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Dodgers notes: Will Smith homers, David Price, bullpen updates

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First HR of the spring for Smith

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago White Sox Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers’ 4-3 on Wednesday over the White Sox featured a couple of firsts. Will Smith hit his first home run of the spring, in his first time playing in a game on consecutive days in 2021.

Smith started at designated hitter for the Dodgers on Wednesday, a position he started at 10 times in 2020 in the regular season and postseason combined. His home run came in the second inning against Lucas Giolito, who will start opening day for Chicago.

Home runs are nothing new for Smith, who hit 23 of them in his first 91 major league games over the last two years. In the last two seasons, Smith is a .268/.363/.574 hitter, his 144 wRC+ the highest among major league catchers with at least 300 total plate appearances.

This year, Smith has the highest projected catcher wRC+ by ZiPS and the highest DRC+ by PECOTA at Baseball Prospectus. His projected 108 wRC+ by Steamer trails only former Dodger Yasmani Grandal.

2021 catcher projections

Catcher ZiPS PECOTA Steamer Avg. wRC+/DRC+
Catcher ZiPS PECOTA Steamer Avg. wRC+/DRC+
Will Smith .241/.334/.484, 114 wRC+ .252/.349/.516, 131 DRC+ .238/.327/.465, 108 wRC+ 118
Yasmani Grandal .227/.345/.432, 108 wRC+ .235/.352/.438, 116 DRC+ .233/.350/.444, 112 wRC+ 112
J.T. Realmuto .272/.333/.490, 111 wRC+ .268/.329/.462, 114 DRC+ .261/.326/.462, 103 WRC+ 109
Willson Contreras .249/.347/.436, 106 wRC+ .249/.347/.435, 116 DRC+ .251/.343/.445, 106 wRC+ 109
Mitch Garver .233/.316/.444, 99 wRC+ .239/.324/.439, 114 DRC+ .238/.326/.439, 100 wRC+ 104
Travis d'Arnaud .264/.325/.437, 95 wRC+ .261/.327/.434, 110 DRC+ .261/.323/.445, 97 wRC+ 101
Salvador Perez .265/.294/.488, 98 wRC+ .253/.289/.459, 106 DRC+ .256/.294/.482, 98 wRC+ 101
Source: FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus

This marked the first time Smith played in back-to-back days this spring, after catching Tuesday. He and Austin Barnes have alternated starts behind the plate in Cactus League play, with Barnes hitting a double and single in three at-bats on Wednesday.

Dave Roberts said Smith will catch back-to-back games at some point soon. The catchers have been lasting deeper into games recently, with Barnes catching seven innings Wednesday and Smith seven innings on Tuesday. Last year, Smith started 41 games behind the plate in the regular season and postseason combined, with Barnes starting 35 times.

Notes

  • David Price starts for the Dodgers on Thursday at Salt River Fields against Arizona. He’s expected to pitch three innings.
  • Brusdar Graterol threw a bullpen session of roughly 25 pitches on Wednesday, and is expected to throw another bullpen session in a few days.
  • Roberts said Joe Kelly would throw a bullpen session on either Thursday or Friday.
  • Mitch White also threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, but there is no timetable yet for him to get into a game. “We’re going to keep trying to get him on the mound to face hitters,” Roberts said. “I don’t know when he’s going to be ready.”