Outman makes OD roster: 'Felt like a dream'

March 23rd, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- has grown used to being called into manager Dave Roberts’ office during Spring Training. Each of the previous times, however, it came with news that he was being reassigned to Minor League camp.

This time, however, after a strong spring, Outman got the news he had been waiting for. General manager Brandon Gomes, bench coach Danny Lehmann and Roberts notified Outman that he’ll be with the Dodgers when the team takes the field on Opening Day against the D-backs.

“I was expecting to cry or something, but I didn’t,” Outman said with a smile before the Dodgers' 11-5 loss to the D-backs. “I was kind of like ‘Whoa.’ It was pretty surreal. Kind of felt like a dream, like did that really just happen?”

It did happen, and it’s all because of what Outman showed this spring. Coming into camp, Outman appeared to be on the outside looking in. With , who will also be on the Opening Day roster according to Roberts, the Dodgers had enough left-handed bats on the roster.

In order for Outman to make a roster, it had to make sense in terms of playing time. He wasn’t going to be on the Dodgers’ roster just to sit on the bench or play against the occasional right-hander. Once Gavin Lux went down with his injury, it opened the door for a left-handed bat to make this year’s club.

Outman, who went 6-for-13 in his first taste of the Majors last season, quickly turned some heads with his performance in Cactus League games and live at-bats throughout camp. He routinely displayed his power in live ABs and came into Friday’s game with an .866 OPS in 41 at-bats this spring. He ultimately forced the Dodgers’ hand and will now be part of his first Opening Day roster.

“Two years ago, I saw him in Spring Training, and I just saw the way he moved out in center field,” Roberts said. “I saw the power. I saw the physicality. And then, getting to know him, love the head, and then he went out and performed.”

The next step for the Dodgers will be finding enough at-bats to warrant having Outman on the Opening Day roster and not limiting his development by keeping him on the bench. As of now, the expectation is that Outman will play “a good bit,” according to Roberts. That will likely come against right-handers and in center field. Outman and Heyward are expected to handle most of the duties in center with Chris Taylor chipping in against lefties.

“I just want to be ready whenever my name is called,” Outman said. “So whatever that may be, if I’m starting, if I’m not starting, I still have to get in the box and I still have to put together a good at-bat. I know coming off the bench is a little more challenging. Just because you’re not necessarily in the flow of the game. I really learned that in like my first couple of Spring Trainings here, where I’d be backing up games, sit on the bench for an hour and now I have to go face 98 [mph]. But, yeah, I’ll be ready.”

With Heyward and Outman being notified that they’ll both be on the Opening Day roster, the Dodgers’ position-player side is set, barring injury. It’s a group that will rely on its stars in Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith. But it’s also a squad that has some unknown behind those three stars and Max Muncy.

The Dodgers, however, are confident they will be trotting out their best 13 players, giving them a chance to have another successful season.

“I love this group,” Roberts said. “I think that we’re equipped versus right, versus left. … I love the athletic ability. I love the veterans and the mix of youth. All that put together, I think we nailed it. Now we just have to go out and play.”