball. The back is a question mark.
The Dodgers are optimistic the two pitchers can remain healthy. McCarthy posted his 200-inning season last year after making changes to his workout program. Anderson hasn't had any arm problems since he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011.
Beyond McCarthy and Anderson, the options include former