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Dodgers make few moves but will try to rebuild advantage over NL West rivals

Dodgers make few moves but will try to rebuild advantage over NL West rivals
New Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts, left, with President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman during an introductory news conference at Dodger Stadium. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers' top executives slipped out of the Opryland Hotel on Thursday morning without saying a word about what they did this week at baseball's winter meetings.

In their defense, there was little to talk about.

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Andrew Friedman, the president of baseball operations, had already spoken the previous night about their failed attempt to retain Zack Greinke and explained why they re-signed Chase Utley to a one-year, $7-million contract. They still couldn't address the addition of Hisashi Iwakuma, whose three-year, $45-million contract was not yet final.

The other moves they made were minor.

They made two waiver-wire acquisitions, claiming right-hander Danny Reynolds from the Angels and outfielder Daniel Fields from the Milwaukee Brewers.

They also picked up five players in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which cost them a combined $60,000. Among the selections was 27-year-old right-hander Logan Bawcom, whom the Dodgers drafted but traded to the Seattle Mariners three years ago as part of a two-player package for Brandon League.

Exciting stuff, huh?

But as Friedman pointed out Wednesday night, more than four months remain until opening day.

Until then, Friedman will try to rebuild the advantage the Dodgers had last year over their division rivals. The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants look as if they have made up ground, with the Diamondbacks adding Greinke and Shelby Miller and the Giants picking up Jeff Samardzija.

In the meantime, here are some minor story lines that emerged this week:

Yasiel Puig is tentatively scheduled to travel next week to his homeland of Cuba as part of goodwill trip organized by Major League Baseball. Clayton Kershaw is also scheduled to go.

"That's encouraging for me," Manager Dave Roberts said.

The players were linked in controversy this off-season when outfielder Scott Van Slyke's father implied on a St. Louis radio station that Kershaw told Dodgers management that Puig should be traded.

Asked whether Kershaw and Puig would be roommates, Roberts joked, "Fortunately, the game where it's at right now, I don't think that they have to be roommates. The state of baseball's in good shape, so they won't be sharing a room together."

Utley a hit?

Friedman thinks Utley can still be a contributor on offense despite his stats.

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"Just feel like he's a really good hitter who works a very professional at-bat," Friedman said.

Utley, who turns 37 next week, batted a career-low .212 this year. But he played with an injured ankle for most of the season and Friedman pointed to how his performance improved after returning to the Philadelphia Phillies from the disabled list in August. As for why Utley batted only .202 after his trade to the Dodgers later that month, Friedman attributed it to misfortune.

"I've never really put numbers on the expectations or what I feel I can do," Utley said.

He added, "Obviously, staying healthy is important to me."

Utley said he has started an off-season training program to help him do that.

Utley's suspension

Speaking of Utley, he is still facing a two-game suspension resulting from his takeout slide of New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in a National League division series. Utley appealed the suspension, which allowed him to play for the remainder of the series, but said he doesn't know when his case will be heard.

Utley defended his slide, saying, "I thought I made a hard, aggressive slide to break up a double play in the playoff game."

He otherwise declined to speak of the play, until after his hearing.

Of the rude welcome he received from Mets fans at Citi Field, Utley said, "Playing in Philadelphia for so many years, we've always had a big rivalry against the Mets. Whether it was me or Jimmy [Rollins] or Ryan Howard, they weren't too nice to us back then. In that aspect, it wasn't too different."

Mattingly the Marlin

Former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly looked as if he was settling in as the new manager of the Miami Marlins.

"I've been fortunate," Mattingly said. "I went from New York City to L.A. and now South Beach. Next stop is Cuba, I guess. I'm going warmer. I'm not going colder."

Mattingly's staff will include bench coach Tim Wallach and hitting coach Barry Bonds. Wallach was Mattingly's bench coach with the Dodgers. Bonds will be a rookie coach.

Wallach was interviewed for the Dodges' managerial position that Roberts landed.

"He's going to be a big league manager some day and you want that for him," Mattingly said. "But once that didn't happen, him coming is a key component, I think, because he knows me."

Mattingly said he never questioned Bonds' knowledge of hitting or Bonds' ability to teach it. Before hiring baseball's all-time home run leader, however, Mattingly said he wanted to be certain Bonds understood the time commitment.

"That was part of the interview, making sure he knew how much time it was," Mattingly said. "You're in the ballpark at noon, not showing up at 5 o'clock for a 7 o'clock game. Coaches are there longer than when you played, and you're preparing, and you're getting guys ready.

"Barry understood completely. He's been around the game. So I don't think we surprised him with anything. I just wanted to make sure he was prepared for that time."

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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