Dodgers Week in Review: Bellinger Returns, and more with Two Weeks Left Before Opening Day

Photo+Caption%3A+Kenley+Jansen+enters+his+17th+year+into+the+Dodgers+organization.+This+offseason+he+did+not+go+back+to+his+home+of+Curacao%2C+putting+in+more+work+than+ever+as+he+approaches+the+last+year+of+his+contract.

Photo Courtesy of Ian D'Andrea via Flickr

Photo Caption: Kenley Jansen enters his 17th year into the Dodgers organization. This offseason he did not go back to his home of Curacao, putting in more work than ever as he approaches the last year of his contract.

This week of Dodgers action gave us a lot of compelling stories and results, with only two weeks until Opening Day in Colorado. 

Kershaw to Get Ninth Career Opening Day Start

The first big takeaway from the week was the announcement by manager Dave Roberts. Roberts announced that Dodgers veteran starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw would be starting on Opening Day in Colorado. The Opening Day start on April 1 would be Kershaw’s ninth opening day start of his career. No other Dodgers pitcher has started more times on Opening Day.

“He’s earned it. He’s the right guy for 2021. For every reason I think it just makes the most sense,” Roberts explained in an interview on Monday. 

“Very excited for April 1st, just hopefully it is not in a blizzard,” Kershaw said in an interview this week in regards to his opening day start.

Roster Cuts

This week also saw the Dodgers make 28 cuts to the roster, officially cutting the Major League camp roster down to 45 with around two weeks to go. Among the roster cuts included top pitching prospect Josiah Gray, prospect Kody Hoese, and others. 21 of the 28 were reassigned to minor league camp. 

Seager Continues Scorching Pace, Bellinger Returns

Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger revamped his stance this offseason, noting he had a lot of time to do so recovering from his offseason shoulder surgery. (Photo Courtesy of Ian D’Andrea via Flickr)

On the diamond, we saw a lot of positives from Dodgers’ shortstop Corey Seager. Last season NLCS and World Series MVP has already hit six home runs in Spring Training. Two of those home runs came Monday the 15th against Colorado and the most recent on Sunday versus the Giants. The 26-year-old looks to make a mark yet again this season in the Dodgers lineup, after homering 16 times last regular season and eight times during the postseason.

On top of Seager’s recent show of power, the Dodgers finally saw the return of Cody Bellinger into the lineup. The outfielder and first baseman returned on Tuesday the 16th after missing the first weeks of Spring Training, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. As some may recall, he injured his right shoulder after celebrating his go-ahead homerun on Game 7 of the NLCS against Atlanta. 

In his first Spring Training action, it was noticeable from the get-go was that Bellinger had changed his batting stance. Typically standing tall and straight to home, it was noticeable that Bellinger opened his front foot more away from home plate.

When asked about the change, Bellinger noted, “I feel confident with it. I feel really good with it.” 

Bellinger has changed his stance in the past, which helped during his 2019 NL MVP season. 

The new stance already showed its effectiveness too as Bellinger homered on Thursday versus Arizona with the new look stance.

Jansen Looks to Improve in Contract Year

One last takeaway from this week is the resurgence of relief pitcher Kenley Jansen. Jansen, an 11-year veteran, struggled at times during last season and during the playoffs. He did show flashes of consistency too during last season, but during this spring he has been dominant so far. 

Jansen has already struck out 10 batters in six appearances and innings pitched, only allowing one run thus far. That run came in his most recent outing against the Texas Rangers.

“I feel like the last few years my command wasn’t there so that’s my number one priority to work on this offseason,” Jansen said in an interview Wednesday. In the last year of his contract too, Kenley noted that he has been working harder than ever. Jansen noted that he won’t take anything for granted.  

 

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