At least Dave Roberts knows whom he wants to pitch first.
The Los Angeles Dodgers first-time manager welcomed pitchers and catchers to spring training Friday with one big certainty – Clayton Kershaw will be his No. 1 starter. In the wake of Zack Greinke’s departure for the Arizona Diamondbacks via free agency, the rest needs sorted out.
“We haven’t talked about No. 2, 3 or 4,” Roberts said. “We just know who’s going to be No. 1.”
Greinke left a big hole when he signed a six-year, $206.5-million (U.S.) deal in a stunning move on Dec. 8. He went 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA last season while the Dodgers won their third successive National League West title.
Brett Anderson was the only other pitcher to make at least 22 starts for last year’s Dodgers. The left-hander is back for a second season after making a career-high 31 starts in 2015, going 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA. It was the first time he’d made more than eight starts in a season since 2011.
Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda were both brought in to fill out the rotation. The left-handed Kazmir is a three-time all-star who signed a six-year contract for $48-million on Dec. 30. He went 7-11 with a 3.10 ERA with the A’s and Astros last year.
Maeda was an eight-year veteran in Japan and went 15-7 with a 2.09 ERA with Hiroshima last season, then signed an eight-year, $25-million deal in January. That contract includes incentives that could bring the deal’s worth to $106.2-million, but he’ll have to earn that cash after the potential for an elbow injury was discovered in a physical.
Maeda said Friday at the Dodgers complex at Camelback Ranch that he was still adjusting to a new language, surroundings and teammates.
“I’m not too concerned about contract,” Maeda said through a translator. “I’m only concerned with doing my best. The only way to get accepted is with results.”
For opening day, left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias could help fill things out. And at some point, the team expects to get back Hyun-Jin Ryu, a South Korean left-hander who was the Dodgers No. 3 starter in 2013 and 2014 but missed all of last season following shoulder surgery.
Roberts and Andrew Friedman, Dodgers president of baseball operations, are optimistic Ryu will be back, but perhaps not by opening day on April 4 at the San Diego Padres. Ryu threw about 35 pitches Thursday.
“He’s not 100 per cent,” Roberts said. “But the ball is coming out of his hand easy. The effort was low-intensity. He was pretty happy about yesterday and how he feels today.”
“There was just a normal soreness kind of thing. He was pain-free. We don’t want to be on a timeline on anything. We just want him to progress.”
The Dodgers expect Ryu to pitch this March in a spring training game.
“We’re going to take the long view in terms of building him up and do things the right way,” Friedman said. “Once we get him back, we want to keep him back. We want keep him on track with the throwing progression. Emotionally, we all want him to be ready. We just need to make sure we do it right.”
The Dodgers added to their pitching depth Friday by signing Louis Coleman to a one-year contract. To make room on the roster, left-hander Brandon McCarthy was placed on the 60-day disabled list. McCarthy underwent Tommy John surgery on April 30, ending his season in 2015 after going 3-0 with a 5.89 ERA after four starts.
Coleman is the 34th pitcher in Dodgers camp. In 2015, he appeared in four games for the Kansas City Royals, pitching three scoreless innings.Report Typo/Error