Roberts sets goals as first workout commences

Dodgers first-time manager will encourage open communication

February 20th, 2016

PHOENIX -- Many of the Dodgers have been training voluntarily at Camelback Ranch-Glendale for a week or more, but Saturday marked the first official workout for pitchers and catchers of the Dave Roberts era.

The rookie manager, his rebuilt coaching staff and a handful of new faces joined ace Clayton Kershaw, closer Kenley Jansen and other battery mainstays as the Dodgers again launched preparations in hopes of their first World Series since 1988.

"It's exciting," Roberts said after sending his squad out for the workout. "As a first-time manager, you want to control your emotions, but for the first time as manager, I'm just excited to get going and I'm sure the players are too."

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Roberts, still deferring the announcement of his Opening Day starting pitcher, watched Kershaw throw a full bullpen session. Among those who also threw were Jansen, Brett Anderson and J.P. Howell.

"I feel good," said Kershaw, who had thrown off a mound several times in Dallas before coming to Arizona. "Obviously, there's stuff to work on. But it was good."

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Position teammates report Wednesday with the first full-squad workout Thursday at the complex the Dodgers have shared with the White Sox since its opening in 2009. The first exhibition game will be between the two clubs on March 3.

Outfielder Yasiel Puig joined a group of position players that included Chase Utley, Joc Pederson, Kiké Hernandez and Scott Van Slyke in voluntary workouts Saturday.

A new manager employs some new tactics and one of the first for Roberts is Coffee With Doc -- sit-down meetings Roberts has scheduled with each player. Roberts' nickname is Doc, derived from his initials D.R.

"It's something I want to do with every player," he said. "As a player, you want to know where you stand. I believe in communication and that's the start of it. This is laying the foundation."

Roberts made his first pre-workout address to the club.

"It was just sincere as far as our goal of getting better every day," he said of his speech. "Obviously, everybody has a goal of winning a championship, but there's a lot of work from now until then that we've got to account for. That was the message."

The only expected player not in camp yet is Cuban pitcher Yaisel Sierra because of visa issues the club believes will be ironed out shortly.

Pitcher Brooks Brown has been shut down for a few days with lingering right shoulder discomfort and pitcher Josh Ravin missed Saturday's workout with the flu, but is expected back Sunday.

The most prominent newcomers are starting pitchers Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda and reliever Joe Blanton. The list of 21 non-roster invitees includes top pitching prospects Julio Urias and Jose DeLeon.

As with most Spring camps, this one will focus significantly on injury recoveries. Starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu has had a setback-free healing from shoulder labrum surgery, but he won't be rushed and most likely won't be ready for Opening Day. Third baseman Justin Turner, also pain-free, will be watched closely early as he returns from microfracture knee surgery.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal has the green light for full activity after left shoulder surgery. Hernandez is coming off right shoulder surgery and should be ready for April, while starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy is targeted for a midseason return from Tommy John surgery.