The Dodgers after the game on Tuesday all but officially finalized their opening day roster, with Justin Sellers and Josh Lindblom claiming the final two spots.
Sellers beat out non-roster invitees Josh Fields and Luis Cruz for the final bench spot, leaving the Dodgers with no real right-handed power threat off the bench (though it is debatable whether Fields, for instance, would have in fact been that power threat anyway).
"You can certainly have the right-hand power off the bench, but do you have the same defensive flexibility? The roster can change every day," said general manager Ned Colletti.
Neither Fields nor Cruz have out clauses in their contracts in the immediate future, so they will head to Triple A, and could be added to the roster if needed. Though the 40-man roster is currently full (though they will have a vacancy once Ronald Belisario is placed on the suspended list), manager Don Mattingly said they would have no problem creating roster space if needed.
"We're able to do whatever we want. If we feel that's best for the club, we're able to do it," Mattingly said.
Sellers hit .344/.400/.537 with 14 home runs in 89 games last year in Albuquerque, earning his first big league call-up on August 12. Sellers played shortstop, second base, and third base, and started out hot at the plate, hitting .278/.339/.426 through 15 games.
But he ended the year with 10 hits in his final 69 at-bats, hitting .145/.241/.203 over his final 21 games. The Dodgers wanted Sellers to cut down on the fly balls.
"Know thyself, that's what he needs to do. You can't hit fly balls if you aren't going to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Mattingly said Tuesday night. "You hit flyballs at Dodger Stadium, San Francisco, or San Diego, you're going to die."
Sellers earlier in the spring said he worked hard in the offseason to try to stay in the majors.
"I worked on becoming the player that I'm going to have to be to stick here. I used to get out of my comfort zone to try to lift and hit home runs," Sellers said. "I really came to grasp the type of player I can be, by hitting line drives, getting on base, very similar to Jamey Carroll."
Mattingly called Sellers "special with the glove," and praised his hard work, and choice of role model.
"When we first saw this guy, he was raw and cocky and his game was all over the place," Mattingly said. "He picked a good role model. Those are two opposite ends of the spectrum, as Sellers is tatted from beck to toe, while Jamey Carroll is as straight laced as you're going to get. It's smart to know who he is following.
"This guy could play all positions, he's a great teammate, and the next thing you know, Jamey Carroll has played a while. Sellers should be that guy."
Lindblom, who beat out Scott Rice for the eighth spot in the pen, put everything together in 2011 making his major league debut and striking out 28 against seven unintentional walks in 30 innings with the Dodgers. This spring he has nine strikeouts and one walk in 12 innings with a 3.86 ERA.
"He has pitched as well as anyone in camp," Mattingly said.
"I feel great this spring, I've thrown the ball well. Strength wise, this is the best I've felt in any spring I've had," Lindblom said late last week. "Body, arm, everything, I feel strong. The ball is coming out well, and I feel like I'm ready for the season to start."
Earlier in the spring, Lindblom knew that with options he could be sent down but didn't let that stop him.
"It's a known fact that if you have options, you are kind of expendable, but as a player I can't really worry about that or think about that," Lindblom said. "All I can do is go out and every day get better. A lot of times when you try to go above and beyond your abilities, you come out of your mechanics or try and do too much, and it ends up working against you.
Rice, a native of Simi Valley, has spent the last 13 years either in the minor leagues, independent ball, or both. The 30-year old left-hander was a supplemental first round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1999 draft, a compensation pick for Rafael Palmeiro signing with the Texas Rangers.
After getting released by the Chicago Cubs last March, Rice pitched in 15 games for the independent league York Revolution before the Dodgers signed him to a minor league contract in June. Rice pitched in 34 games for Double A Chattanooga last year and put up a 1.95 ERA with 17 walks and 42 strikeouts in 51 innings.
"He seems like he's figured out who he is. He's been really impressive this spring," Mattingly said of Rice on Tuesday. "I stood in with him. His ball goes straight down. If he can stay down in the strike zone, he gets lefties and righties out. He's interesting."
Mattingly said he expects Rice to pitch with the Dodgers this season.
Opening Day Roster
The moves will become official on Wednesday, but here will be the Dodgers opening day roster, barring injury.
Catchers (2): A.J. Ellis, Matt Treanor
Infielders (7): James Loney, Mark Ellis, Dee Gordon, Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston Jr., Adam Kennedy, Justin Sellers
Outfielders (4): Juan Rivera, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Tony Gwynn Jr.
Starting Pitchers (4): Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang
Relief Pitchers (8): Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Matt Guerrier, Todd Coffey, Mike MacDougal, Scott Elbert, Jamey Wright, Josh Lindblom
Disabled List (3): Rubby De La Rosa (60-day), Blake Hawksworth (60-day), Ted Lilly
The Dodgers conclude their spring training with one final game, a Wednesday afternoon contest against the Angels in the Freeway Series finale. Nathan Eovaldi starts for the Dodgers, facing C.J. Wilson for the Halos.
Home Runs: none
WP - Angel Sanchez (1-0): 2 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
LP - Hisanori Takahashi (0-1): 1/3 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks