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Phil Bickford catching up from arm soreness, unlikely for opening day

Bickford hasn’t yet pitched in a Cactus League game

Los Angeles Dodgers Photo Day Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Phil Bickford hasn’t pitched in a Cactus League game this spring, which is why I didn’t include him on my opening day roster prediction on Monday. On Tuesday, manager Dave Roberts told reporters at Camelback Ranch in Arizona that Bickford was too far behind schedule to likely be ready by opening day.

It’s unknown how long the delay will sideline Bickford to open the season, but given that injured list stints for pitchers are now 15 games, and that an IL stint could be backdated by at most three days before the start of the season, the earliest Bickford could be activated from the injured list would be April 19. That would mean a minimum of 10 games missed at the start of the season.

Bickford was a bright spot in 2021, one of the most unexpected members of a deep and effective Dodgers bullpen. Claimed off waivers in May, the former first-round pick with two major league games on his ledger was rock solid with Los Angeles, with a 2.50 ERA and 29.5-percent strikeout rate in 56 games and 50⅓ innings.

Dodgers-A’s lineups

Pos A's Pos Dodgers
Pos A's Pos Dodgers
LF McKinney (L) SS Turner
C Vogt (L) 1B Freeman (L)
RF Laureano 3B Turner
DH Thames (L) DH Muncy (L)
2B Lopes C Smith
1B Kelly (L) LF Taylor
3B Neuse CF Bellinger (L)
RF Pache 2B Lux (L)
SS Smith RF Pillar
Tony Gonsolin vs. Sean Manaea on the mound

Bickford won’t be pitching for the Dodgers against the A’s on Tuesday night at Camelback Ranch, but both Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson will be on the mound. Gonsolin is starting, with Anderson following in relief, which could be the left-hander’s role to start the season.

Both pitched three innings last Thursday.

Daniel Hudson and Justin Bruihl are also slated to pitch in relief for the Dodgers.

Old friend alerts

Billy McKinney starts in left field and bats leadoff for the A’s on Tuesday night, with Sheldon Neuse batting seventh and starting at third base. The two 27-year-olds were born a few months apart in 1994, and were teammates for all of four days on the Dodgers active roster last July.

McKinney was traded by the Dodgers to the Rangers last November, but was then non-tendered at the end of the month. He’s back with Oakland, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2013, this year on a minor league deal. Neuse was claimed off waivers by the A’s from the Dodgers on March 16, ending a lockout-extended 104-day limbo after getting designated for assignment.

Sean Manaea starts on the mound for Oakland.

Spring training Game 12 info

  • Teams: Dodgers vs. A’s
  • Location: Camelback Ranch, Glendale, Arizona
  • Time: 6:05 p.m. PT
  • TV: SportsNet LA