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Rookie manager eager to put plan in motion

Roberts, Friedman lay out Spring Training strategy
MLB.com @kengurnick

PHOENIX -- After pitchers and catchers reported Friday, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and new manager Dave Roberts gave an idea of what Spring Training will be like for a few of them.

Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu will be eased back from left shoulder surgery, a nice way of saying he probably won't be in the starting rotation when the regular season opens. Third baseman Justin Turner might be limited early in camp as he recovers from left knee microfracture surgery, while catcher Yasmani Grandal is a full go, having healed from left shoulder surgery.

PHOENIX -- After pitchers and catchers reported Friday, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and new manager Dave Roberts gave an idea of what Spring Training will be like for a few of them.

Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu will be eased back from left shoulder surgery, a nice way of saying he probably won't be in the starting rotation when the regular season opens. Third baseman Justin Turner might be limited early in camp as he recovers from left knee microfracture surgery, while catcher Yasmani Grandal is a full go, having healed from left shoulder surgery.

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Roberts all but confirmed that Clayton Kershaw will start Opening Day, but wouldn't go beyond that in listing an order for the rest of the rotation with former No. 2 Zack Greinke now Arizona's Opening Day starter.

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Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, Brett Anderson and Alex Wood will follow Kershaw in some order, with accommodations made for matchups, April days off, as well as Maeda's transition from once-a-week duty in Japan to the five-day cycle of the Major Leagues. Maeda has told the club he wants to assimilate by adapting to Major League training routines.

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Roberts also sidestepped batting order specifics or naming names when asked for contenders to bat leadoff, but indicated that it's more likely to be a rotation than a permanent job the way it was for him when he played "because of the way that the game has evolved," meaning metrics and matchups.

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"Players are starting to understand their strengths and weaknesses," he said. "Nowadays it's another spot in the order, where a typical leadoff hitter doesn't have to be a Brett Butler at the top."

Roberts said he watched Ryu throw a "low-intensity" bullpen session Thursday and expects him to pitch in Spring Training games at some point, but wouldn't put a timetable on that. Friedman went even further in lowering early expectations for Ryu, who missed the 2015 season after labrum repair.

"We're going to take the long view to put him in the best possible position to once he comes back he stays back," Friedman said. "Emotionally, we want him to be ready Opening Day. But it's important to do it the right way and in a way that when he's back, he's back for good. It's just appreciating the bigger picture."

Turner has had no setbacks after resuming running and Friedman expects him to be ready for Opening Day, but added that his workload will be watched early in camp.

"Every checkpoint has gone really, really well," Friedman said.

Friedman said he is optimistic that Cuban pitcher Yaisel Sierra will have visa issues cleared up as early as Saturday. Sierra, who signed a six-year, $30 million deal, is the only player from the group of pitchers and catchers yet to report.

Friedman also said pitcher Frankie Montas, who had a rib removed this week and will be sidelined up to four months, did not have thoracic outlet syndrome. Montas complained of discomfort during winter workouts that was diagnosed as a stress reaction.

"There was no vascular issue," Friedman said. "It took time to figure out the right treatment."

Micah Johnson, an infielder not required to report until next week, checked in with the first bizarre injury of the spring after needing four stitches in his left hand to close a knife wound suffered while cutting an avocado. He is day to day.

As for his rookie manager, Friedman said the biggest challenge facing Roberts is juggling the "relentless" responsibilities the job entails.

But he said Roberts and Joe Maddon, Friedman's rookie manager in Tampa Bay, both share "incredible communication skills that help slow the game down some. Guys appreciate the honesty."

Roberts said the biggest challenge for him is not to micromanage, but to let his support staff "do their jobs." He said he cast a wide net seeking offseason counsel from a group that included Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, former Padres manager Bud Black (now working in the Angels' front office), Indians manager Terry Francona and Indians president and CEO Mark Shapiro.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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