January is coming to an end and Spring Training is just two weeks away for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their 2014 National League West title defense begins in exactly a month in Australia against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Today, we take a look at the ups and downs with the Dodgers this week:
The infielder/outfielder signed a minor-league deal with the team and received an invite to Spring Training for a chance to make the roster. He hasn’t played since 2012 with the Seattle Mariners, missing all of last season after being cut in the spring. After a workout last week, the Dodgers decided to give Figgins a chance to make his comeback.
Figgins will be competing for a spot off the bench for the Dodgers as their primary utility player. He’ll be competing with Dee Gordon, Justin Sellers, Miguel Rojas and Brendan Harris. Alexander Guerrero is slated to start at second base, but could head to the minors if he struggles at all during the spring.
If the 36-year-old can match his play from his days with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, then the Dodgers may have a steal in Figgins.
Time Warner Cable’s new Dodger channel, SportsNet LA, officially announced the launch date and the new broadcast team. Although most of the news had already been reported, it became official and the duties were announced. The launch date for the new channel has been confirmed for February 25.
Orel Hershiser and Charley Steiner will be calling all non-Vin Scully games on television, with Alanna Rizzo joining them on those broadcasts. Rick Monday and Nomar Garciaparra will be the road radio broadcast team. Garciaparra, Rizzo and Jerry Hairston, Jr. will also be a part of the pre and post game crew. John Hartung will be the studio host for the channel.
SportsNet LA has put together a strong broadcast team and it will be anchored by Vin Scully, who’ll be in his 65th year with the Dodgers.
This week, the Dodgers announced their invitations to 15 non-roster players to major-league camp for the spring. Some of the biggest names included catcher Miguel Olivo, Harris and prospects Zach Lee, Joc Pederson, Chris Reed and Ross Stripling.
Of the ones invited, the ones with the best chance of making the team are Olivo, Harris and Lee. Olivo will be trying to unseat Tim Federowicz as the team’s primary backup at catcher, while Harris will also be competing for an infielder role. Lee could see himself getting consideration for the team’s fifth spot in the rotation with a strong spring, but it’s unlikely.
For the prospects, the Dodgers may want them to share a clubhouse with some of their veteran players and see how to handle themselves before the season.
Dodgers’ Super Rotation
The biggest news regarding the Dodgers this week had to do with a player choosing to sign with a team other than the Dodgers. Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka came to a decision and signed with the New York Yankees for seven years and $155 million. He was expected to choose between the Yankees and Dodgers and ultimately took the deal in New York.
It was discovered that the Dodgers were in third place in the Tanaka courting, falling behind the Chicago Cubs as well as the Yankees. Many saw a rotation with Tanaka, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren as being one of the best in recent history. The Dodgers will now head into the spring with Josh Beckett as the fifth starter, barring any signings.
Tanaka was more of a luxury for the team and they’ll still head into 2014 with a strong rotation backed by a stronger bullpen.
Conflicting reports this week have left many confused as to when the center fielder will return. Dodger president Stan Kasten had said that Kemp would be ready by the spring; however, his agent, Dave Stewart, said that he won’t be ready until April 1. The 29-year-old is recovering from shoulder and ankle surgery and has been working all winter to be prepared for the upcoming season.
Without Kemp, the Dodgers won’t be in much trouble because of their depth at the position, but the right-handed slugger can change the dynamic of the offense. The season starts March 22 in Australia for the Dodgers, giving Kemp two months to be healthy. Once the Gold Glove outfielder arrives to Camelback Ranch, the timetable for his recovery will be a bit clearer.
The Dodgers are looking forward to a healthy Kemp after two injury-plagued seasons and will allow him as much time as necessary to fully recover.
ICYMI: While the Dodgers lost out on Masahiro Tanaka, they still want to sign another starting pitcher