With Carl Crawford staying behind as he awaits the birth of his third child, the Dodgers are left to make a decision as to who will be the starting left fielder for the Opening Series in Australia. At manager Don Mattingly’s disposal are outfielders Scott Van Slyke, Joc Pederson, and Mike Baxter as the Dodgers will face Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill in the first two games.
Pederson is likely to play the exhibition game and not a regular season game in Australia and against the left-handed Miley, Van Slyke seems to be the obvious choice. According to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, while Mattingly hasn’t announced a choice, the 27-year-old is the presumed starter:
Don Mattingly hasn’t named a starting left fielder for Opening Night yet, but Scott Van Slyke is the most likely candidate.
During Spring Training, Van Slyke tied for the team lead in home runs and finished second with seven RBI as he came into camp this year much more relaxed. In 2013, he rode the elevator between the big leagues and Triple A, but saw success when he finally stuck with the big club.
He hit .240 with seven home runs and 19 RBI, but close to half of his total number of hits went for extra bases. Not only does Mattingly see value with Van Slyke in the outfield, but he seems to be Adrian Gonzalez’s primary backup at first base.
The Dodgers will play an exhibition game tomorrow against Team Australia and then will prepare for their two games against the Diamondbacks on Saturday. Baxter could find himself playing in the second game against the righty Cahill, but look for Van Slyke to start Game One in left field.
ICYMI: Here’s what Don Mattingly had to say about the Dodgers trip to Australia