Dodgers' pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training
Club expected to look internally to replace injured Jansen at closer
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The rebuilt front office retooled the roster over the winter, and now the players take over, as Dodgers pitchers and catchers on Thursday reported for Spring Training at Camelback Ranch-Glendale.
The first workout for batteries will be Friday. Position players are due to report next Wednesday, with the first full squad workout next Thursday and the opening exhibition game Wednesday, March 4.
Leading the first wave of players was face of the franchise Clayton Kershaw, coming off his third Cy Young Award and first MVP by a Dodgers pitcher since the lefty to whom he is frequently compared, Sandy Koufax, in 1963.
"Everyone's supposed to say they're in the best shape of their life, so I guess I'm in the best shape of my life," joked Kershaw.
The only expected player that did not arrive was pitcher Joel Peralta, but he is expected in time for Friday's first workout. Although position players are not due until next week, right fielder Yasiel Puig is already working out at the complex.
The excitement of the official start of camp was somewhat tempered by the surprising news that closer Kenley Jansen will miss two to three months after undergoing surgery on Tuesday to remove a growth on his left foot.
"You don't replace a Kenley Jansen," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "You just try to hold the fort down. Kenley makes it an eight-inning game with a lead, he's so dominant. But there will be plenty of opportunities for somebody to pick up valuable outs. And it's no secret last year it was tough to bridge to Kenley, so someone getting those ninth-inning outs can build the confidence to get eighth-inning outs when Kenley gets back."
Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, said the club will probably look first internally for a replacement rather than make a quick acquisition. One likely scenario is a closer by committee, with new relievers Peralta, Chris Hatcher and Juan Nicasio joining J.P. Howell, Brandon League and Pedro Baez.
Other newcomers in camp include Yasmani Grandal, the key return in the Matt Kemp trade, who will team behind the plate with Ellis, who again is in the best shape of his life.
While Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu follow Kershaw in the rotation, they will be joined by free-agent signings Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson, who take over for Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, Roberto Hernandez and Paul Maholm.
"Some of the moves were going to happen," said Greinke. "You knew Hanley [Ramirez] would leave and Beckett would retire, so we were already going to be worse going into the winter and had to replace those guys. Some [moves] were a little surprising, but these [front-office] guys are smarter than me, and they have better information than I have. Obviously, they see something in the additions to make this a better team."