It took the Dodgers six games into their Cactus League schedule, but they finally achieved the ultimate spring training result on Thursday, tying the Diamondbacks 5-5 at Camelback Ranch.
World Baseball Classic-bound players leave camp early next week, so there are only a few games left before leaving. Three WBC-bound Dodgers all had hands in an early offensive outburst on Thursday.
Austin Barnes doubled and scored in the third inning. David Peralta walked and scored in the first. He came home on a home run by Freddie Freeman.
Freddie doing Freddie things. pic.twitter.com/bUmeIUlbJi— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 2, 2023
Freeman also doubled home a run in the second. The first baseman has played in four of the six Dodgers games so far this spring, batting a total of ten times. All three of his hits have gone for extra bases, including a home run in the spring opener last Saturday.
A(nother) walk to remember
Miguel Vargas has started four of six games so far, with the express purpose of getting him acclimated at second base, a relatively new position for the hitting savant who played mostly third base in the minors. Those 19 defensive innings thus far for Vargas were the main thrust of keeping him in the lineup, despite the hairline fracture in his right pinkie.
The Dodgers haven’t yet let him swing yet during games, but despite the restriction Vargas has walked four times in eight plate appearances this spring. Each game for Vargas has followed the same pattern, with a walk in his first trip to the plate, then a strikeout in his second plate appearance.
While it’s fun to point out that Vargas only had half as many walks (two) in his first stint in the majors last season, in 50 plate appearances, it’s not as if he’s a free swinger, at least when he’s allowed to do so. Vargas had a 13.7-percent walk rate as a 22-year-old for Triple-A Oklahoma City, well above the 10.5-percent league-wide walk rate in the Pacific Coast League.
The long road back
Walker Buehler still has a lengthy rehab ahead of him as he recovers from Tommy John surgery and flexor tendon repair last August. But Wednesday marked an important step in that recovery, as he threw for the first time — with his right hand, at least — since the procedure.
#Dodgers Walker Buehler began his throwing program Wednesday. Played catch from 60 feet. Limited number of throws— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) March 2, 2023
The Dodgers had east across the valley to face the Angels in Tempe on Friday (12:10 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA). It’s a battle of 2022 All-Star teammates on the mound to start things, with Tony Gonsolin starting for Los Angeles against old friend Tyler Anderson.