Which Dodgers will emerge as clubhouse leaders?

February 16th, 2023

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was a lot of the same at Camelback Ranch as Dodgers pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training on Wednesday. was at his usual locker and looked as ready as ever.

But once the full squad reports to camp on Monday, things will -- for the first time in quite some time -- look much different inside the Dodgers’ clubhouse. Justin Turner won’t be walking through that door ready to welcome the team. Cody Bellinger won’t be around trying different batting stances and cracking jokes to his teammates.

“Once we get that full team meeting and look around and not see [Turner and Bellinger], it’ll be weird for sure,” Kershaw said on Wednesday.

Instead of Turner and Bellinger, the Dodgers have and young players the organization believes are ready to take the next step in their respective developments. That group, of course, is led by , who is expected to handle the everyday duties at second base. It also includes , who has plenty of Major League experience, but it’s easy to forget he’s only 25 years old.

On the pitching side, the Dodgers will turn to to indirectly replace Tyler Anderson, who had the best season of his career in 2022 and signed with the Angels this offseason. Right-handed pitching prospects Bobby Miller (No. 2 club prospect, per MLB Pipeline), Gavin Stone (No. 7) and Ryan Pepiot (No. 6) will be thrown into the mix at different points this season.

It’s going to be a new-look team, but the Dodgers believe that’ll be a positive heading into the season.

“I love the youthful enthusiasm,” said manager Dave Roberts. “Because sometimes, when you’re around something for so long, you get a little jaded and that’s human nature. But I think just to have some young guys that are just wide-eyed again, it’s just like ‘You know what, man? It is fun.’ ... So I think that’s going to filter throughout the clubhouse.”

A lack of energy during the National League Division Series against the Padres is something Roberts pointed to as a reason the Dodgers’ season came to an end after just four games in October. Maybe having new faces can help bring out the best of the veterans in the room.

Nobody will know how it plays out until the season gets underway. But one thing the Dodgers need to address is figuring out who the leader in the clubhouse will be. For years, that was Turner. He was the one in charge of taking questions from the media after tough losses. He also helped organize off-field team events in the group chat.

Kershaw admitted that he could be more of a vocal leader, but his leadership role, as he pointed out, is pretty cemented inside the Dodgers’ clubhouse with his consistency, and it has been effective for more than a decade. It could be time for   and -- the best players on the team -- to take ownership of what happens inside the clubhouse. Or maybe it comes from an unlikely source.

“There’s going to have to be some guys who step up in leadership roles,” Kershaw said. “There’s going to have to be some young guys who step up and perform well. I think there’s going to be a lot of guys that need to step up -- myself included. We’ll figure that out over spring, hopefully.”

It’ll be a process for the Dodgers as they navigate through some changes. One thing that will remain the same, however, is the expectation inside the building to win a 10th National League West title in 11 seasons. This time, they’ll have some tough competition from the Padres, who made all the shiny moves this offseason, while the Dodgers stuck to making acquisitions that improved the margins.

“I don’t really care who’s the favorite or not,” Kershaw said, when asked about possibly not being the favorites in the NL West. “Just to try to win.”