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Farmer getting more comfortable behind plate

Third-string catcher having fine spring defensively and offensively
MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kyle Farmer shares a Chase Utley anecdote that explains just how little the Dodgers trusted their third-string catcher behind the plate last season.

"I was definitely the last, last resort," Farmer said. "We were in New York, and [Yasmani Grandal] was hurt, [Austin] Barnes got hit on the hand and they were, like, surrounding me and telling me what to do. And then I heard Chase was back in the batting cage trying on catcher's gear. Like, that's great. But I think they've become more comfortable with it."

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kyle Farmer shares a Chase Utley anecdote that explains just how little the Dodgers trusted their third-string catcher behind the plate last season.

"I was definitely the last, last resort," Farmer said. "We were in New York, and [Yasmani Grandal] was hurt, [Austin] Barnes got hit on the hand and they were, like, surrounding me and telling me what to do. And then I heard Chase was back in the batting cage trying on catcher's gear. Like, that's great. But I think they've become more comfortable with it."

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Nobody thought Farmer had much of a chance at making the Dodgers' Opening Day roster, but even the third-string catcher is pleased with the extended look he's getting. Meanwhile, manager Dave Roberts said the club would carry either seven or eight relievers, after earlier calling eight a "benchmark." Carrying seven would open a fifth bench job for someone like Farmer.

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In addition to catcher, Farmer has played the infield corner positions this spring, and he believes he can still play shortstop if needed.

To better himself for catching, he's made his hips more flexible, not only to better frame marginal pitches but to smother those in the dirt.

"Last year, blocking [pitches] was a struggle for me," Farmer said. "Last year I was worried about them throwing in the dirt. Now I'm, like, begging them to throw it in the dirt. And they're seeing me become more comfortable with the pitching staff."

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Offensively, Farmer is having a huge spring, batting .444 with seven extra-base hits (tied for the club lead) and a team-high 1.455 OPS. That includes a double on Sunday.

Marathon selects Turner's foundation
Justin Turner was given the day off to fly home for the Los Angeles Marathon, which selected the Justin Turner Foundation as one of its official charities. The Justin Turner Foundation will use the event to raise funds to help individuals and families in need.

"I think it's great," said Roberts. "He's obviously done a lot for the city, and talking about the workload, I've tried to give certain guys a couple days to be away. Justin wants to take his personal day to do stuff for the community, and I think that's fantastic."

Rios keeps raking
Edwin Rios continued his Cactus League tour of clearing center-field batter's eyes with a blast over the one in Maryvale against the Brewers, one day after launching one out of Camelback Ranch Stadium.

Video: LAD@MIL: Rios skies a dinger to deep center

Rios, who slugged 24 homers splitting time last season between Triple-A and Double-A, has three homers this spring and a 1.349 OPS.

Joc Pederson was the only Dodger in the Maryvale game with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.

Sweet return
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt is expected back in camp on Monday after spending the past week at home for personal reasons.

Camp battle
In the home game, Enrique Hernandez started in left field and went 1-for-2 with a run scored; Trayce Thompson came off the bench and went 0-for-1 with a strikeout. In the road game, Matt Kemp started in left field and went 1-for-2 with an RBI on a sacrifice fly and a strikeout; Pederson started in center field and went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored; Alex Verdugo went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Bullpen update
In the game at Maryvale, Josh Fields and Tony Cingrani each threw a scoreless inning. But at Camelback Ranch, Adam Liberatore allowed a solo home run and Yimi Garcia escaped with a pair of strikeouts after allowing two hits and a walk in his inning.

Video: SD@LAD: Garcia induces ground out with bases loaded

Up next
Alex Wood starts on Monday night at 7:05 PT against Kendall Graveman and the Oakland A's at Camelback Ranch. Watch the game on MLB.TV.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Kyle Farmer