Clayton Kershaw makes first spring outing in B game against White Sox
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.
“Overall, for a B game [that started] at 10:15, I’ll take it,” Kershaw said.
Kershaw’s next outing will likely come in a Cactus League game, which would mark Kershaw’s first time taking the mound with MLB’s new pitch clock.
“I need to get out there and do it,” Kershaw said. “I think my times are within the pitch clock realm. But obviously, I need to get out there and test it out and make sure that everything’s good there.”
Julio Urías, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman impress in Dodgers win ahead of WBC
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.
On Sunday, he threw 49 pitches, far ahead of where most starters would be during the first week of March.
However, both he and the team are hoping it will help the 26-year-old make a seamless transition into the regular season, when he’ll be expected to help anchor the Dodgers starting rotation after his Cy Young caliber 2022 performance.
“He’s in a great spot physically, and I don’t think there will be a down tick when he gets back with our club,” Roberts said. “He’ll be ready to start the season, and he’s really focused on following up one great year with another one.”
The friendly rivalries between the trio have already begun, too.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Freeman walked around the Dodgers clubhouse in a bright red Canada track suit, leaving a Canadian hat in Urías’ locker for the Mexican pitcher to find.
“That’s the beauty of this tournament,” Urías said through an interpreter. “Getting to play against your teammates is gonna be really exciting.”
Jason Heyward, James Outman hit home runs – and build roster case – in Dodgers win
SURPRISE, Ariz. — With Gavin Lux out for the season, the Dodgers will need some left-handed hitters to step up in his place.
Saturday night, a couple of possible candidates flashed their potential to do so.
Jason Heyward and James Outman both hit homers in the Dodgers’ 7-6 win over the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium, injecting some hope into Dodgers camp about their platoon options for the upcoming season.
Heyward’s blast, a fifth-inning drive to the right-field pavilion, was his second hit of the night and second long ball of the spring. In four Cactus League games so far, the veteran outfielder is four for 10 with one walk and no strikeouts.
“The swing is completely different,” Roberts said of Heyward, who revamped his mechanics this offseason after signing a minor league deal with the Dodgers. “Just a lot more simple. A lot more clean.”
While Heyward seems like a lock to make the opening day roster, Outman is one of several players battling for the club’s last position player roster spot.
His home run Saturday, a deep drive that almost cleared the right-field bullpen, not only bolstered his case but garnered praise from Roberts.
“James last year came out and had a great year and had some at-bats with us, played well,” Roberts said. “And he’s picked up where he left off. He controls the strike zone really well. Physical player. And he doesn’t miss too many fastballs.”
Ryan Pepiot’s stock stays on the rise with another sharp spring outing
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Ryan Pepiot probably won’t make the Dodgers opening day roster.
But the rookie right-hander who navigated a turbulent, though still mostly effective, debut season last year seems to be putting himself at the top of the Dodgers’ starting pitching minor league depth chart.
After a sharp scoreless inning against the San Diego Padres in his spring debut last week, Pepiot limited damage in a two-inning, one-run outing against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday at Surprise Stadium.
“He made a point to clean up his delivery this winter,” manager Dave Roberts said of Pepiot, who in nine big league games last year had a 3.47 ERA but also walked 6.7 batters per nine innings. “For him to show some fruits early on, I think it’s only gonna build confidence for him.”
Indeed, the 25-year-old was once again focused Saturday on rectifying his issues in the majors last season, when he struggled to find the strike zone or avoid misses to the arm side of the plate.
Pepiot’s start Saturday began more dangerously than last week’s. In the bottom of the first, he gave up a leadoff double, then a pair of singles that scored the game’s first run.
Pepiot, however, escaped the opening-inning jam with a strikeout of Michael Massey, then returned to the mound for a 1-2-3 second inning that included a couple more punchouts.
“Threw a lot of strikes, battled through some counts and then walked away with just the one run,” Pepiot said. “I’d rather get hit around the ballpark than walk a bunch of guys and give up a three-run homer. So I can be happy with that.”
Compared to last season, Pepiot has worked on cleaning up some of his mechanics and, even more notably, changing the shape of his slider.
After tinkering with more of a side-to-side sweeper last spring, Pepiot has gone to more of a traditional shape pitch he feels better complements his trademark changeup.
“I feel really comfortable throwing it early in the count for a strike or trying to get some swing-and-miss later, or some weak contact,” Pepiot said. “I don’t need something going super far to the left because I have the changeup going to the right. It’s more than the little spin ball I had last year.”
So far, the results have been promising, putting Pepiot in prime position for another big-league call-up whenever the Dodgers need reinforcements for their rotation.
Miguel Vargas (pinkie) likely won’t swing in a game again until Wednesday
PHOENIX — Miguel Vargas is in the Dodgers lineup today for their spring-training game against the Kansas City Royals.
However, the rookie infielder still won’t be allowed to swing as he nurses a hairline fracture in his pinkie.
Manager Dave Roberts said the team is targeting Wednesday as the first day Vargas will swing in a game again. In the meantime, Vargas has been increasing his workload in batting cage drills and going through batting practice on the backfields of Camelback Ranch.
In his four games this spring, he’s still been able to get on base, as well, with his four drawn walks in four games played becoming a comical story line early in camp.
“I feel so uncomfortable at the plate, but it’s part of what I have to do,” Vargas said with a laugh on Friday.
Asked whether he thought other teams were aware of his situation, Vargas said they must not be.
“If they knew, they’d probably use three pitches,” he joked, adding: “At least I have excuses now when I strike out.”
Ryan Pepiot makes second spring start as Dodgers face Royals, Zack Greinke
PHOENIX — Ryan Pepiot will make his second start of the spring Saturday night when the Dodgers travel to Surprise Stadium to face the Kansas City Royals.
The team will see another familiar face on the mound, with former Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke set to make his second outing of the spring with the Royals, the team he re-signed with this offseason.
Facing Greinke will be several Dodgers regulars, including Jason Heyward in center field, Trayce Thompson in left and Will Smith behind the plate. The team’s new middle infield duo of Miguel Rojas and Miguel Vargas will also get more time together at shortstop and second base, though Vargas (pinky fracture) still hasn’t been cleared to swing in game action.
Here is the Dodgers full lineup:
In pursuit of unfinished business, Tony Gonsolin looks sharp in spring debut
TEMPE, Ariz. — Last season was the best year of Tony Gonsolin’s career.
It also ended with one of his most frustrating episodes as a major leaguer.
After cruising through the summer and earning his first All-Star selection, an elbow injury derailed Gonsolin’s ability to contribute down the stretch run and in the playoffs.
Despite a 2.14 ERA and dazzling 16-1 record, it was an ineffective 1 1/3 inning outing in the NLDS that bothered him most heading into the offseason.
“It sucked,” Gonsolin said.
Added manager Dave Roberts: “He didn’t get to finish what he started last year.”
On Friday, Gonsolin took his first step back toward that unfinished business, pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 2-2 tie against the Angels.
It what was Gonsolin’s first Cactus League outing of the spring, Roberts said he was pleased with the right-hander’s breaking ball and splitter. He was also happy the 28-year-old was already built up to more than 40 pitches.
Gonsolin said he hoped it was the start to a more complete season.
After throwing a career-high 130 innings last year, he feels more prepared for the grind of a full season.
“I had a better understanding of what I was preparing for,” Gonsolin said. “Just kind of figuring out the routine, the day-to-day routine and being able to build my body up in a way to withstand the innings load.”
And his goal for this season?
“Go wall to wall, from start to finish,” he said. “Leave the results out of it. Whatever they are, they are. Just go out there and try to do my best.”
Angels manager Phil Nevin and son his Kyle, a Dodgers minor-leaguer, exchange lineup card
TEMPE, Ariz. — Today’s lineup card exchange before the Dodgers-Angels game at Tempe Diablo Stadium featured a familial reunion.
Angels manager Phil Nevin was greeted at the home plate meeting before the game by his son Kyle, a minor-leaguer in the Dodgers organization who the team selected in the 11th round last year.
‘His shoe game is pretty tight.’ Why Dodgers hope Miguel Rojas’ play matches his ‘swag’
PHOENIX — Of all the things the Dodgers have come to appreciate about Miguel Rojas this spring, two of the biggest have to do with his feet.
There is Rojas’ nimble footwork in the infield, a natural agility that’s made the 34-year-old one of the best defensive shortstops in the major leagues.
Then there’s his obsession with custom sneakers and cleats, a vibrant collection of colorful footwear that epitomizes the confident swagger with which he plays.
“His shoe game,” manager Dave Roberts said jokingly this week, “is pretty tight.”
Mookie Betts to play second base Friday in latest infield shuffle for Dodgers
PHOENIX — The Dodgers infield shuffle in the wake of Gavin Lux’s season-ending injury will continue on Friday, when Mookie Betts will start at second base in a game for the first time this spring.
Moonlighting at second is nothing new for Betts, a six-time Gold Glove at his primary position in right field. The 30-year-old grew up playing the middle infield, and has appeared at second base occassionally for the Dodgers since being traded to the team in 2020.
This season, however, rotating to the infield might be a bigger part of Betts’ role. Without Lux, Miguel Rojas is likely to take over as the primary shortstop, leaving little infield depth on the roster behind him.
As a result, Chris Taylor will likely back up at shortstop in addition to his outfield duties, while Betts will do the same at second base.
Don’t expect the former MVP — who is also expected to see some time at second with Team USA in this month’s World Baseball Classic — to be too upset about it, though. Second base isn’t only his original position; it remains one of his favorite to play as well.
Here’s how the rest of the Dodgers will line up on Friday, when they head to Tempe to face the Angels at 12:10 p.m. Pacific.
Is Major League Baseball really dying? Survey says no
You might have heard this before: Baseball is dying.
It’s not. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani might be the world’s most intriguing athlete. Baseball games offer top-rated prime-time programming in just about every city in the major leagues. The intensity of this month’s World Baseball Classic, and the introduction of new rules designed to showcase athleticism and pick up the pace, should stir even more interest. And a dying industry does not generate record revenues, as Major League Baseball did last year.
Over the last few weeks, you might have heard “baseball is dying” cries from an unlikely source: the owners of several major league teams, who have called MLB “an industry in crisis” in which “the vast majority of players, agents and clubs dislike baseball’s economic system.” One owner suggested his team had not spent on free agents last winter because his up-and-coming team had “overperformed” last summer.
Hey, fans, get your tickets now!
Another Trevor Bauer defamation suit is thrown out
Former Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer failed in another of his defamation cases Wednesday, when a New York judge dismissed a lawsuit he had filed against the website Deadspin and its managing editor.
Of the six defamation cases Bauer has filed, three have been dismissed. Only one has survived a challenge to dismiss, and lawyers for that defendant — baseball writer Molly Knight — have asked an appellate court to intervene.
In 2021, Bauer was accused of sexual assault by a San Diego woman, but her request for a restraining order was denied, and Bauer was not charged with a crime.
Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda honored with signs on 5 Freeway in Orange County
The stretch of the 5 Freeway where Tommy Lasorda started his trips to Dodger Stadium and exited after games now bears his name.
Twenty-seven miles southeast of what Lasorda called “Blue Heaven on Earth” is the “Tommy Lasorda Dodger Legend Memorial Highway.”
The pair of green highway signs are already up on the 5 Freeway in Fullerton, near the former Dodgers manager’s longtime home. The signs are on the northbound and southbound lanes between Lincoln Avenue and Ball Road.
On Saturday, the late Lasorda will be recognized during a ceremony featuring his daughter, Laura, former Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros, the 1992 National League Rookie of the Year under Lasorda, and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silver (D-Fullerton). The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. and is part of the West Fullerton Little League opening day festivities at James Carter Field at 1015 West Hill Ave. in Fullerton.
Daniel Hudson uncertain for opening day; Walker Buehler begins throwing progression
Dodgers reliever Daniel Hudson is progressing from an ankle tendinitis injury, but might not be ready for opening day, manager Dave Roberts said Thursday.
“Is he going to be an impact reliever for us? Yes,” Roberts said. “But is it opening day? I don’t know about that yet. I do believe that it’ll be early on in the season, but I don’t believe opening day is a hard date for us right now.”
Hudson started battling his ankle injury near the end of his offseason recovery from a torn ACL, and has been limited so far in his activities this spring.
He has been able to throw full intensity bullpens, but still needs time before resuming fielding and defensive drills.