Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez is dealing with a bone bruise on his pitching hand after getting clipped by a ball during a session of live batting practice last week. Baez is still feeling pain when he throws, although X-rays on his hand came back negative, Manager Dave Roberts said.
"We're just trying to take it slow," Roberts said. "Hopefully he'll be back out there soon."
At this early juncture in camp, Roberts has declined to commit to any relievers being locked into roster spots besides closer Kenley Jansen and setup man Sergio Romo. The Dodgers can boast a plentiful assortment of options for the final five spots. Based on his resume, Baez is likely to claim a spot.
Despite his plodding pace on the mound — a confounding attribute for his employers and a maddening one for fans — Baez has been an effective pitcher the past three seasons. His missteps in high-leverage playoff situations have overshadowed his usefulness in the regular season.
Baez ranked second on the team with 73 appearances in 2016. He posted a 3.04 earned-run average with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings and a 3.77 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He turns 29 in March and won't be eligible for arbitration until 2018, rendering him an asset who is both experienced and affordable.
If Baez remains sidelined, though, the Dodgers can fill his role in a variety of ways. Grant Dayton figures to be Roberts' primary left-handed option, with Luis Avilan and Adam Liberatore also under consideration. The list of right-handed relievers includes Josh Fields, Josh Ravin, Chris Hatcher and non-roster invitee Brandon Morrow.
GONZALEZ UNLIKELY TO PLAY BEFORE WBC
To hear first baseman Adrian Gonzalez tell it, the status of his injured right elbow has not changed. He is still waiting for team doctor Neal ElAttrache to inspect the inflammation in the joint. After that, Gonzalez has maintained since arriving at camp, he intends to join Team Mexico for the World Baseball Classic, playing games in Jalisco on March 9.
Gonzalez had expressed his hope to play in Cactus League games before leaving camp. Roberts said that outcome was unlikely, given the compression of the schedule. Gonzalez expects to be examined by ElAttrache as early as this week.
MCCARTHY BOUND FOR CACTUS LEAGUE
After throwing a session of live batting practice on Sunday, Brandon McCarthy is expected to pitch in a Cactus League game later this week. McCarthy had struggled to throw strikes after coming back from Tommy John surgery last season. Roberts said his delayed arrival in games this spring was not connected to his troubles last year.
"He worked really hard this winter, and I think mentally he's in a great place," Roberts said. "There's really no misfires. Right now, he's ready, throwing the ball really well and feeling strong. I think he could go out there right now and throw four innings if he wanted to."