Spring Training: Freeway Series In Arizona Announces Start of Baseball in So Cal

David Ibarra, Reporter

As quickly and quietly as it arrived, the Winter Meetings have gone, and a new spring is upon us. The Los Angeles Dodgers have exited the offseason with slight renovations to the team that has appeared in back-to-back World Series.

The team bid farewell to their General Manager Farhan Zaidi, who, since 2013, helped shape the team to be formidable contenders in October. They also sent off a fan-favorite in Yasiel Puig with hopes to stay under the luxury tax threshold. Within that, they acquired former Dodger catcher Russell Martin to replace Yasmani Grandal, and former Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly. Now, with 2018 behind them, the Dodgers hope to make it three World Series appearances in a row this upcoming season. Their renovations will be put into play as they begin their Spring Training exhibition matches against various teams, including a freeway matchup with the neighboring Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

With a healthier Dodgers team on deck, there is plenty to be refreshed about heading into Spring Training. For starters, the 2016 Rookie of the Year, Corey Seager is set to return from Tommy John surgery that kept him out most of last season. With the departure of Manny Machado, this comes as a relief to fans who expect the Rookie of the Year to come back to his old ways before his injury. On top of that, the powerful starting rotation will return this season. Led by Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers remain one of the biggest powerhouses in the pitching department. With the acquisition of Kelly, the reliever responsible for much of the Red Sox’s success in their World Series run last year, an already strong bullpen gets stronger.

A lot of the new developments will be in play when the Dodgers visit the Angels in Tempe, Arizona on March 7th. Both the Angels and Dodgers have led an almost underwhelming offseason while being linked to big trade rumors including Mike Moustakas and Manny Machado, who ended up singing elsewhere. However, both teams have the necessary assets to make a run towards October baseball, barring any serious injuries to their dominant starters. And while Spring Training is merely a warmup session for players to get the feel of playing nine inning ball again, look for these two teams to continue a freeway rivalry with no intention of taking it easy on one another. The Dodgers are poised to prove they belong in another pennant race, while Anaheim looks to show they can compete in playoff baseball.

The Dodgers ended the 2018 season in first place in the National League West for the sixth straight year. The Angels ended fourth and did not earn a playoff berth.

With 2019 approaching quick, both teams have very much to prove. Mike Trout and the Angels look to reclaim their 2014 AL West championship, while the Dodgers aim to make it seven NL West championships in a row and 3 consecutive World Series appearances. Both teams added significant assets to their roster this offseason and both have the same endgame at play: be the last team standing in October.