Notes: Roberts on 2B, rotation, more
LOS ANGELES -- With three days before the opener, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts filled in some of the blanks on Monday:
• Despite giving Gavin Lux the starting second base job last September, Roberts hasn’t given it to him this year. Lux, who reported to Summer Camp late, hasn’t made much contact at the plate since in limited action. Roberts started Enrique Hernández at second base on Sunday and Chris Taylor on Monday, saying the position is “open and going to be shared.” Lux is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 1 prospect in the organization and the No. 2 prospect in the game.
“There’s a lot of things with Gavin’s swing,” Roberts said. “Need to get him more at-bats, live and simulated. [We were] getting there with his last at-bat last night, albeit a strikeout. Honestly, at second base, we have a lot of good options. Workload, matchups will certainly matter.”
• Roberts continued the organization’s reluctance to confirm probable starting pitchers, saying that Ross Stripling and Alex Wood will pitch in the four-game series against the Giants, but not saying when or confirming a fourth starter. Clayton Kershaw had already been announced as the Opening Day starter. Julio Urías is a likely fourth starter. With a day off on Monday, Roberts has indicated Walker Buehler and Dustin May might piggyback Tuesday night in Houston.
• Catcher Austin Barnes, who left Sunday night’s game shortly after being hit on the left hand by a pitch, was “a little sore” on Monday, when he wasn’t expected to start anyway. Roberts said Barnes might test the hand with batting practice, but he was able to play catch.
• Roberts said the Dodgers would carry between 15 and 17 pitchers, an unusually large gap this close to the cutdown date. In part, it’s probably due to so many pitchers (Kenley Jansen, Pedro Báez, Tony Gonsolin, Scott Alexander and AJ Ramos) showing up to Summer Camp late. In part, it’s because Buehler isn’t stretched out, and in part because of starter David Price electing not to pitch and the domino effect of picking up his innings. Jimmy Nelson’s season-ending back surgery eliminated him as a swingman option.
There’s also the uncertainty with regards to reliever Joe Kelly, who last pitched in an intrasquad game 11 days ago. Roberts said Kelly threw to hitters on Monday and will be ready for Opening Day, but his current erratic workload is starting to resemble his mysterious idling last September, when he pitched only five innings.
Roberts said Báez and Alexander threw to hitters on Monday. Báez will open the season with the Dodgers, but Roberts was unsure about the next step for Alexander, who is coming off left hand surgery. Ramos will pitch an inning in Tuesday night’s exhibition game against the Angels, which will be started by Josiah Gray.
• Despite a strong five-inning start on Sunday night, Mitch White won’t break with the big league club.
“To see him with us this season wouldn’t be a surprise,” Roberts said.