Dodgers spring training updates: ‘Employer’ makes Mookie Betts bulk up

Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts flies out during Game 4 of the National League Division Series.
Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts flies out during Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the San Diego Padres in October.
(Ashley Landis / 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.

Mookie Betts bulks up after offseason visit to Driveline training center

Mookie Betts pumps a fist while running.
Mookie Betts celebrates after hitting a sacrifice fly in Game 3 of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres on Oct. 14.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Mookie Betts’ visit to Driveline this offseason wasn’t his own idea.

“My employer told me I need to go,” Betts said of his winter trip to the renowned baseball training center. “That’s how I ended up going there.”

By the end of it, however, he’d come away with one important takeaway.

“That I just need to gain some strength,” he said. “Continue to play the game I’ve been playing. Just get a little stronger.”

It might seem like simple advice, given Driveline’s track record of using advanced data and sports science to help players make fundamental changes to their game, and Betts’ productive but inconsistent play during the 2022 season.

But for the 30-year-old outfielder, whose importance to the club only grew after its roster changes this offseason, a little added strength and weight could go a long way, epitomizing his goal to perform more consistently entering his 10th big-league campaign.

“We know the highs that Mookie is capable of,” general manager Brandon Gomes said. “He’s potentially a victim of his own greatness at times.”

Indeed, Betts didn’t have a bad 2022 by any stretch. He batted .269 and had the second-highest on-base-plus-slugging percentage on the team. He ranked eighth in the majors with a career-high 35 home runs. He earned a sixth career All-Star selection and finished fifth in National League MVP voting.

“It was a really good season overall,” Gomes said.

Yet, as Betts noted, it also included “a lot of downs” highlighted by inconsistent stretches at the plate.

Over his first 21 games, Betts batted just .232 with three home runs, a slump he acknowledged caused some self-doubt in the early going.

But then, from May 4 to June 4, Betts rediscovered his superstar form, batting .363 with 13 home runs in a blistering 30-game stretch.

The rest of the year, the outfielder played well but below his typical standards, cooling off once again over the season’s final weeks before collecting just two hits in an underwhelming playoff series against the San Diego Padres.

“It wasn’t from lack of effort,” Betts said Thursday, during his first chat with reporters this spring training. “I’m always going to show up ready to play.”

During his visit to Driveline, though, instructors suggested he could do more to keep his body in peak physical shape — most notably, by adding more weight.

“I was just little, man,” he said. “So I had to gain my weight back.”

On Betts’ first day of spring, the results were already showing.

After hovering around 170 pounds for most of last season, he said Thursday he weighed in at 178 on Thursday.

“You just can’t skip the little snacks like I used to,” said Betts, who used to be vegan but said he stopped four or five years ago. “Just got to continue to eat, eat, eat, gain a little weight, gain some strength. Hopefully that helps … We’ll see how it plays out once the season starts.”


Clayton Kershaw faces ‘challenges’ in getting clearance for WBC

PHOENIX — The Dodgers are still expecting Clayton Kershaw to play in next month’s World Baseball Classic for Team USA.

U.S. general manager Tony Reagins, however, acknowledged Thursday that “there are some challenges in getting Clayton cleared” for the international tournament.

Kershaw announced his commitment to play for the U.S. team in the WBC — something he’d never before done in his 15-year career — in December, shortly after re-signing with the Dodgers on a one-year, $20-million deal for the 2023 season.

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Signings of outfielder David Peralta, pitchers Jimmy Nelson and Alex Reyes are official

Then-Tampa Bay Rays outfielder David Peralta watches the flight of the ball as he follows through on a swing
Former Tampa Bay Rays outfielder David Peralta is one of the newest additions to the Dodgers roster.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

The Dodgers made their one-year contracts with outfielder David Peralta and pitchers Jimmy Nelson and Alex Reyes official on Thursday, Peralta signing for $6.5 million, Nelson for $1.2 million and Reyes for $1.1 million.

To clear 40-man roster space for the trio, pitchers Walker Buehler, J.P. Feyereisen and Blake Treinen were transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Peralta, 35, gives the Dodgers a veteran left-handed bat who can platoon with Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson in left field.

He has spent most of his nine-year career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, batting .281 with a .796 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 110 homers and 486 RBIs in 1,008 career games. He hit .251 with a .731 OPS, 12 homers and 59 RBIs in 134 games for Arizona and Tampa Bay in 2022.

Nelson, 33, could bolster the bullpen in a multi-inning relief role if he is healthy. The right-hander has spent the last three seasons with the Dodgers but, because of lower back and elbow injuries, made only 28 appearances, all in 2021, going 1-2 with a 1.86 ERA before undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Reyes, 28, was an All-Star reliever for St. Louis in 2021 before missing all of last season because of a shoulder injury that required surgery in May. The hard-throwing right-hander, who features an upper-90s fastball and sharp slider, will miss the start of the season but is on track to return before the All-Star break.

Reyes, despite struggling with walks, posted a 3.23 ERA, 30 saves and 122 strikeouts in 84 appearances for Cardinals playoff teams in 2020 and 2021. His last big league pitch was a hanging slider that Taylor belted for a walk-off homer to lead the Dodgers past the Cardinals in the National League wild-card game.

Reyes’ deal includes a $3-million club option for 2024 and includes incentives that could push its total value to more than $10 million.


Want to go to Dodgers’ Opening Day or the Yankees series? It will cost you

Dodgers ground crew member Justin Patenaude paints the field in preparation for opening day in April 2021.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers put tickets on sale Thursday for Opening Day, and for the series against the New York Yankees.

If you just want to get into the ballpark and you’re willing to sit in one of the cheap seats — well, depending on how you define cheap, none of the available seats might be considered cheap.

For Opening Day — March 30 against the Arizona Diamondbacks — tickets on sale on the team website Thursday morning ranged from $90 to $402.

For the Yankees series June 2-4, tickets ranged from $72 to $297 for Friday’s 7 p.m. game, $70 to $310 for Saturday’s 4 p.m. game, and $64 to $216 for Sunday’s 4 p.m. game.

If the Yankees are the attraction for you, the Angels have $20 tickets available for all three of their games against the Yankees July 17-19.

Remember, teams reserve the right to adjust ticket prices up or down depending on demand, so the price you see today on the team website may not be the price you see there tomorrow.


Coming off shoulder surgery, Blake Treinen hopes he can pitch for Dodgers in 2023

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Blake Treinen points skyward during the eighth inning
Dodgers relief pitcher Blake Treinen gestures during Game 2 of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres in October.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Blake Treinen is hopeful of pitching for the Dodgers in 2023. But after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery to repair his right labrum and rotator cuff, the reliever doesn’t know his exact timeline for recovery yet.

“I feel like I should be able to come back this year at some point, I think it’s a very real possibility,” Treinen said. “It’d be really kind of a gut punch to me if I wasn’t able to.”

After missing most of the summer last season with a partially torn shoulder capsule, Treinen returned in early September with hopes of aiding the club’s postseason push.

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Miguel Vargas declined chance to play for Cuba in WBC


Dodgers re-sign Jimmy Nelson to major league deal

Dodgers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals in July 2021.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

The Dodgers are bringing back Jimmy Nelson.

The team has agreed to a major league contract with the right-handed pitcher that will pay him a base salary of $1.2 million and includes bonuses that could increase its overall value to around $4 million, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Nelson, 33, spent the last three seasons with the Dodgers, but made only 28 appearances in that time (all in 2021) because of injuries.

Nelson missed all of 2020 because of a back injury, then had season-ending elbow surgery in August of 2021 that kept him out for all of last season too.

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Daniel Hudson battling ankle tendinitis, hoping to be ready for opening day

Dodgers relief pitcher Daniel Hudson applauds.
Daniel Hudson is hoping to be ready for opening day.
(John McCoy / Associated Press)

Daniel Hudson’s left knee is better after an ACL tear ended his season last year.

However, the Dodgers reliever is now dealing with ankle tendinitis that has slowed his recovery process and left his status for opening day in doubt.

“I’m shooting for being ready for opening day,” Hudson said. “But I’m little bit behind than where I would like to be throwing-wise.”

Hudson, 35, was one of the Dodgers’ best relievers last year — he had a 2.22 ERA in 24 1/3 innings — before suffering his season-ending injury in late June.

He signed an extension with the team before the end of the season to return in 2023, and is expected to be a key part of a bullpen that again looks primed to be a strength for the team.

First, though, Hudson will have to get his ankle healthy. He said he is scheduled to throw off a mound for the first time on Friday.

“It’s been a grind, a little more frustrating than I thought it was gonna be,” Hudson said. “I’ve been through a couple long rehabs before [for Tommy John surgeries] but for whatever reason, I guess being 10 years later than I got hurt the last time, it’s been a little bit slower.”

Hudson added: “But at the same time, we’ve progressed pretty well and we’re in a good spot going into today.”


Mike Clevinger asks everyone to wait before judging domestic violence allegations

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (52) works out during a spring training on Wednesday.
White Sox starting pitcher Mike Clevinger works out during a spring training on Wednesday.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

For the second straight year, a team has begun spring training at Camelback Ranch with a starting pitcher under investigation to determine whether he violated Major League Baseball’s sexual assault and domestic violence policy.

A year ago, it was the Dodgers’ Trevor Bauer after a woman accused him of sexual assault.

This time, on the other side of the facility, the Chicago White Sox are facing uncertainty after Mike Clevinger was accused of domestic violence.

Unlike Bauer, however, Clevinger has not been put on paid administrative leave. Instead, Clevinger joined his new team for their first official workout Wednesday, two months after signing with the White Sox.

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Dave Roberts denies Dodgers cheating accusations, says MLB probe found ‘nothing’

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, center, meets with players on the mound during the fourth inning in Game 3.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, center, meets with players on the mound during the fourth inning in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Padres.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Dave Roberts hasn’t yet read “Winning Fixes Everything,” Evan Drellich’s wide-ranging book released this week that detailed the Houston Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal.

But, during a scrum with reporters at Cactus League media day Wednesday, the Dodgers eighth-year manager flatly denied the accusations made in the book by various anonymous sources against his team for their own alleged sign-stealing transgressions.

“I’ve heard a couple little excerpts,” Roberts said. “To be honest, I haven’t thought too much about it. I’m not going to go there with that.”

The Dodgers were accused numerous times by sources in the book of engaging in their own illegal sign-stealing system during both 2017 — when the Astros used their infamous trash can system during their World Series-winning season — and 2018.

One allegation claimed the Dodgers set up cameras in center field of Dodger Stadium during the 2017 World Series that were connected to an iPad in the dugout, giving them the ability to decode catcher’s signs in real time and relay them to their hitters.

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