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Dodgers eager to turn focus to themselves

@kengurnick
February 18, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After spending a week venting about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, the Dodgers held their first full-squad workout of Spring Training in more than just a symbolic gesture of turning the page. Allow Clayton Kershaw, a 12-year veteran, to be the voice of reason.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After spending a week venting about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, the Dodgers held their first full-squad workout of Spring Training in more than just a symbolic gesture of turning the page.

Allow Clayton Kershaw, a 12-year veteran, to be the voice of reason.

“The only thing I’ll say now is, ‘We got a great season coming up. Everybody is really excited about baseball. Baseball is in a great spot. We got a lot of incredible players,’ ” Kershaw said. “I love baseball; I’m excited about it.”

To the immediate left of Kershaw’s locker is that of David Price, and across the room is Mookie Betts. Kershaw seems hopeful those blockbuster additions not only can push the Dodgers across the finish line in October, but change the current narrative.

“Anytime you add players of their caliber, there’s added excitement -- and we’re fired up,” Kershaw said.

“But I’m just thinking about the 12-year-old kid at home, hearing all this negative stuff. It’s hard to decipher -- it’s just a lot of negative, negative, negative. And rightfully so. It’s a lot of stuff going on that shouldn’t have happened.

“At the same time, the season’s going to happen. This team is excited. There’s going to be a lot of great baseball, and I’m fired up about it. Come March 26, we’re going to be ready to play baseball. We haven’t heard one thing about the Washington Nationals and the great run they had. Hopefully, we can get to that.”

In the first full-squad team meeting, CEO Stan Kasten addressed the offseason controversy and the need to move forward. Manager Dave Roberts said he touched on it but talked more about focus.

“Our expectations, goals, don't change, and how we go about it matters,” said Roberts. “And if you look at the last four or five years, we've won more baseball games than anyone in baseball, and that means something. And so, just the challenge of essentially putting the blinders on and now it's time to play baseball and get better each day.

Who will be on Opening Day roster?

“The things that we're talking about, I'm talking about, will be things that are relevant to 2020. So, I think that the more we focus on that, I think it lends itself to moving forward. For us as an organization, the best course of action is to kind of put it all behind us and look forward.”

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman echoed the theme.

“All we can do is control what we can to win a world championship for 2020,” Friedman said. “What I’m most focused on is our clubhouse and getting guys in the right head space to do everything they can to win in 2020. In our conversations the last few days, that is where people are going. I think that’s good for the Dodgers.”

With Price, Alex Wood and Jimmy Nelson in, but Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill out, the Dodgers will have a remodeled starting rotation behind Kershaw and Walker Buehler. Former A’s closer Blake Treinen and 21-year-old Brusdar Graterol join Joe Kelly and Pedro Báez in a bullpen headed by Kenley Jansen, looking to reclaim his All-Star form.

Betts joins an already loaded lineup that includes fellow MVP Cody Bellinger in center field, budding star Max Muncy at first base, leader Justin Turner at third base and former National League Rookie of the Year Corey Seager at shortstop. Joc Pederson and A.J. Pollock share left field. Unusual for a seven-time division winner, the Dodgers apparently will give starting jobs to a pair of youngsters, catcher Will Smith and second baseman Gavin Lux.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.