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Jimmy Nelson ready for any role, as long as he’s healthy

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Nelson struck out 3 in 2 scoreless innings in Tuesday’s start

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Cincinnati Reds Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Nelson continued to impress in Dodgers camp, but most importantly he is feeling healthier than he has been the last few seasons.

Nelson missed all of 2018 after right shoulder surgery and was limited to 22 innings in 2019 with Milwaukee. After signing with the Dodgers last year he was injured off and on during spring training and eventually had back surgery in July, wiping out his 2020 season before it began.

“Last year, after an outing or bullpen, he didn’t respond well,” manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday. “Hopefully, our expectations are that he’ll come out feeling good, and we can continue to build him up.”

Nelson retired all six batters he faced against the Reds on Tuesday at Goodyear, striking out three. He needed only 20 pitches.

“I was feeling really good coming into spring training, with my offseason bullpens and my work, so just continuing from that,” Nelson said after his outing. “It’s just step by step, but my body’s been bouncing back well and physically I’m feeling really good.”

Nelson this time around is on a minor league contract, though Roberts made sure from the beginning of spring training to mention Nelson as one of the eight major league starting pitchers the team has in camp.

Nelson has started both of his Cactus League games so far — he allowed a hit and an unearned run in one inning last Thursday — but, like David Price, said he’s open to pitching either as a starter or in relief.

“Any role they want me to do, I don’t think it will be an issue physically,” Nelson said. “I just want to pitch in and help us win. Whatever role that is, I’m open to anything.”

Trimming soon

The Dodgers, who are off on Saturday, expect to make several roster cuts this weekend. The issue has been figuring out just how the affected players will get the reps they need on the minor league side of camp, how games will be organized since this isn’t a normal spring training.

“We’re going to thin the room out. I think it’s important for the focus to kind of get a little bit more narrow,” Roberts said. “It’s going to be a significant number, come Monday morning.”

The Mets, for reference, reassigned 19 players to minor league camp on Tuesday.

Notes

  • Chris Taylor has yet to single in his 11 trips to the plate so far this spring. But he has homered twice, doubled, and walked, including a two-run shot on Tuesday against Braden Shipley.
  • Catcher Keibert Ruiz, who was late reporting to camp after visa issues coming from Venezuela, caught a few bullpen sessions Tuesday, and could be in a Cactus League game by the end of the week. “I’ll talk to the training staff, medical staff to see where he’s at. But obviously, I’d like to get him in there as soon as possible.”
  • Brusdar Graterol is expected to throw a bullpen session within the next few days.
  • Omar Estevez, who started at shortstop, singled and scored on Tuesday, played four innings in left field on Sunday, his first time in the outfield as a professional. It was his idea. “You look at what we’ve done with guys like Kiké [Hernández] and Chris Taylor, and how valuable they can be. Omar has that same skillset,” Roberts said of the 23-year-old infielder from Cuba. “I applaud him for initiating that conversation. Now it’s our job to make sure we move him around the diamond.”
  • Clayton Kershaw starts for the Dodgers on Wednesday night, hosting the Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch, a 5:05 p.m. PT start.