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Dodgers head to camp with unfinished business

Team focused on staying sharp in spring while emphasizing rest
MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday and hold their first Spring Training workout on Wednesday, 15 weeks after losing Game 7 of the World Series.

Manager Dave Roberts said he's mindful of striking a balance between preparing this club for Opening Day 2018 while not asking too much from too many with so little time to rebound from the successful-but-draining 2017 season.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday and hold their first Spring Training workout on Wednesday, 15 weeks after losing Game 7 of the World Series.

Manager Dave Roberts said he's mindful of striking a balance between preparing this club for Opening Day 2018 while not asking too much from too many with so little time to rebound from the successful-but-draining 2017 season.

"The challenge is keeping guys sharp but rested," said Roberts, embarking on his third season as manager of a club that has won its division each of the last five years. "We'll cut guys short, give them more days off, back-field work, at-bats in Minor League games. But to sit in a Major League game for 2 1/2 hours to get two or three at-bats the first couple weeks doesn't make much sense."

General manager Farhan Zaidi sounded the same cautionary tone.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"Our responsibility is to monitor and make sure in April this group is not experiencing any physical effects from the long season," Zaidi said.

That goes especially for closer Kenley Jansen, two-time Trevor Hoffman Award winner as the best reliever in the National League. He pitched a career-high 85 innings last year, including the postseason.

"Missing Spring Training a little bit is not that bad at all," Jansen said. "Ease up in April, even in May, it's not that bad. I just want to stay healthy, that's my whole concern. I'm aware I've thrown a lot lately. Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to buy into that plan."

Video: Jansen on improving his fitness for 2018

Roberts has the luxury of throttling back Spring Training because there aren't many questions to answer for a club that won 104 games in the regular season.

The starting rotation and infield are set, as are two outfield spots. Behind the plate, Austin Barnes and Yasmani Grandal will share playing time. The most heated competition figures to be in the bullpen.

Left field has been complicated by the surprising return of Matt Kemp. If he remains, there will be a ripple effect in the outfield and on the bench.

Video: Kemp looks to impress in second stint with Dodgers

Even with relatively few roster changes during the offseason, Roberts said he's just as confident about his club as he was a year ago, when Spring Training was extended because of the World Baseball Classic.

"If you look at one through 30, we're pretty similar [to last year]," Roberts said. "To have the abbreviated Spring Training and incorporate rest, there's already a buy-in from the guys. You've got to give a little bit, sacrifice a little bit. But it's a hungry group. The nucleus and depth we have, I'll take this club over anyone's."

Position players report on Sunday and the Cactus League opener is on Feb. 23, against the White Sox at their shared Camelback Ranch facility in Glendale.

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

Los Angeles Dodgers