One thing that was made apparent on Opening Day had nothing to do with the game that was played. It happened when the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres were announced before the game. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who injured his foot in Spring Training, limped out of the dugout in a walking boot after hearing his name announced, making it clear to fans that he will not be returning any time soon.
With Jansen out for at least a month, that puts added pressure on a bullpen that is already under scrutiny after a poor performance in 2014. Newly acquired reliever Chris Hatcher put ease to that scrutiny, at least for one night, needing just nine pitches to retire the Padres and earn the save.
According to Clay Fowler of the Los Angeles Daily News, the Dodger Stadium crowd had the right-hander nervous:
Being in Dodger Stadium like that, it was pretty electric and I was probably too geeked up, too excited,” Hatcher said. “And once I hit the guy, I realized, ‘Hey, it’s still baseball. Get three outs.’”
Hatcher, who was acquired from the Miami Marlins in the Dee Gordon trade, is a converted catcher that throws a hard fastball with two good off-speed pitches, leading manager Don Mattingly to believe that he belonged in the closer’s role yesterday afternoon:
He’s got weapons,” Mattingly said. “He’s one of those guys we feel like is good for lefties and righties. He’s got three pitches, locates. So we thought he was a good matchup.”
It remains to be seen if Monday’s call by Mattingly was an indication that Hatcher will fill the closer’s role until Jansen returns. Hatcher doesn’t believe so:
I don’t think it’s going to come down to one guy while Kenley’s out, to be honest with you,” Hatcher said. “I’m going to go about it every day … I’m going to be ready.”
It will be hard to take Hatcher out of that role if he continues to produce the way he did yesterday.
Dodgers Spring Training – A.J. Ellis