So, Thursday’s opener went well! Isn’t it nice to talk about actual baseball? Well, the Los Angeles Dodgers are back in action again this afternoon (though the game won’t be televised by SportsNet L.A for some ridiculous reason) and have released today’s lineup.
Here’s what we have thus far, via the team’s official Twitter account.
Today’s Dodger lineup vs. TEX
Van Slyke 1B
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 4, 2016
Again, just as yesterday, we’ll look at the lineup from top to bottom.
Carl Crawford makes his Spring debut in left field and in the leadoff spot. He’s another of the seemingly endless line of outfielders vying for innings in one of those three spots; add to that the pressure that comes from fans due to his contract and this might be one of his most anxious Spring games in a little while.
Joc Pederson will follow Crawford in the lineup and start in his normal centerfield position. In Thursday’s matchup against the Chicago White Sox, Dave Roberts went with Trayce Thompson in this spot. There were a couple plays Thompson looked somewhat awkward on defensively in that game, so if Pederson brings his solid defensive skills, as well as the new swing we’ve heard about, he could take an important first step in winning the position battle outright.
Chase Utley is hitting in the third spot and playing his natural position at second base, though it’s been reported that he’ll also spend time at third this season. Howie Kendrick played there yesterday and will probably get the lion’s share of starts at second this season, but if Utley is a professional and could show well in spots to give him rest when needed.
Scott Van Slyke will get another crack at first base as Adrian Gonzalez — who was supposed to make his debut today — gets another day’s rest. Van Slyke did turn things around yesterday with a hit in his final at-bat, but looked really awkward in his first plate appearance and made an error that led to a run at first. Van Slyke will be Gonzalez’s backup all season, so it’d be nice to see him bring some consistency to that role.
Kike Hernandez starts for Corey Seager, as the latter needs to man up after a rough start to his Spring from the plate. Oh, wait, wrong team. Sorry, force of habit with Byron. Hernandez will be the team’s super utility man this season and today is another example of his being plugged into a spot basically anywhere on a baseball field because he can be.
A.J. Ellis gets the start for Yasmani Grandal today, as Dave Roberts opted for the latter to catch Clayton Kershaw, which went well by all reports. This will be a storyline to keep up with throughout the season, as Grandal is the better overall player, but the chemistry Ellis has built with Kershaw is tough to overlook.
Thompson slides over to right field after starting in center yesterday, and it seems Roberts is giving him ample opportunity to prove himself in this early part of the Spring. It will be interesting to see how he and Joc fare in the same outfield, as both are natural centerfielders.
Alex Guerrero won’t be a third today, though it is worth noting he looked pretty solid in his time there yesterday. Combine that with a bomb in that first game and he’s enjoying this spring season. Let’s hope he can keep it going.
Brandon Hicks will get his shot at third with Justin Turner still nursing that knee injury and Guerrero batting in the DH spot today. Hicks is an NRI and longshot to make the roster, but Roberts is giving him a fair shot nonetheless.
Finally, Scott Kazmir will throw his first pitches in a live game setting for the Dodgers today and, seeing as starting pitching is dropping all around him, Kazmir will be leaned on more heavily than it might’ve appeared before spring started. His first two innings are really nothing to draw on moving forward, but it’s always nice to get off to a positive start.
Dodgers’ lineup for today’s game at Surprise vs. the Rangers. pic.twitter.com/FNR2DKuvsB
— Doug Padilla (@DougPadilla) March 4, 2016
Per Padilla’s picture, it looks like we’ll get our first glimpse of Jharrel Cotton today, which will be very interesting to watch — er, listen to?