The significance of LeBron James joining the Lakers span far beyond the world of basketball. The long-term consequences for Los Angeles will become over the four years of his contract. One immediate effect could take shape at Major League Baseball’s All-Star game, in the form of a goatee for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
As James approached free agency last week, Roberts joked that if James signed with the Lakers, Roberts would manage the National League team in the Midsummer Classic with the same facial hair he sported during his 10-year playing career. Roberts was reminded of this before Monday’s series opener against Pittsburgh.
“Did I agree to that?” Roberts said. “So we signed LeBron, and I said I would grow my goatee out. I think I might do it.”
Dodgers officials indicated there were no immediate plans for James to visit Dodger Stadium. The prospect was considered unlikely. The wattage produced by James far exceeds any publicity to be generated by him throwing out the first pitch before a regular-season game.
Roberts said he had not yet reached out to congratulate Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ president who doubles as part-owner of the Dodgers. But he could understand how Johnson sold James on a shared vision for the future of their franchise.
“There’s an aura about him that very few people have,” Roberts said. “The presence, positivity and trust. Obviously, if you’re courting a player like LeBron, those variable and opportunities, that’s a relationship I can see happening.”
Walker Buehler to start for Rancho Cucamonga
Walker Buehler will start Tuesday for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga as he builds up his pitch count after a disastrous relief outing last week. Buehler will likely require two outings in the minors, Roberts said over the weekend.
The Dodgers had hoped Buehler could throw three innings as a reliever last week against the Chicago Cubs. Instead, he logged 35 pitches, recorded three outs and gave up five runs. The team optioned him to the minors Friday.
Tony Cingrani throws bullpen session
Reliever Tony Cingrani (left shoulder discomfort) threw a bullpen session.
“The last few days, he said his arm’s been feeling great,” Roberts said. “So I would anticipate it went well.”