It’s usually important to contextualize the environment, especially when optimism abounds during the first week of spring training. A few such stories arose in the last few days regarding new Dodgers in their 30s.
On Friday, manager Dave Roberts said there was an “uptick” in velocity from Noah Syndergaard, though Roberts did not say what those numbers were. Jack Harris at the Los Angeles Times has more.
Improving fastball velocity is a stated goal for Syndergaard, whose four-seamer averaged 94.1 mph and two-seamer averaged 93.6 mph, both about three to four ticks down from his days with the Mets before his March 2020 Tommy John surgery. He worked with Tread Athletics in North Carolina and Driveline Baseball in Arizona during the offseason, trying to improve his mechanics and up his velocity.
Syndergaard said he signed his one-year, $13.5-million contract with the Dodgers in part because of their pitching coaches and research and development staff.
“I feel like everything they touch turns to gold,” Syndergaard said in December.
Then there’s Heyward, a non-roster invitee in Dodgers camp, looking to rebound after the last two terrible, injury-plagued seasons with the Cubs, hitting .211/.280/./326 with nine home runs and a 67 wRC+ in 152 games since the start of 2021.
His recent swing adjustments were a topic of discussion on Saturday morning.
#Dodgers Dave Roberts said the changes Heyward has made are “significant” and he plans to get him plenty of ABs in games this spring even if they come on the back fields in minor league games— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) February 18, 2023
More from Roberts, as well as Freddie Freeman chiming in on Heyward, his teammate for five years in Atlanta after both being drafted by the Braves in 2007, come from Jesse Borek at MLB.com:
“Intangibles of what a guy like J-Hey does, I already know the value,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I’m very bullish on the swing, the player, the person and how he’s going to help our ballclub this year.”
“He’s been putting in the work. I love his adjustments,” Freeman said of Heyward’s swing, going on to pantomime how his hand placement has been adjusted. “It’s a big difference. He has a better chance to get to the ball. Everyone is very happy with his adjustments.”