Being that the Los Angeles Dodgers been in camp at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix for a couple of weeks and have started playing exhibition games, with the exception of the presence of legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax to work with the pitchers the Dodgers’ spring training can best be described by paraphrasing the title of a movie starring Robert DiNiro, Drew Barrymore, and Kate Beckinsale that was released a few years ago:
Everything’s Fine – so far.
Which means that as of now no major, season-ending injuries have been reported and everything’s pretty much on schedule.
Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, while they haven’t seen any action as of yet due to their continuing to recover from their surgeries, have been working out and plan to start playing within the next two weeks, and everyone else is either getting their work in – getting sharp for the 162-game campaign – or trying to make the ball club.
Six Dodgers will be leaving camp this coming weekend to participate in the World Baseball Classic, including key infielders Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, who will be playing for Mexico and the Dominican Republic, respectively. Third baseman Luis Cruz will be joining Gonzalez on the Mexican team, utility infielder Nick Punto will play for Italy, and reliever Ronald Bellisario will be pitching for Venezuela. Play will start March 1, with the championship game slated for AT&T Park in San Francisco on March 19.
With Ramirez and Cruz – who is currently recovering from stomach flu – out, Dee Gordon has a golden opportunity to show his stuff and try and prove to manager Don Mattingly that he belongs in Chavez Ravine and not in Triple-A Albuquerque.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers have won their last couple of exhibition games, including a 11-7 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday in which top prospect Yasiel Puig, a 22-year old outfielder from Cuba who the Dodgers consider a big part of their future, had two hits and scored three runs.
However, winning games is really not what Spring Training – or any other pre-season in sports for that matter – is all about as the results of those games mean absolutely nothing. Particularly when one considers that at this point of the exhibition schedule, whichever starters who are going to be in there when the season kicks off are done for the day and the minor leaguers and players trying to make the club are playing and trying to impress the manager, the coaches and the brass by roughly the 5th inning.
As a perfect illustration of this: In 2008, when the Detroit Lions had their historically dubious 0-16 season and cemented their place as having the worst year in the history of professional sports, the team went a perfect 4-0 in the pre-season.
If that doesn’t show once and for all that wins and losses mean nothing before opening day, nothing does.
A little over four weeks remain before the Dodgers kick it off against the defending champion San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on March 31.
Hopefully the rest of spring training goes as smoothly for L.A. as it has so far.