PHOENIX — The Dodgers head back to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale Friday afternoon, this time to play the Diamondbacks. Though he was optioned to the minors on Monday, Walker Buehler gets the start on Friday and is expected to pitch two innings.
Here are some notes from the last few days of camp:
Kenley Jansen proclaimed himself ready to go after making his Cactus League debut on Thursday against the Royals. He threw 13 pitches in a perfect inning with one strikeout. “The thing that was pleasantly surprising was his velocity, which touched 94,” Dave Roberts said.
Jansen will next pitch on Saturday, and will likely pitch in back-to-back games during the Freeway Series.
Josh Fields also made his Cactus League debut Thursday with a perfect inning, after just pitching in a pair of B games all spring. Like a handful of relievers, the Dodgers are taking it slow this spring with the big picture in mind.
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“Our offseason was cut short by a month. They told me in the offseason just to wait to start even playing catch again,” Fields said. “They’ve done a great job of saving bullets for the guys who will pitch so long.”
Hyun-jin Ryu starts for the Dodgers on Saturday, then on Sunday the club will go with Clayton Kershaw at Camelback Ranch. The Dodgers might choose to have Kershaw pitch in a minor league game rather than give the division-rival Padres a free extra look, which seems an awful lot of attention paid to a non-contender.
The Dodgers similarly had Alex Wood pitch in a minor league game Wednesday rather than against the Rockies, and had Kenta Maeda pitch in a minor league game Thursday instead of against Arizona today.
Another main reason to pitch on the back fields is to ensure a more controlled environment to allow starting pitchers to build up their innings, really the main purpose of such a long spring training. Big innings in games that (sort of) matter tend to thwart such progress, as was the case Thursday when Rich Hill recorded only one out in a 35-pitch first inning on a windy day at Camelback Ranch. Hill called his performance “horseshit” and “completely unacceptable” after an otherwise strong spring.
“He just didn’t have his command,” Roberts said of Hill, who was able to throw three more simulated innings in the bullpen after leaving the game.
Corey Seager starts at shortstop for the Dodgers on Friday in his Cactus League debut, part of what looks an awful lot like an opening day lineup.
Sunday is a split squad day, and Manny Banuelos will start the road game against the Brewers.
Dylan Baker will pitch in relief for the Dodgers on Friday, making his Cactus League debut. He was sidelined for a few weeks with tightness in his lat, after a myriad of injuries limited him to just 74 innings pitched over the last four years.
“It definitely sucks with all the injuries that I’ve had. But I can get through it like I have before. I want to pitch more and I want to been healthy and not feel anything every day,” Baker said. “That’s kind of been the thing for me the last few years. I think I’m on the right track, I’m not really worried about it.”
Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks
Time: 1:10 p.m. PT
Location: Salt River Fields
Streaming: MLBtv (D-backs broadcast)