The sound of a 95 mph fastball hitting a catcher’s mitt. The swift sound of a swing and miss on a summer afternoon. The Dodger Dogs, the weekend fireworks, games on every night … it’s just around the corner. Dodger baseball is fast approaching.
Happy @Dodgers Pitchers & Catchers Report Day!!
— Camelback Ranch (@camelbackranch) February 15, 2017
Pitchers and catchers reported to Camelback on Wednesday. Both areas are expected to be stronger points on this Dodgers club, which is seeking its fifth straight division crown and first World Series berth since 1988.
The rotation is led by ace Clayton Kershaw, who is a Cy Young favorite if he stays healthy. Rich Hill is coming off a career year, with this being his first full season in Los Angeles. Kenta Maeda enters his second season in the United States, and hopes to pitch 200 innings.
Julio Urias, arguably the best pitching prospect in baseball, will be on an innings limit. That said, if the Dodgers win the NL pennant, he’ll be a major contributor.
Yasmani Grandal is possibly the best power-hitting catcher in the sport. He will start behind the plate on Opening Day. Grandal was acquired from San Diego in the Matt Kemp trade in December, 2014, and has served as the Dodgers’ primary catcher since.
Austin Barnes will serve as his primary backup for the first time in his young career. A.J. Ellis was traded last season and now resides in Miami, while Carlos Ruiz was dealt to Seattle. Roberts confirmed Barnes as the backup early in the offseason.
If this is the year L.A. finally breaks through, that path begins Wednesday at Camelback Ranch.