The Dodgers were fit to be tied today.
The Dodgers and Athletics played nine innings on Wednesday, but the game did not produce its desired result. We all left Phoenix Municipal Stadium with no winners, no losers, and not even Manny Ramirez.
And no closer controversy for the Dodgers. At least for now.
As likely will be the case all spring, and even into the regular season, there will be a question of when - not if - Kenley Jansen will take over the closing role from Javy Guerra. Jansen retired all three batters he faced in his first spring outing on Wedensday, striking out one, while Guerra was wild, walking two in his one inning and nearly walking a third had Josh Reddick not swung at ball four to start an inning-ending strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play.
It's the first game of the spring for both pitchers, and manager Don Mattingly was as clear today as he was on the first day of camp that Guerra is his closer. It makes sense, as you don't want to make decisions based off one spring outing. But Mattingly did give some thought during the offseason to switching the roles of the two relievers.
"It's hard not to [think about switching roles] with those two," Mattingly said. "But Javy took on that role and didn't drop the ball all year.
"I don't know what the right decision is, but this is a good problem to have. I like what those two have said, that they are approaching this like if we get to the eighth inning the game is over," Mattingly said, adding that it will be clear over time which path to take. "Ultimately, the game is going to tell me what to do."
Harang's Dodger Debut
Speaking of not overreacting to one spring appearance, Aaron Harang made his Dodgers Cactus League debut on Wednesday, allowing two runs on four hits in his two innings of work. The four hits were consecutive knocks with two outs in the first inning, including a pair of doubles.
"If you look back at my track record, the first couple [of starts] is just getting back into the feel of game speed, then it's working on specific things to sharpen up during the season," Harang said. "I'm not worried about it."
Harang threw 31 pitches in the game, then threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen after his outing, all part of the process of building up arm strength and getting used to the up and down nature of pitching in games.
Harang has been dealing with soreness in his right foot during camp, but it hasn't kept him from throwing any scheduled bullpen sessions. He was held out of some PFP drills but was able to fully participate in those this week. Harang said this foot problem is in a different spot than his right foot contusion last season, which sidelined him for four weeks.
Withrow Makes Spring Debut, Too
Chris Withrow pitched two innings for the Dodgers, allowing one run on one hit, with one walk, one strikeout, and one hit batter. Mattingly spoke highly of the right-hander, who was drafted in the first round in 2007.
"The promise is there. Sometimes it just takes guys a little longer. We're hoping Chris is one of those guys that are step by step, then all of a sudden you've got something," said Mattingly. "His stuff plays, there's no doubt about that.
"You look a little bit to the future, you see Kershaw, Eovaldi, Rubby, and you see [Withrow]. All of a sudden you see the possibility of a rotation that's got a group of young power arms with electric stuff."
The Dodgers have day-night split squad games in each of the next two Saturdays, and Mattingly said Withrow is likely going to start one of the games on March 17. Given that the veteran Harang is also scheduled to start on that day, my money is on Withrow making the bus trip to Scottsdale to pitch against the Colorado Rockies while Harang stays at Camelback Ranch to face the San Francisco Giants.
- The Dodgers had just four hits, but three came off the bat of Cory Sullivan, one of the non-roster invitees to camp. Sullivan, the former Rockies outfielder, was a DeJon Watson-recommended signing and someone Mattingly hadn't seen much of before camp this year. "He looks like he knows what he's doing," Mattingly said.
- Shawn Tolleson, the Dodgers 2011 minor league pitcher of the year, was warming up in the bottom of the ninth inning to possibly pitch if the game went into extra frames, but home plate umpire Tim McLelland made the decision to end the game after nine innings with the score tied at 3-3.
- Manny Ramirez was scheduled to bat cleanup for Oakland, but was a late scratch due to back stiffness.
The Dodgers and A's hook up again on Thursday at Camelback Ranch. Chris Capuano will make his Dodgers spring debut, facing Jarrod Parker, who was just acquired from Arizona during the offseason. Also scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers on Thursday are Stephen Fife, Matt Guerrier, Todd Coffey, Mike MacDougal, and John Grabow.