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Dodgers' Opening Day roster bursting at seams

Kemp's spring success makes outfield more crowded
MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When the Dodgers opened Spring Training, outfielder Matt Kemp had something to prove and free-agent signee Tom Koehler had a bullpen spot.

Two weeks into Cactus League games, Kemp seems to have earned at least a share of the left-field job (if he isn't traded), and Koehler has his right arm in a sling indefinitely.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When the Dodgers opened Spring Training, outfielder Matt Kemp had something to prove and free-agent signee Tom Koehler had a bullpen spot.

Two weeks into Cactus League games, Kemp seems to have earned at least a share of the left-field job (if he isn't traded), and Koehler has his right arm in a sling indefinitely.

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Otherwise, the starting rotation and catching are set. So is the infield, as long as Corey Seager's right elbow cooperates. The most robust competition is for the left-field spot and now the bullpen with Koehler's slot unexpectedly available. Here's a look at where the Dodgers' 25-man Opening Day roster stands.

Catcher (2): Yasmani Grandal, Austin Barnes
Despite an 0-for-11 spring start, Grandal's bat has caught fire -- and he has the added motivation of pending free agency. Meanwhile, although Barnes emerged as the postseason starter by outplaying Grandal down the stretch, he showed up with a sore right elbow and only recently has been able to throw in games. A platoon is the likely result.

Video: Outlook: Barnes could get more playing time in '18

First base (1): Cody Bellinger
Bellinger's disappointing postseason has carried over to this spring, as he's batting .208 with nine strikeouts in 24 at-bats. He bulked up in the offseason to avoid the dreaded sophomore jinx.

Second base (1): Logan Forsythe, Chase Utley
Forsythe made late-season swing adjustments that have the club convinced he will provide more offense this year, which is why it picked up his option. Utley is the clubhouse role model.

Third base (1): Justin Turner
The complete package: Clutch hitter, ironclad defender, silently plays hurt, a respected clubhouse presence.

Shortstop (1): Seager
Seager's elbow will be a constant concern, but his bat is awakening.

Utility (1): Enrique Hernandez
Hernandez can play all over the diamond and can hit any left-handed pitcher.

Outfield (5): Yasiel PuigChris Taylor, Kemp, Andrew Toles, Joc Pederson, Trayce Thompson
Puig will start in right, Taylor in center, then it gets fuzzy. Kemp's offense should outweigh defensive slippage. Toles appears completely recovered from major knee surgery. Alex Verdugo is doing everything he didn't do in his September callup. Pederson is struggling again at the plate. Thompson is hitting for average, but not power.

Video: LAD@COL: Puig plates Kemp with a hard-hit double

Starting pitching (5): Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu
They seem set, but Walker Buehler looks ready if the club can keep him healthy in the Minors. The same was said a year ago with Julio Urias, but he blew out his left shoulder.

Bullpen (8):  Kenley Jansen, Scott Alexander, Tony Cingrani, Ross Stripling
They're in. Adam Liberatore, J.T. Chargois, Pedro Baez, Josh Fields, Wilmer Font and Yimi Garcia will battle for the remaining spots. In theory, Alexander proves to be an upgrade from Luis Avilan, but Koehler's injury means they're still looking for the next Brandon Morrow. It might be Chargois. As always, Baez is the wild card.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. Listen to his podcast.

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