GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mookie Betts will make his Dodgers Cactus League debut on Sunday starting in right field and batting leadoff against the Cubs at Camelback Ranch, manager Dave Roberts said on Saturday.
Betts, the marquee acquisition in one of the franchise’s biggest blockbuster trades, will likely be the designated hitter against the White Sox on Monday, Roberts indicated.
Roberts said he lobbied to have the game canceled because of the rains and wanted to switch Cody Bellinger from center field to first base, but Bellinger didn’t bring his first-base mitt to Scottsdale.
“But the field drained well and we did a lot of good things,” Roberts said. “The guys were sort of in midseason form, swinging at strikes, taking balls. The pitching was good and the defense was sound. Health was good. Good day all around.”
• Outfielder Joc Pederson had a second light day on Saturday as he nurses a sore right hip and side. Pederson has said the injury is minor and Roberts said he expects Pederson to resume swinging the bat on Sunday. Roberts termed keeping Pederson out of the batting cage as “preventative,” but wouldn’t speculate when Pederson would be ready for game action.
• Clayton Kershaw had his live batting practice session pushed back one day to Sunday because of rain, which also resulted in the Giants pushing back the start time of Saturday's Cactus League opener against the Dodgers by two hours.
• Roberts said Dustin May is being groomed to start this year, an indication that the top pitching prospect in the organization and No. 23 prospect overall (according to MLB Pipeline) will begin the season in the Minor Leagues.
“I don’t see it making a whole lot of sense as a young player to put him in the bullpen,” said Roberts. “Right now he has to get healthy, get on the mound and build up the pitch count.”
May has been slowed the past week by a strained side muscle, but Roberts said he could throw a bullpen session on Sunday.
• In contrast, Tony Gonsolin is viewed as a swingman because he’s three years older than May and could work his way into the bullpen mix. Lefty Caleb Ferguson is viewed as a multiple-inning reliever after starting in the Minor Leagues. Ferguson, Scott Alexander and Adam Kolarek are the three lefties contending for jobs, a competition complicated by MLB’s new “three-batter rule” for pitchers.
Gonsolin started Saturday’s game and had a 1-2-3 inning.
“I would love to be a big league starter and get my first Opening Day and all that stuff, but our starting staff is very deep and I’m trying to improve every day and force their hands and see what happens,” Gonsolin said. “If they see me long-term as a starter, it might be better to start at Triple-A. I just want to get my big league time in and help the club win.”
The Dodgers play their home opener against the Cubs at Camelback Ranch at 12:05 p.m. PT on Sunday. Scheduled starter Alex Wood, penciled in as the club's fifth starter, returned to the Dodgers looking healthy after being sidelined most of 2019 in Cincinnati with back nerve inflammation.