PHOENIX — Wednesday was the first day of pitchers and catchers workouts at Dodgers camp, and closer Kenley Jansen was among those who threw a bullpen session at Camelback Ranch.
But before he took the mound Jansen took aim at the pace of play initiatives bandied about by commissioner Rob Manfred, including a pitch clock and limits on mound visits.
“That’s ridiculous. Football is four hours, four and a half hours. The Super Bowl was five hours,” Jansen said. “Baseball fans aren’t going to stop watching because the game is too long.”
The average MLB game time in 2017 was three hours, eight minutes, the highest number in history. It was the sixth straight year of games averaging at least three hours, and beat the previous record of 3:07 set in 2014.
Jansen instead offered that the pace of play has been negatively affected by changes in hitting styles, and facing pitchers who were rushed before mastering their pitches.
“Everybody wants to swing for the fences. There’s a lot more strikeouts, and a lot of walks,” Jansen said. “You can put all these changes in, but if pitchers cannot command their pitches the game is going to be longer.”
Speaking of slowing things down, the Dodgers won’t push Jansen this spring. The plan for Jansen and other pitchers is to have a reduced workload in the preseason, leaving plenty in the tank for the regular season and beyond.
“We talked about it in November, with our training staff, Honey and Doc, about our pitchers. Obviously when you play an extra month, and have designs on playing an extra month this year as well, it’s just being mindful of it,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “Spring training is a good length for starting pitchers and there is not a lot of wiggle room, but with relievers there is.”
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum will hold a workout in Seattle on Thursday, and Friedman said the Dodgers will have representation on hand to watch the right-hander. Lincecum is looking to make a comeback after not pitching in 2017. He posted a 9.16 ERA in 38⅓ innings with the Angels in 2016 and from 2012-16 with the Giants and Angels had a 4.94 ERA in 654 innings, a 72 ERA+.
There will reportedly be at least 10 teams on hand to watch Lincecum on Thursday per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Lincecum turns 34 in June.
Man of steal
I told catcher Yasmani Grandal that various projection systems have him slated for exactly one stolen base in 2018, which would match his total for the previous three seasons combined. He offered a possible scenario as to how the steal might happen.
“Maybe in a game where we’re up 4-0, 5-0 in the fifth inning. Two outs and the guy has two strikes,” Grandal explained. “If I go and he doesn’t swing and I get thrown out, he at least gets his at-bat back the next inning. If I steal and he gets a base hit then I have a chance to score.”
Grandal stole a career-high three bases in 2014 with the Padres, but only has four steals in his career.
“I stole [three] bases the year I came off of knee surgery, just trying to prove a point. Other than that I don’t win games by running,” he said. “I win games by calling a good game, getting on base and hitting homers. In my opinion if I get to steal a base this year, whenever that is, great. If not, it’s not like I’m going to go 20-20.”
Quote of the day
Friedman referenced the Rodney Dangerfield classic ‘Back to School’ in describing the Dodgers’ longshot efforts to try to retain pitcher Yu Darvish while also remaining under the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold for 2018.
“We knew that it was going to require a Triple Lindy of sorts, so any time that is a factor it just reduced the chances,” Friedman said.