The headline-grabbing stories from Thursday were Walker Buehler getting named for his first opening day start and Dave Roberts guaranteeing a Dodgers World Series win this year, then doubling down on his prediction after the game.
That game, by the way, against the Rockies, ended in a 6-6 tie, the third Dodgers tie in seven spring games.
But a few other nuggets of news happened yesterday as well.
Roberts also said Thursday morning that Mookie Betts would bat leadoff this season, the spot in the batting order Betts has batted the most in his career. Since joining the Dodgers, Betts has batted first in 176 of his 199 starts (88.4 percent) in the regular season and postseason combined.
Here’s Roberts, from Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com: “I think if you look at Trea and Mookie — which I think that they’re interchangeable as far as first, second and third [spot in order], with Freddie [Freeman] obviously mixed in there — Mookie feels considerably more comfortable in the [leadoff spot].”
Early on in spring, Roberts mentioned that it would be unlikely for Caleb Ferguson and Tommy Kahnle, both recovering from 2020 Tommy John surgery, to make the opening day roster. Since then, Ferguson has pitched in two Cactus League games, including on Thursday. Kahnle has been limited to the back fields, making it all but certain he won’t be ready by April 8.
From Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register:
“I don’t want to put a hard date for Tommy,” Roberts said. “He hasn’t faced hitters yet. He hasn’t done the back to back. So there’s boxes that we need to check.
“But as far as how he feels, how the ball’s coming out — it’s a plus-fastball with command, it’s a Bugs Bunny changeup and he’s got a cutter. Once he’s right he’s gonna be a leverage guy for us.”
- “I think the timing is just perfect,” said Roberts on Buehler starting opening day, per Plunkett.
- The best batting average in baseball since the start of 2020 (.330) combined with the top sprint speed in MLB makes Trea Turner a prime candidate to win another batting title, writes Manny Randhawa at MLB.com.
- The Effectively Wild podcast at FanGraphs previewed the National League West.