Glasnow enters 'competition mode' in dominant spring start

March 2nd, 2024

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Under ordinary circumstances, an acquisition of the ilk of the Dodgers’ trade for this offseason would have been the marquee move that defines a team’s winter.

Of course, there was nothing ordinary about the Dodgers’ offseason, which was so loud and lavish that Glasnow’s arrival (and subsequent extension) sort of blended into the background, somewhere behind all those cameras and microphones surrounding Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

But on Friday night at Camelback Ranch, the Dodgers got their first real look at what Glasnow can give L.A.’s new-look rotation. After a somewhat glitchy Dodgers debut last week against the Angels, Glasnow was on point in three near-perfect innings in which he struck out five Guardians batters against one walk.

“He filled up the zone the entire night,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Today, you could just see that he had complete clarity.”

In a game the Dodgers would go on to win, 6-4, on non-roster infielder Austin Gauthier’s go-ahead grand slam in the eighth, Glasnow shone.

“I just got into more of a rhythm, kind of like competition mode,” Glasnow said afterward. “Everything felt pretty timed up today.”

What makes Glasnow such an intimidating matchup for opposing batters is the long extension he gets from his 6-foot-8 frame and the way his four-seamer (which moves more like a cutter), slider and curveball are delivered from the same plane. This was an outing in which Glasnow’s full talents were on display.

“It was definitely more around the strike zone and getting ahead a little better,” he said. “Better than the first one, for sure. Just baby steps. … It was a little inconsistent as far as release point, but that’s what Spring Training is for.”

The curveball seemed to be of particular emphasis to Glasnow in his first two innings of work. The hook typically works as a putaway pitch in the dirt, but he said he’s tinkering with it slightly in camp.

“I’m trying to pop it up more,” he said. “But it’s such a strikeout pitch for me, I don’t want to mess with the angle of it too much. I like that it doesn’t pop up super high out of my hand. It looks like a heater all the way. As long as I can keep that, I’ll be good.”

Ohtani watch

What daily Dodgers dialogue would be complete without mention of Ohtani?

The newly married superstar had a fine night at the plate against the Guardians, getting his first opportunity to run (rather than trot) the bases by going 1-for-1 with two walks and an RBI single that sliced through the right-hand side and ate up second baseman Andrés Giménez.

Though Ohtani did not speak with reporters afterward, interest in his every outcome is so intense that about a dozen Japanese media members surrounded Guardians pitcher Tyler Beede outside the visiting clubhouse to get his thoughts on giving up Ohtani’s base hit.

“Shohei was really good today,” Roberts said. “He looks comfortable. He’s taking aggressive swings in the batter’s box, he’s swinging at strikes, he’s taking balls. And so today, another positive day for Shohei.”

Ohtani will be off on Saturday. But he’ll be watched, regardless.

Kiké debuts, Kershaw arrives

There were two familiar sights in Dodgers camp on Friday: Clayton Kershaw in the clubhouse and Kiké Hernández in the lineup.

Hernandez made his (latest) Dodgers debut, batting fourth and playing center field against the Guards. But Roberts indicated we ought not to read too much into the right-handed-hitting Hernández’s position assignment in this particular game, as he still expects the left-handed-hitting James Outman to be much more than a platoon player in center.

“James is still going to play against lefties,” Roberts said. “I don’t expect him to play all 162 games. With Kiké, I don’t think it affects James. Kiké’s going to play short, third, some left and some center, and maybe some second base at different times.”

Kershaw had his first official work day after signing his latest pact with the Dodgers while recovering from shoulder surgery. He played catch and will remain with the team until it departs for South Korea for the Seoul Series. While rehabbing this season, he’ll be with the Dodgers at select homestands.

“I know he’s excited to be here and around his teammates,” Roberts said.