The usual rule for spring training games is that four major league players must start, though the vague definition of the rule makes it nearly impossible to enforce. In most cases that rule is in play for the road team, who might be inclined to keep its veterans from making a long bus trip if they don't absolutely have to. But today, that rule could apply to the Dodgers.
This is the Dodgers' lineup as they face the Rangers on Thursday at Camelback Ranch:
Van Slyke 1B
If you are counting, that is four non-roster invitees in the starting lineup, plus another player from minor league camp in Scott Van Slyke. Of the four starters on the 40-man roster, catcher Tim Federowicz has the best chance to make the Dodgers this year while Dee Gordon, Elian Herrera, and Yasiel Puig are all probably headed for the minors to begin the season.
Chad Bilingsley starts for the Dodgers, and he counts toward the required major leaguers. Federowicz probably counts too, and an argument could be made that the 821 combined major league plate appearances in 2012 for Gordon, Herrera, and Tony Gwynn Jr. could loosely count as a regular or two.
But what is interesting is that Vin Scully is now three for three in generally weak lineups during spring training. Scully will call Thursday's game on Prime Ticket, and here are the Dodgers' starting lineups for his two previous games this spring:
That's four out of a possible 27 lineup positions occupied by planned opening day starters, and 11 out of 27 spots occupied by those likely on the opening day roster.
It's more coincidence than anything else, as manager Don Mattingly generally has his regulars play two games followed by one game off to work on technique. Couple that with various injuries, three starters currently playing in the World Baseball Classic, and the Dodgers in the middle of playing five games in three days and needing pretty much all hands on deck Wednesday and Friday, and you have Thursday's lineup.
Welcome to spring training.
Here is the Rangers' lineup against the Dodgers on Thursday:
Randy Wells is scheduled to start on the mound for Texas, and old friend Josh Lindblom will pitch the ninth inning for the Rangers if needed.