Brewers (22-10-3) @ Dodgers (16-20), 7:10pm
Joe Torre is expected to announce the Opening Day 25-man roster after tonight's game at Dodger Stadium against Milwaukee. Chin-Lung Hu is one of the Men At Work vying for the final infield spot. Hu is fighting with two others, Blake DeWitt and Juan Castro, for this spot. The argument for keeping DeWitt is that he's the best hitter of the three; the only drawback is if the club feels there wouldn't be enough playing time for this spot, thus hindering DeWitt's development. But really, this position requires the ability to play shortstop, something DeWitt is new to. It's hard to expect DeWitt -- an excellent defensive third baseman -- to be able to hold his own defensively at SS.
That's where Hu steps in. Hu is a defensive wizard, able to play either middle infield spot with ease. I would argue the club doesn't lose anything defensively when Hu steps in for Furcal. Hu has overcome his vision problems, which led to a putrid 2008 at the plate, to become "the star of the spring," according to Joe Torre. Castro is the other option here, since he has the reputation of a defensive stalwart -- even though that is no longer the case. Factor in the .290 career OBP for Castro, plus the need to make a roster move to acommodate him, and it's clear if the club adds Castro, It's a Mistake.
Besides Hu, another Dodger hoping to avoid being sent Down Under is Ramon Troncoso. He's fighting for the final bullpen spot, and his spot on the 40-man roster gives him an advantage over someone like Tanyon Sturtze for that role (not to mention, the ability to pitch of course). Will Ohman will also have a spot in the pen, but he may require a week or so in the minors to get ready for the season (he hadn't pitched this spring until last week). So someone like Sturtze could still end up on the roster as a placeholder until Ohman is ready, although perhaps Scott Elbert would be a better choice given his southpaw status (and, again, the ability to pitch).
An important thing to keep in mind about these roster thoughts is that this is simply the 25-man roster to start the season. There will be many contributors for the Dodgers this season -- the Dodgers used 46 players last season, for instance -- as they attempt to Overkill their NL West foes.
Today's game brings us closer to the merciful end to the longest spring training ever. The Dodgers do in fact play one game in San Francisco tomorrow, but aside from fifth starter James McDonald, no regulars or semi-regulars are scheduled to make the trip north.
Clayton Kershaw starts on the mound for the Dodgers today, and is opposed by Dave Bush.
The game will be televised on KCAL or, if you are not in the Los Angeles area, MLB Network (at least in theory).