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El Paisano

Dodgers: Back-to-back NL champs ready to get back to work

David Ibarra, Reporter

With Spring Training nearing its end, the Dodgers seem to be in good hands leading into the new season. The defending National League champions are currently riding a 7-5 Spring Training record with three weeks left to go before Opening Day on March 28th. It is a safe assumption that the Dodgers appear to be in healthier hands as the season approaches. Los Angeles has made the steps necessary to go into 2019 refreshed on another run at the pennant.

When the Dodgers began Spring Training, questions arose as to whether or not management had done enough to change the team that had not won a championship after two World Series appearances. Earlier in the Spring, the Dodgers had been linked to star names in free agency. Two of those rumors swirling around catcher J.T Realmuto and outfielder Bryce Harper. Both of which sent ripples throughout the MLB in hopes they can be acquired. Both players ended up joining the Philadelphia Phillies. The Dodgers ended up with Russell Martin in the backstop and AJ Pollock in the outfield.

It seems like a fitting move for the Dodgers, who are not notorious for massive long-term contract deals. These are both respectable acquisitions, as Martin serves as a more-than capable backup for LA’s presumed starting catcher Austin Barnes. With the departure of two outfielders in Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, Pollock offers the same amount of power.

One of the more under the radar acquisitions is LA landing World Series reliever Joe Kelly. Kelly, who was a big part of Boston’s success last year in the World Series, serves as the perfect set up man for closer Kenley Jansen. The Southern California native held the Dodgers to a zero runs in 6 innings and 10 strikeouts last year in the World Series. It is an important piece to add to a Dodgers’ bullpen who struggled with consistency last year.

For Los Angeles, with all the good comes some bad. Some players are still recovering from their injuries from last year and have yet to play in Spring Training games. Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw, dealing with shoulder discomfort, is not playing for most of Spring Training. He has recently begun throwing again, though not off the mound, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction to getting him ready for Opening Day. The team has yet to scratch the lefty from opening up the season.

Corey Seager, who was sidelined most of 2018 because of Tommy John surgery, has yet to play in a live game in Spring Training but is on pace to be ready for Opening Day. Seager has been taking batting practice and throwing from shortstop with no cause for concern.

Finally, Russell Martin, the catcher the Dodgers acquired over the off season, is day-to-day with back discomfort. Look for number two pitcher Walker Buehler, the rookie who made a name for himself last season, to begin throwing in the coming weeks. Buehler has not been playing this Spring because LA hopes to keep him on an inning limit.

The last stride of Spring is approaching. For now, the goal in sight is to make sure the whole team is near 100 percent. LA has taken the steps necessary to revamp their team in order to remain contenders going into October. It is imperative to acknowledge that even though some of the key components from the team is still rehabilitating from injury, it is reassuring to see that most of the team is healthy enough to appear for Opening Day.

The Dodgers look to continue Spring training for the next three weeks culminating with a three-game freeway series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on March 24th thru the 26th. Opening Day begins March 28 as the Dodgers welcome division rivals Arizona Diamondbacks.


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Dodgers: Back-to-back NL champs ready to get back to work