Coming off a season that was far from impressive, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen figured to be under a microscope in Spring Training. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi worked diligently to upgrade the group of relievers, but were thrown a curve ball when Kenley Jansen underwent foot surgery.
Jansen had his share of troubles in the early stages of the 2014 season, then rebounded to become an effective closer, good enough to convert a career-high 44 saves. In losing Jansen, not only will the Dodgers be down their closer for the next 8-12 weeks, but also arguably their best reliever.
Among the players who may be relied upon to fill the void during Jansen’s absence is Chris Hatcher, who the Dodgers acquired in the seven-player trade with the Miami Marlins. While Hatcher conceivably is at the doorstep of opportunity, his focus isn’t on emerging as Jansen’s replacement, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA:
First and foremost, I just want to make the team. Second of all, just to be ready when they call my name,” Hatcher said. “They haven’t really expressed anything to me, and I’m not expecting [to close]. I’m just preparing to be ready to take the ball.”
Hatcher expressed a similar sentiment at the Dodgers’ annual FanFest in January, at the time saying he didn’t necessarily believe in bullpen roles as much as being prepared to answer the bell. While he’ll be in contention to make the Opening Day roster and has a power arm, the likelihood of Hatcher becoming the Dodgers’ closer for the time being doesn’t appear likely.
Manager Don Mattingly said Thursday he isn’t looking for one reliever to take command of the ninth inning, but instead will rely on matchups in the latter stages of games. Hatcher doesn’t have any career saves in portions of four seasons with the Marlins, though has 55 over six seasons in the Minors.
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