PHOENIX — Thursday was only the 11th day of Dodgers spring training camp for position players, though several were here before their required reporting date. Not much has changed in the battle of left field.
“We knew we had some very good options, and that’s kind of the way it’s played out up to this point,” Roberts said.
Matt Kemp made his fourth start in left field on Thursday, and has played every other day through the first week of games. Kemp singled in three at-bats against Cleveland, but the Dodgers are more concerned with how he looks in the field, after struggling the last three seasons. Kemp played six innings in left field Thursday, and he leads the team with 21 defensive innings played at the position this spring.
“We’re too early to make any kind of judgment right now,” Roberts said. “But he is moving considerably better than I recall the last couple years.”
Andrew Toles has looked healthy after rehabbing from his torn ACL, and has played 13 innings in left field this spring. Kike Hernandez, who plays everywhere, has yet to play in the outfield this spring, playing second base and shortstop in his three games. He was among the group knocked out a few days with the illness spreading through the Dodgers clubhouse.
The Dodgers taking things slow with Corey Seager‘s elbow has opened up playing time at shortstop, where Chris Taylor has played 15 innings. That made time in center field for Joc Pederson to get the bulk of his playing time in with 23 innings to date.
Trayce Thompson is out of options but in the mix, and has played five innings in left field and 10 innings in right field. He has been out the last two days as well. Alex Verdugo is in the conversation at least and has played all over the outfield, with six innings in left field, nine in center and seven innings in right.
No matter how it shakes out, there figures to be multiple contributors in left field once the regular season begins.
“I wouldn’t say a strict platoon, but I do see the playing time broken up. It’s just our philosophy of keeping guys involved and keeping guys current,” Roberts said. “If you’re looking at a position where the talent is pretty similar across the board and how you can utilize those guys the best and the most, that’s what we believe.”
In 2017 the Dodgers used 16 different players in left field, including six players making at least 12 starts at the position.
Unfit to be tied
The Indians rallied for six runs in the eighth inning to erase a 7-1 deficit on Thursday, then scored the go-ahead run in the ninth. In the bottom of the inning Travis Taijeron walked and with two outs Keibert Ruiz singled to left off the glove of third baseman Giovanny Urshela.
Third base coach Chris Woodward sent Taijeron home only to see him thrown out with relative ease. The valiant effort to secure another tie was thwarted, with Cleveland prevailing 8-7.
Clayton Kershaw is back on the hill for the Dodgers on Friday afternoon, making his second start of the spring, this time against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch. The Dodgers are the road team in his contest, the second of four games against their spring co-tenants in the Cactus League.
The 12:05 p.m. PT game will be televised by SportsNet LA, the first of three straight games simulcast on both television and 570 AM, with Charley Steiner and Rick Monday on the call.