GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For all the insistence last Spring Training from the Dodgers that they would not suffer from the so-called "World Series hangover" after losing in seven games to the Astros, that's pretty much what happened. The hope, and the goal, is that lessons learned from last year will
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For all the insistence last Spring Training from the Dodgers that they would not suffer from the so-called "World Series hangover" after losing in seven games to the Astros, that's pretty much what happened. The hope, and the goal, is that lessons learned from last year will prevent a similar occurrence this year.
"You never really want to address the elephant in the room, but from where we're at, following 2017 was a lot tougher," said manager Dave Roberts. "What we went through last year just to get back there, it was a positive season."
Five weeks into the 2018 season -- with injuries claiming Corey Seager, Justin Turner and most of the starting rotation -- the Dodgers were in last place at 8 1/2 games back. Eventually, the team got healthier and qualified for the World Series again, but it also took 163 games to win the National League West. They didn't reach first place until July. They were in third place in late August.
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"Ultimately, we didn't win a World Series, but a lot of people counted us out in April," Roberts said. "There's a little traction for our organization. That's going to be my message, positive rather than a team in disarray, hungover from the World Series. Our mindset will be a positive one."
Pitchers and catchers reported to Camelback Ranch-Glendale on Wednesday for Spring Training, with their first workout set for Thursday. Position players are due on Monday, followed by the first full-squad workout and the first Spring Training game on Saturday, Feb. 23, against the White Sox. What's the big takeaway from last year's Spring Training?
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"I would say we should learn from last year," said closer Kenley Jansen, who is coming off a second heart procedure and promises he won't be "on vacation" this spring, as he admittedly was last spring after a grueling 2017 season. "Be ready from Game 1. We need to know how important April is. Why should we make it harder on ourselves to get to first place?"
Jansen, who lost 25 pounds over the winter, said the Dodgers should approach the season like he has approached his new diet.
"Why eat bad stuff and then have to work out and play for the tie?" he said.
The Dodgers also are fending off comparisons to the NFL's Buffalo Bills, who lost four consecutive Super Bowls from 1991-94.
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"It's key not to look at losing the last two [World Series], that can wear you down," said David Freese, a midseason addition last year and one of only two current Dodgers (Joe Kelly is the other) who own a championship ring.
"Kind of wash that and turn the page and look toward 2019. We're stacked. We love who we have right now. The past two years are on everybody's minds, but we've got to look forward."
The roster has undergone more subtractions from last year than additions. Gone are Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Yasmani Grandal, Brian Dozier, Chase Utley and Ryan Madson. They've been replaced by center fielder A.J. Pollock, catcher Russell Martin and pitchers Kelly, Adam McCreery and Jaime Schultz.
"We're losing Puig and Kemp, but we're also getting Corey Seager back," Roberts said. "Pollock has been very consistent. I think offensively we'll be a lot more consistent."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.