SAN DIEGO -- Dave Roberts wasn't kidding during Spring Training when he envisioned deploying numerous leadoff hitters in his first season as Dodgers manager.After using seven players in the top spot in Cactus League play, Roberts put 37-year-old Chase Utley at the top for his club's 15-0 Opening Day win over
SAN DIEGO -- Dave Roberts wasn't kidding during Spring Training when he envisioned deploying numerous leadoff hitters in his first season as Dodgers manager.
After using seven players in the top spot in Cactus League play, Roberts put 37-year-old Chase Utley at the top for his club's 15-0 Opening Day win over the Padres on Monday. Utley didn't hurt his case, doubling in a two-run first inning, but Roberts may still go another route on Tuesday, and so on, and so on.
Carl Crawford (9-for-18 lifetime against Padres starter Tyson Ross) led the Dodgers this spring, batting leadoff 13 times, but he was hitting sixth on Monday. Roberts said the leadoff spot is for the hitter in the lineup he wants to get an extra at-bat in that game.
Utley has a .365 career on-base percentage, but it was only .286 in an injury-plagued 2015 season. He's led off only 11 games in his career and did so only twice this spring.
Rookie Corey Seager batted second only twice in his injury-abbreviated Cactus League season, but that's where Roberts had him for Game 1. In that spot, Seager followed Utley's first-inning double with one of his own, giving Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers an early lead. It sounds like Seager might bat in that spot for a while, too.
"He hit third in the postseason last year on the biggest stage; this shouldn't be that big of a deal, and I think he can handle it," Roberts said of the demands of a No. 2 hitter. "I want him up there an extra time against right-handed pitching and left-handed pitching. Can he settle in there? I don't see why he couldn't."
Roberts seems settled on Justin Turner batting third and Adrian Gonzalez fourth, regardless of the pitcher. Although Yasiel Puig hit second more than in any other spot (10 times) during Spring Training, Roberts had Puig fifth on Monday, protecting Gonzalez.
Although the Dodgers face right-handed starting pitching in their first five games of the season, Roberts said he was likely to start right-handed hitters Scott Van Slyke, Kiké Hernandez and Trayce Thompson during that period.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.