MESA — Kyle Farmer started at third base in the Dodgers’ 8-2 win over the A’s on Tuesday afternoon at Hohokam Stadium, offering perhaps an opportunity with Justin Turner out for Farmer to strengthen his chances for making the opening day roster.
Logan Forsythe will be the regular third baseman with Turner out, but he’ll still get regular days off as everyone does. Whether that means Farmer might see an occasional start at third base remains to be seen, but he did start 26 times at the hot corner in the minors in 2017. He played all of seven innings at third base in the majors last year.
“He has the ability to play third. We’ll keep giving him at-bats and see how it looks and give him an opportunity,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s had a great camp, and we’ll see potentially if it makes sense to have him on our roster.”
Farmer is 13-for-33 (.394) this spring with three home runs, five doubles and four walks. He improved his hip flexibility in the offseason which has helped him at the plate as well as his catching. He has gone from basically a non-entity behind the plate — Farmer himself told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that in 2017 he was “the last, last resort” — to a viable third catcher this spring.
Farmer caught just 10 innings in big league camp all of last spring, with no starts. This spring Farmer has caught 32 innings and started three Cactus League games behind the plate. He has also played 35 innings at third base, including six innings at third before catching the final three innings Tuesday.
“I came into this spring training just hoping to get a few more at-bats than I did last year, and that happened,” Farmer said. “Hopefully that opens up some doors.”
Forsythe said a silver lining of the timing of Turner’s injury is that there is still time in camp to get more reps in at third base to prepare for the season.
“The injury sucks for JT, but it gives me four or five days to a week to get that reaction time back,” Forsythe said. “I know all the plays, I know all the signs. There’s not a learning curve there. It’s just a matter of getting with Woody and getting comfortable.”
Cody Bellinger might see more time batting third with Turner out, even if it means having a pair of left-handers back-to-back in the lineup with Corey Seager.
“Obviously to have a right-handed bat in between those two makes sense but if there are two guys who I feel comfortable hitting a lefty, even a lefty specialist, it’s those two guys,” Roberts said.
Bellinger batted .271/.335/.568 with 12 home runs against left-handers in 2017, and Seager hit .325/.389/.527 with eight home runs.
No matter where Bellinger bats, the set part of the lineup appears to be Chris Taylor leading off and Seager batting second.
“I really love Chris at the top of the order. I love his at-bat quality, so to know he’s going to get four or five at-bats every night I like that. He gets on base, he can slug,” Roberts said. “To have Corey at or near the top of the lineup to get that extra at-bat, we like that as well. From that point on without Justin we have to see what makes sense.”
The pitching plan for the spring is set, with Rich Hill starting in a minor league game on Thursday afternoon and Hyun-jin Ryu starting in the major league game against the Angels later that night. The Dodgers are off Wednesday.
Clayton Kershaw will start Friday then Alex Wood will pitch Saturday in Surprise to finish camp in Arizona, which lines up Kenta Maeda, Hill and Ryu to pitch in the Freeway Series.