Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Dodgers News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Raley comfortable 'back home' with Dodgers

@JakeDRill
March 1, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Typically, when a player is traded to a new team, he must then get acclimated to foreign surroundings, mostly different teammates and an unfamiliar organization.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Typically, when a player is traded to a new team, he must then get acclimated to foreign surroundings, mostly different teammates and an unfamiliar organization.

Luke Raley didn’t need to.

When the 25-year-old outfielder was traded from the Twins to the Dodgers on Feb. 10, it marked a reunion for him and the Los Angeles organization. The Dodgers drafted Raley in the seventh round in 2016, and he played in their Minor League system until he was dealt to Minnesota at the 2018 Trade Deadline in a deal that brought infielder Brian Dozier to L.A.

Now, Raley is back, returning to Los Angeles in the move that sent Kenta Maeda to Minnesota.

“Coming back, it’s like coming back home,” Raley said. “Everybody welcomed me with open arms, and I knew a lot of people still here. So it’s a pretty easy transition coming back to a team you were formerly with.”

Perhaps that’s why Raley has looked so comfortable at the plate this spring. He is batting .300 (6-for-20) with a double, a triple, a home run and five RBIs in nine Cactus League games. He homered in Saturday’s 7-4 split-squad win over the D-backs, and he was in the lineup again Sunday vs. the Rangers, when he went 0-for-2 and was hit by a pitch in an 8-6 loss.

It’s unlikely that Raley will be on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster. Los Angeles’ starting outfield is set (A.J. Pollock/Joc Pederson in left, Cody Bellinger in center and Mookie Betts in right), and Chris Taylor should also be on the team. Plus, Enrique Hernández and Matt Beaty can fill in at the corner positions.

However, Spring Training is giving manager Dave Roberts an opportunity to evaluate Raley, who will provide important depth for the club this season. Although he’s yet to make his big league debut, Raley is on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, so he could be one of the first outfielders promoted if there’s a need.

“There’s a lot to like,” Roberts said. “I just like the at-bat quality against left- and right-[handed pitchers]. With the starters, our guys who are projected to break camp with us, we’ve got some guys on the mend, so it does give us an opportunity to look at guys like Luke. We’re still mindful of not pushing him too much, or different guys, but right now, he’s getting some volume and some at-bats.”

Last year, Raley played 33 games for Triple-A Rochester, batting .302/.362/.516 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs. But he sustained a dislocated tendon in his left ankle, which required surgery that forced him to miss three months.

Raley played five games in the Gulf Coast League in late August, before then going to the Arizona Fall League for a second straight year.

This year, Raley says his ankle is 100 percent and that he has no health issues early in camp.

“Being able to go out and play and making sure your body feels comfortable, going back out and building up confidence that your body will hold up and everything like that, it’s nice to go out and be able to be at 100 percent,” Raley said, “and hopefully stay that way.”

Back with the Dodgers, Raley’s objectives for the 2020 season are simple.

“My goal is always just to go out and play hard and do the best that I can and let the results speak for themselves,” Raley said. “I’ve always believed that if you go out and work hard and play hard, then the results will come.”

It’s not like he needs to make a first impression this time.

Jake Rill is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JakeDRill.