Spring Training is here, which means all other sports matter less, and wow, there’s way too much news out of the Los Angeles Dodgers camp already.
Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, which is basically the biggest Captain Obvious moment of the season.
Then Matt Kemp told the media that he doesn’t want the 2011 NL MVP Award if Ryan Braun is suspended.
“I would want to win by them voting me,” Kemp said. “I wouldn’t want them to just, ‘Oh, this person did that so how about we just give the award to this person?’ I don’t think it should work that way.
“If it is that way, then it should be a vacant award for 2011, no one should win the MVP award in the National League.”
Kemp said he hopes Braun is vindicated.
“I know Braun,” he said. “We’ve always been cool. We’ve been friends. He’s been one of my favorite players in the big leagues. I hope it’s not true.”
Kemp has handled this situation extremely well up to this point and that just cements it.
It wasn’t all rainbows and kittens though, as Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported that Blake Hawksworth won’t be ready to start the season because a second operation was necessary to clean up his elbow.
As far as roles and playing time go, Eric Stephen of True Blue LA has a ton of news.
“Javy, to me, didn’t do anything last year to say he shouldn’t be that guy,” manager Don Mattingly said on Tuesday. “More than anything, Kenley was saying ‘Hey I can do that too’ by the way he pitched. It’s a good problem for us to have.”
“Javy has been here one year,” said Mattingly. “It’s a competition, you still have to perform. There have been a lot of guys in their first year were really good and struggled the next year. Kenley was a perfect example, as he wasn’t himself [to start 2011] that he was the year before. It took him a half a season with little problems here and there, and he was in the minors for a little bit, but next thing you know he emerged back to what we had seen the year before.”
Javy Guerra will be the closer over Kenley Jansen to start the season, and while Jansen is the better pitcher, I don’t have a problem with this, as it gives the team better flexibility in regards to Jansen’s usage.
“It’s not like he’s a bad guy, or you don’t like him. But to this point he’s been tough to count on,” Mattingly said of relief pitcher Ronald Belisario, who is here in camp, but was not available for reporters as he left for a dental appointment. “It’s a step in the right direction that he’s here.”
The much maligned Ronald Belisario was actually there in person in real life at Spring Training and it’s important because if he looks anything like his old self, Hawksworth’s injury might have just opened up a spot.
In the world of position players, both starting and backup roles are at stake.
Jerry Sands doesn’t necessarily need to win an everyday spot in the lineup to make the opening day roster, but Mattingly said he needs to have a certain number of plate appearances to justify a spot on the big league roster, as the club wants Sands to play nearly every day. While Mattingly shied away from committing to a plan of sitting Andre Ethier and Loney against southpaws, the manager said that figuring out a way to get Sands enough at-bats will be one of his projects in camp.
I have a way to get Jerry Sands at bats: don’t play Juan Rivera.
The backup shortstop will be Jerry Hairston Jr., as Mattingly wants to keep Juan Uribe at third base. Should Dee Gordon go down for any extended period of time, the club would turn to Justin Sellers.
Jerry Hairston Jr. is a fine utility infielder, but that paragraph makes me want to barf. Juan Uribe at third all the time and Justin Sellers is the backup in case Dee Gordon doesn’t take off like they expect.
Could be bad.
Finally, it was announced that Gordon will hit first, while Kemp hits third.
I’ll explore this later, but this could be a bad idea. Gordon got better later in the season, but it was a tiny sample size, and as a whole, he has always struggled at taking a walk. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, putting your best hitter in the three hole is not optimal either.