Yamamoto Show just gets better at Dodgers camp

Lux plays in Cactus League opener, says it 'feels good to run around again'

February 23rd, 2024

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Every time gets on a mound, there’s a large crowd that follows.

After Yamamoto signed a 12-year, $325 million deal, becoming the most expensive pitcher in Major League history despite never throwing a pitch in the Majors, there’s been a lot of intrigue surrounding the 25-year-old right-hander.

In his first live batting practice session, Yamamoto drew rave reviews from his teammates. Freddie Freeman called it “incredible” while Mookie Betts literally gave him a standing ovation after he was fooled a few times by various pitches.

On Thursday at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Yamamoto went through his second live BP of the spring. This one was longer than the first, with Yamamoto simulating two innings.

“I’ve been feeling good,” Yamamoto said through interpreter Hiro Sonoda. “I’m just pretending this is a real game. Probably the next step will be a real game that I throw.”

That start likely will come on Tuesday or Wednesday, assuming the Dodgers keep him on a traditional schedule. On Thursday, Freeman, Jason Heyward and Miguel Vargas were among the hitters in the box against Yamamoto. Shohei Ohtani was scheduled to face Yamamoto but never came out to hit on the field.

Yamamoto limited any hard contact throughout his session. His breaking pitches were sharp all day, particularly against Heyward, whom he fanned a few times.

“I’m looking forward to pitching in the Cactus League,” Yamamoto said. “But I’m taking this seriously and getting myself ready for the regular season.”

Earlier this week, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it’s a “safe bet” that Yamamoto and Glasnow would be slated to start games against the Padres in Seoul, South Korea, on March 20 and March 21.

“I don’t think that’s official yet,” Yamamoto said, “but if I throw during that series, it would be such an honor. And I will do my best to contribute to winning the game.”

Back in action
It has been a long year for , who tore his right ACL and LCL and suffered significant damage to his hamstring last spring. After a long rehab process, Lux is back healthy and will, once again, assume the responsibilities of being the Dodgers’ starting shortstop.

Lux made his return to the field on Thursday afternoon in the Dodgers’ 14-1 victory over the Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex, coincidently the same place where he suffered the devastating injury last spring.

“It just felt good to run around and be a baseball player again, especially coming back here where I literally blew it out,” Lux said. “It’s just fun to get some at-bats and feel normal again and do what you grew up doing.”

Lux will play shortstop over the next couple of days and is expected to be full go the rest of the spring. He will serve as the team’s starting shortstop.

“I think getting out in the game and playing in an actual game and not a live BP or an intrasquad is kind of the last box to check,” Lux said. “And now I’ve got to see how I bounce back for tomorrow and go from there.”

Stone steps up
, the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect in the MLB Pipeline rankings, got the start on Thursday and retired the side in order in his only inning. Stone flashed some improved velocity, flashing a pair of 96 mph heaters. His best pitch, however, was one of his signature changeups to strike out Fernando Tatis Jr.

Along with Emmet Sheehan, Stone is one of the starters competing for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Michael Grove is also in the mix, and the right-hander pitched a scoreless second inning.

“I feel like we’re all competing against each other,” Stone said. “But at the same time, we all root for each other and pull for each other. So there’s definitely competition. But throw up zeros and put yourself in a good spot.”

Offense starts strong
The Dodgers scored eight runs in the top of the first inning against the Padres, with the big hit coming from Kevin Padlo, a two-run homer off Carter Loewen. Newcomer Teoscar Hernández also contributed with a two-run double in his first at-bat of the spring.