In my game preview for this afternoon’s bout against the Chicago White Sox, written last night near three in the morning, the number one thing I was looking forward to was how the kids look early.
You can imagine my sheer and utter joy upon seeing the lineup this morning, only a few hours later, mind you, and seeing Trayce Thompson in centerfield in Joc Pederson’s place.
Technically speaking, Thompson is still fairly young at 24 years of and, theoretically, an outfield of him, Pederson and Yasiel Puig could be the Dodgers’ outfield of the future.
Spring Training is about trying things, and Thompson starting of Joc feels in line with that thinking.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the lineup, per the Dodgers’ official Twitter account.
Today’s #Dodgers lineup:
Van Slyke 1B
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 3, 2016
We’ll go top, to bottom.
Howie Kendrick starts at second base, where one can imagine he’ll get the majority of this season’s starts, so long as he’s healthy. What I’m more interested in watching this spring is how he fares when Dave Roberts slide him over to third, as he said he might.
Andre Ethier starts today in left amid all the trade speculation. It’s pretty safe to say he’s probably excited to just get out and play in a game situation today, as evidenced by his tremendous bat flip yesterday.
— Joseph Kim (@blackwings2011) March 3, 2016
Same goes for Yasiel Puig, who comes to spring much leaner this year. He gets the start in right field and is batting third.
Scott Van Slyke is starting in Adrian Gonzalez’s spot as the latter sits out to rest an aching neck. Van Slyke can actually do himself a huge favor this year and play well at first as the outfield is so crowded and Gonzalez ages.
Yasmani Grandal is catching and batting fifth as Roberts lives up to his word on predicting that Grandal would do so more often than last year, even though Kershaw might prefer A.J. Ellis behind the plate. Developing chemistry early in the spring is huge, here.
Corey Seager is starting at short and, per our poll, is easily the player everyone is looking forward to watching and it isn’t very close. Can’t argue with the fans there.
Super utility man Kike Hernandez is batting DH today, but you can safely assume he’ll be moved all over the field this spring and throughout this season.
Alex Guerrero starts at third base today as Justin Turner isn’t quite ready to return and won’t be for a week, at least. Guerrero is another outfielder who could benefit from playing in a position that isn’t his natural fit to increase playing time this year. Roberts said he’ll play almost primarily at this spot, so this is pretty much an audition to keep his job.
As alluded to earlier, Thompson starts in center today against his old team. He’s someone I have my eye on given his athleticism and potential versatility in that younger Dodgers outfield I mentioned earlier. A strong showing today would be great to get positive momentum early on. I’m honestly not really sure why Thompson is starting, but if it’s Roberts giving him an opportunity to play well against his old team, more power to Roberts.
Finally, Clayton Kershaw is on the mound and, anytime that’s the case, it’s must-watch baseball, as I made the case for in my preview. Per Bill Plunkett, here are some other pitchers we’ll see in today’s game, as Kershaw absolutely will not be stretched very long.
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) March 3, 2016
Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has you covered with the White Sox’s lineup.
White Sox lineup vs. Dodgers:
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) March 3, 2016
John Danks against Clayton Kershaw would be some matchup during the regular season, wouldn’t it?
Here’s something to get us ready for this game, though we hardly need anything to get excited for the first live baseball we’ve seen in months.
Realizing there’s a huge difference between these two.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) March 3, 2016