Traveling to Australia for their Opening Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks definitely made for an unusual preseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both teams had a condensed spring training schedule, playing in fewer games than every other team in the league in order to accommodate their trip to Australia; not to mention the 14-hour flight to Sydney and back just to start their regular season an entire week before every other MLB team.
Dodgers’ pitching coach Rick Honeycutt commented on the way the team’s pitchers struggled as a by-product of an unorthodox spring and grueling early schedule via Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
Then they’re asking us to come back and play before anybody else plays, move our schedule up a day? Honeycutt said. That doesn’t make any sense, either.
Honeycutt also added that he believes a starter should have a minimum of five starts during spring games, attributing to the fact that no Dodger starter saw more than four starts during spring training. The cynicism of the Australia trip is undoubtedly heightened considering the recent injuries suffered by Clayton Kershaw and Brian Wilson and their disabled list stints that followed.
Wilson admitted to not having enough time to get ready for the regular season although Kershaw has been a little more discreet. Even though no one can say for sure, one can definitely speculate about the correlation between the trip and the injuries, considering this overseas trek was a different variable for the Dodger ace. This is his first time in his career seeing time on the disabled list.
Regardless of what any proponent of the trip says, there are undeniable side-effects that can come from having fewer opportunities to play in spring and also from the jet lag of having to travel such long distances. For the most part, the team understands why the international Opening Series was important for the MLB as a whole, but it has opened up the table for much discussion on what can be done in the future to improve upon each team’s experience.
DON MATTINGLY: On Australia And Exhibition Games As Spring Training Ends