PEORIA — Andrew Toles hit a home run in the Dodgers’ 10-5 loss to the Padres at Peoria Sports Complex on Wednesday as he continues to work his way back after missing the final five months of 2017 with a torn ACL.
The Dodgers were playing things slowly with Toles through the first part of camp, waiting to see how his knee responded.
“We’re going to be a little bit more conservative on the front end,” Andrew Friedman said on the first day of camp. “It’s much more of a feel thing as we go through February and March.”
So far, Toles is feeling just fine. He hit a two-run home run in the first inning then added a sacrifice fly in the third inning against San Diego.
“He worked real hard this winter to get back. He looks strong in the box, and defensively he’s moving around,” manager Dave Roberts said. “As we get through the spring and see how he continues to recover, but from the medical and training staff he’s a full go.”
Toles has played four games in six days so far this spring training, and will continue to get work as he battles for playing time in a crowded Dodgers outfield.
“We’ll continue to run him out there and get him in some back-to-backs and see how that goes,” Roberts said.
Wilmer Font got the start on Wednesday after Hyun-jin Ryu was scratched, and he continued to do well. Font struck out the side in the first inning and four total in his two innings, allowing only a solo home run to Austin Hedges.
So far this spring Font has retired 12 of his 13 batters faced, with six strikeouts, looking like the pitcher he was in winning the 2017 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
“This is just much more indicative of what we heard about Wilmer, how his stuff plays and how he competes,” Roberts said. “He’s given us four good innings, and he’s attacking with the fastball. Today was really good, striking the breaking ball early in the count.”
Henry Owens allowed a run in the third inning in his Cactus League debut on Wednesday, but also saw signs of the control problems that plagued him in the past, walking two of his five batters faced and throwing a wild pitch.
Owens tried a delivery change to a more sidearm style midway through a tough 2017 season that saw him walk 115 batters in 126 innings between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.
“I tried not to let frustration set in and all, understanding it was a process and that it would take time to get comfortable with it,” Owens said last week. “At the same time after two months of doing it I would see spurts of success but I was battling through the majority of my outings, and the comfort level wasn’t where I needed it to be.”
Owens made the switch back to his old over-the-top delivery after the Arizona Fall League, and was happy the Dodgers made a similar recommendation after acquiring him in December.
“It was his first time facing hitters in a game, so I think it sped up on him just a little bit,” Roberts said. “There were certainly some misfires with the fastball, but there have been some good things with his side work.”
The Dodgers are back home on Thursday to face the Indians at Camelback Ranch. Old friend Stephen Fife starts for Cleveland, while Ross Stripling — assuming he wasn’t consumed by the sickness in the Dodgers clubhouse — starts for Los Angeles. No TV or radio for the 12:05 p.m. PT game.