With Tony Gonsolin nursing ankle sprain, Michael Grove shows promise

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Tony Gonsolin remained sidelined at Dodgers camp with a sprained ankle. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
(Colin E. Braley / Associated Press)

Follow along for the latest news and analysis from Dodgers spring training at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix ahead of the 2023 MLB season.

Michael Grove impresses again in potential audition for big league roster

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Michael Grove warms up prior.
Michael Grove could be in contention for a Dodgers rotation spot. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

He’s not the Dodgers most highly-ranked prospect, and he’s likely not in line to make the team’s opening day roster.

But the in wake of Tony Gonsolin’s sprained ankle, which is threatening to impact his availability for the start of the season, a door may be cracked open for rookie right-hander Michael Grove this spring.

And on Wednesday night, he continued to put forth a strong audition.

In the Dodgers 2-2 tie against the Seattle Mariners, Grove spun three scoreless innings, striking out two batters while yielded just one hit.

“So far, so good thing spring,” said Grove, who now has a 1.50 ERA in three Cactus League starts. “Body feels great, stuff is coming out well, and getting a chance to work on a few things in games.”

After making six spot starts in the Dodgers rotation last season — he had a 4.60 ERA in seven total big league outings — a big focus for Grove this winter was adding more velocity and deception to his arsenal.

Grove’s fastball, which averaged 94.4 mph last year, has routinely touched 96 mph. he said he also retooled his slider and curveball, adding more spin and depth to those pitches in hopes of better finishing at-bats.

“I think it’s a tick better,” manager Dave Roberts. “But the thing for me, the command of everything is what’s better. And that’s what separates a minor-league pitcher from a major-league pitcher.

If an early-season rotation spot does indeed open in Gonsolin’s potential absence, Grove will have other competition — namely, Ryan Pepiot, who is also having a strong spring, as well as Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller.

So far in camp, though, Grove has shown the ability to contribute in the big leagues again this year. Whether it comes at the start of the campaign or later in the schedule remains to be seen.

“Obviously there’s a reason people talk about depth, to try to prepare for things that are unforeseen,” Roberts said. “But yeah, to have Michael and Ryan ready and having got their feet wet last year, certainly gives you a little bit more peace of mind.”

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His pinkie finally healed, Miguel Vargas begins swinging again

After finally being cleared to swing against live pitching again on Wednesday, Miguel Vargas didn’t wait long to take his first hack.

In a live batting practice session against Yency Almonte, Vargas swung at the first pitch he saw, fouling it off before ultimately striking out later in the at-bat.

Going down swinging, however, beats the numerous called third strikes Vargas had to take previously in camp, when he was barred from swinging in games while allowing a hairline fracture in his pinkie to heal.

“I know he’s gotten through the sort of embarrassment to not swing the bat,” manager Dave Roberts said. “So now I think he’s going to be a regular player from here on out.”

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Tony Gonsolin’s ankle remains swollen, but fractures ruled out

Ahead of Wednesday night’s exhibition game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had several notable injury updates:

  • Tony Gonsolin’s sprained ankle is still swollen. He had a clean X-ray that ruled out any fractures, but still won’t throw for at least several more days. An MRI exam could also be needed at some point if Gonsolin doesn’t progress. His opening day status is to be determined.

    “It’s not something we feel really good about right now,” Roberts said of Gonsolin’s injury. “Right now we’re just trying to do a full court press and getting the ankle back to full strength where he can bear weight.”

  • Daniel Hudson and Yency Almonte are facing hitters in live BP today as they continue to ramp up in hopes of being ready for opening day.

    Hudson hasn’t previously faced hitters this spring while battling ankle tendinitis. Roberts has left the right-hander’s status for the start of the season as TBD, but said that the reliever has been taking positive steps in his recovery this week.

    Almonte seems much likelier to be ready for the regular season opener. Roberts said the team had slow-played his build up this spring after he finished last season battling an elbow injury, but sees “no reason why he wouldn’t be able to start the season with us.”

  • Gavin Lux’s surgery “went well,” Roberts said. In addition to the torn ACL, Lux also had a torn LCL that had to be repaired. Roberts didn’t know Lux’s exact recovery timeline yet.
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Chris Taylor takes a swing at finding his groove again

Dodgers' Chris Taylor walks back to the dugout after striking against the San Diego Padres on Oct. 14, 2022.
Dodgers’ Chris Taylor walks back to the dugout after striking out in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres on Oct. 14, 2022.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

PHOENIX — There’s a note-taking app on Chris Taylor’s phone that the Dodgers outfielder opens all the time, a simple yet useful system he long ago developed to track his ever-evolving swing.

Within it, the 10th-year veteran has kept a catalog of hitting tips, from mental cues and mechanical feels, to coaching advice and personal observations.

Many of them go back years, originating from the career-altering swing changes Taylor made during his emergence with the Dodgers in 2017.

Ever since, he hasn’t been afraid to edit the list, routinely jotting new thoughts and crossing out old ones — especially during times like these, as he sets out to rectify his dismal 2022 performance this spring.

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Tony Gonsolin suffers sprained ankle, but is expected to be OK for start of season

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin warms up during the first inning.
Tony Gonsolin suffered a sprained ankle on Monday at Dodgers camp. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin suffered a sprained left ankle on Monday that will force him to miss his next spring training start on Wednesday, the Dodgers announced.

The team described his status as “day to day,” but didn’t provide any further timeline.

Manager Dave Roberts said the team “feels good” about Gonsolin’s status for the start of the season, but it will depend on how the pitcher progresses in the next couple days.

“I think where he’s built up to, I don’t think that’s a concern right now,” Roberts said.

Gonsolin got hurt during pitcher fielding practice on Monday morning on the backfields at Camelback Ranch, when he appeared to roll an ankle while walking off the infield at the end of a drill.

“It was just some random, freak thing,” Roberts said. “It wasn’t even in the act of fielding a ground ball.”

The 28-year-old right-hander looked to be in immediate pain, bending down before gingerly walking back to the dugout. He was evaluated by a trainer on the field before returning to the clubhouse.

Hours later, Gonsolin left the team’s facility for the day with a noticeable limp and his left ankle wrapped up.

Roberts said Gonsolin isn’t scheduled for any medical imagining on his ankle for now, but that could change if the ankle doesn’t improve in the next couple days.

The manager also said it’s unlikely Gonsolin — who was a first time All-Star last season but struggled with a forearm injury late in the campaign — will throw in the next couple days.

Michael Grove will start in Gonsolin’s place on Wednesday.

Entering Monday, the Dodgers pitching staff had been largely healthy so far this spring, with only Daniel Hudson (ankle tendinitis related to his recovery from a torn ACL last year) appearing to be a question mark for opening day.

If Gonsolin’s injury does ultimately impact his available for the start of the season, it would potentially open a spot for one of the club’s young pitchers — a group headlined by Ryan Pepiot, Gavin Stone, Bobby Miller and Grove — to vie for a rotation spot in his absence.

In other injury news Monday, left-handed reliever Justin Bruihl exited his ninth-inning outing in the Dodgers spring training game early with what Roberts called back spasms/tightness.

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Noah Syndergaard touches 94 mph in second start of spring; Dustin May also impresses

Noah Syndergaard made his second start of the spring on Monday, retiring all nine batters he faced in three scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres.

Syndergaard’s fastball velocity — a point of interest this spring after he stated a goal this winter of getting back around 100 mph in his second season removed from Tommy John surgery — topped out at 94 mph, which was a tick up from his high in his spring debut last week.

The rest of his arsenal looked sharp, helping strike out two batters in an outing the right-hander said was a step forward from his first one.

“The velocity still isn’t there, but the conviction on my pitches is,” Syndergaard said. “I’m definitely trending in the right direction.”

After Syndergaard left the mound, Dustin May took over and also threw three scoreless innings. May retired the first seven batters he faced, carrying the Dodgers’ combined perfect game into the sixth inning, before giving up an infield single. He walked a batter while striking out three.

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Fernando Tatis Jr. booed by Dodgers fans in first meeting since PED suspension

In his first game against the Dodgers since being suspended for performance enhancing drugs last season, Fernando Tatis Jr. did not get a warm reception from Dodgers fans at Camelback Ranch on Monday afternoon.

When the Padres star was announced before his first at-bat, it was immediately met with a chorus of boos. One particularly audible fan repeatedly yelled “Cheater! Cheater!” as he dug in.

Tatis’ at-bat didn’t go according to plan either. Before the first pitch from Dodgers right-hander Noah Syndergaard, Tatis was assessed an automatic strike for not being ready to hit with eight seconds left on the pitch clock.

On Syndergaard’s first actual delivery, Tatis popped out in the infield.

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Former Dodger Justin Turner taken to hospital after being hit in face with pitch

Boston Red Sox third baseman Justin Turner rolls on the ground after being hit in the face on a pitch.
Boston Red Sox third baseman Justin Turner rolls on the ground after being hit in the face on a pitch against the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Former Dodgers star Justin Turner was hit in the face by a pitch Monday while playing in a spring training game for his new team, the Boston Red Sox.

Video footage shows Turner bleeding from his face onto home plate. Turner walked off the field under his own power but was helped by a member of the Red Sox training staff, who held a towel over the veteran player’s face.

Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports Turner was taken by ambulance to a hospital. No other details are available at this time.

Turner was facing Detroit Tigers pitcher Matt Manning with two runners on, no outs and a 2-1 count when the incident occurred in the bottom of the first inning.

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Dodgers’ Miguel Vargas finding ways to nurture his talent amid swingless spring

Miguel Vargas throws during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Dodgers don’t want Miguel Vargas to take swings during games because of a broken pinkie. He’s still found a benefit to the strategy.
(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

In all his baseball life, Miguel Vargas had never done anything like this.

In every one of his Cactus League at-bats so far this spring, the Dodgers rookie second baseman has walked to the plate, taken his upright stance, and swiveled his bat while waiting for a pitch.

At no point, however, has Vargas taken a swing, not in any games at least.

“It’s so weird,” the 23-year-old said with a self-deprecating laugh this past weekend. “I feel so uncomfortable at the plate.”

There’s a reason behind the apparent springtime madness. During the first week of camp, Vargas suffered a hairline fracture in his right pinkie while taking a grounder.

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Dodgers field strong lineup in last game before WBC departures

PHOENIX — For the first time this spring, the Dodgers are fielding a lineup Monday that they could trot out during the regular season.

In their last game before their World Baseball Classic participants depart for next week’s event, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith will all play in the Dodgers’ game against the San Diego Padres at Camelback Ranch.

First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.

Here is their full lineup:

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Clayton Kershaw makes first spring outing in B game against White Sox

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws during a spring training workout session.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Once he knew he wouldn’t be able to play in the World Baseball Classic, Clayton Kershaw was able to dial back his preparation for the regular season.

That’s why the left-hander’s first game action of camp came in a B-game on the backfield of Camelback Ranch on Sunday morning, when he pitched three innings against a Chicago White Sox team of mostly minor-leaguers.

Kershaw gave up one run on four hits in his outing while striking out four. He said it wasn’t his sharpest performance, and that he struggled to find consistency with his slider in particular, but was happy that he came out of his spring debut feeling healthy.

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Julio Urías, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman impress in Dodgers win ahead of WBC

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urias throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds.
Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías delivers against the Cincinnati Reds on Feb. 28.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — The three biggest Dodgers stars who will be playing in this month’s World Baseball Classic all impressed in the team’s 8-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

Julio Urías pitched four scoreless innings in what was his final tune-up before joining Team Mexico next week.

Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman each hit home runs just days before they will report to Team USA and Team Canada practices, respectively.

While Freeman and Betts — who played second base Sunday, a position he’ll likely see more time at this season in the wake of Gavin Lux’s injury — have had relatively normal spring routines, albeit with a few extra at-bats, Urías has had to ramp up quickest compared to a normal spring.

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