Puig tops Dodgers' rebound wish list

Ryu, Grandal, Utley, Crawford among others eyeing '16 bouncebacks

February 9th, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training next week. In anticipation, Dodgers.com presents a series of articles previewing preparations for the 2016 season.

The first installment is "On the Rebound," covering players coming off injuries or disappointing 2015 seasons.

• Dodgers Spring Training info

OF Yasiel Puig: New manager Dave Roberts gets his shot at reining in the multi-talented but undisciplined Puig, who alienated the previous regime with his antics. Offseason talking points have centered on Puig's conditioning and physique because of last year's injuries, although that doesn't address the behavior issues that have defined him. That said, he can be a difference-maker when the planets align.

LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu: No setbacks so far, but it's asking a lot for a pitcher to immediately regain form after missing an entire season because of shoulder surgery. Management believes it has the starting depth to ease Ryu back with lowered expectations, even though he's determined to be ready when the season starts.

C Yasmani Grandal: An All-Star the first half, his bat disappeared down the stretch, and the blame was placed on an arthritic left shoulder that was surgically repaired. Grandal, 27, not only must bounce back from that, but shake growing evidence that he's injury prone.

INF Chase Utley: The club is betting $7 million that 2015 was an injury-marred aberration for Utley, even though he's now 37. He projects as a rotational partner with second baseman Howie Kendrick and third baseman Justin Turner. It was only 2014 when he drove in 78 runs.

OF Carl Crawford: Once one of the game's true power/speed talents, Crawford hasn't had a full, healthy season since 2010. The Dodgers would settle for a platoon year like he had in 2014, but his numbers generally are trending in the wrong direction.

OF Joc Pederson: He was a first-half sensation, but the rookie crashed and burned down the stretch, unable to adjust. Management is hoping new hitting coaches can get Pederson back to that 30/30 quality he showed at Triple-A in 2014 and away from the boom-or-bust slugger he became last year.

RHP Brandon Beachy: The team and player are persistent in this recovery, even though it is now four years and two Tommy John surgeries removed from his flash of brilliance in Atlanta.