SURPRISE, Ariz. -- After 42 days of camp, the Arizona portion of spring training is over for the Dodgers. But there are still several decisions that need to be made, or at least announced in preparation for Monday's regular season opener. Here is a snapshot of where we are on Wednesday, as well as what to expect over the next four days.
The Dodgers ended the Arizona portion of their schedule with a franchise-record seventh tie of spring training, a 4-4 game against the Royals. But it could have been even more obscure for the Dodgers (16-9-7 this spring). The team took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Clayton Kershaw was still the pitcher of record after pitching his three innings.
Kershaw was in line for the win because in spring training there is no requirement for the starter to pitch five innings to qualify for the decision. Zach Lee followed with solid pitching of his own, carrying a 4-2 lead in the ninth inning. Literally the moment after the official scorer in the press box confirmed that Kershaw was the pitcher of record, meaning Lee was in line for a super rare six-inning save, Brett Eibner hit a two-run home run off Lee to tie the game.
The Dodgers made official on Wednesday the release of pitcher Dustin McGowan, who was told on Tuesday that he wouldn't make the team. McGowan was signed to a non-guaranteed deal at the major league minimum salary of $507,500. The Dodgers will owe him 45 days termination pay, approximately $124,795.
There are still 39 players technically remaining in big league camp for the Dodgers, but a lot of the clutter will be cleared up soon.
Those 39 players in camp include Brandon Beachy and Chris Withrow, both of whom are on the 60-day disabled list. Brandon League will likely soon join them, as will — at least on the 15-day version — Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenley Jansen.
The Dodgers will also at some point in the next four days reassign both Chad Gaudin and Erik Bedard, both hurt, to minor league camp.
That brings us down to 32 players effectively in camp.
We can knock that number down to 31 players in camp, since we know Mike Adams will begin the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City. The club hasn't yet officially reassigned him to the minors yet, but that is coming.
That means six more cuts will come, likely four of which are relief pitchers.
The locks, in my opinion, are J.P. Howell, Joel Peralta, Chris Hatcher and Paco Rodriguez.
Juan Nicasio, who is out of options, probably makes it too, but his salary ($2.3 million) could make it easier to send him through waivers unclaimed then keep him as highly paid minor league depth, off the 40-man roster.
McGowan gone and League potentially to the 60-day disabled list opens up two spots on the 40-man roster should the Dodgers want to add a pair of non-roster invitees from the group of David Aardsma, Sergio Santos and David Huff.
The young crew of pitchers with options — Yimi Garcia, Pedro Baez and Adam Liberatore — have all been pitching well, too, and manager Don Mattingly insists they are still in the mix.
In fact, with all of these pitchers headed to Anaheim to pitch in the Freeway Series, Mattingly says some choices haven't yet been made among the relievers.
"We're trying to take the best guys, and I don't think we're going to sacrifice," Mattingly said.
April 14 start
Joe Wieland, Lee and Carlos Frias are all still candidates to make that lone April 15 start, the first time the Dodgers need a fifth starter, though such a decision would mean one of them has to begin the season on the opening day roster, because of the 10-day rule. All three, who were optioned on March 16, have been brought up to pitch on the major league side in the last four days, with varying degrees of success.
Choosing one of those three means the Dodgers lose the opportunity to carry an extra position player for the first seven games of the season.
But if the club chose Huff to start what essentially would be a bullpen game on April 15, the club could wait to add the non-roster invitee to the roster until that day, which gives them the added flexibility of carrying the extra player. But the Huff move would only make sense if the club is convinced he would be an adequate addition to the bullpen as a long man going forward, after that one spot start.
A trade could of course happen at any moment, but until then I will stick with my thought that the five-man Dodgers bench will be A.J. Ellis, Justin Turner, Scott Van Slyke, Andre Ethier and Alex Guerrero.
That means if the Dodgers carry an extra position player for a week that Darwin Barney, Chris Heisey and Kiké Hernandez are fighting for one spot, temporary as it seems.
Six more cuts to go, before opening day rosters are due to MLB by Sunday at noon PT.