Nice weekend for the starting staff, right?
Chad Billingsley, today: 3.2 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 K, after last week’s 3 scoreless inning debut.
Clayton Kershaw, yesterday: 4 scoreless innings, facing the minimum 12 batters, giving him 7 scoreless innings this spring in which he’s allowed just 3 hits.
Jon Garland, on Friday: 3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.
Any comments about the offense, or lack thereof, should be held back on a day that has a lineup missing Matt Kemp, Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, Casey Blake, and Juan Uribe, and features Dioner Navarro hitting cleanup. On the other hand, Marcus Thames, on his 34th birthday, doubled off the left-center wall to tie the game at 3 in the 8th.
25th man update: Justin Sellers replaced Juan Castro in the starting lineup at shortstop, walked once in two tries and made two errors on the same play in the first inning, destroying a WGN banner in the process. Castro struck out pinch-hitting in the 5th (against Carlos Marmol, to be fair) and later doubled. Aaron Miles, playing third, tripled and scored the first Dodger run, while Ivan DeJesus went 0-2. The arrow is still pointing strongly in Castro’s direction.
Ramon Troncoso got four outs on seven pitches, prompting new DodgerTalk co-host Joe Block to claim that he’s made the team; Troncoso has now thrown 3.1 scoreless innings without allowing a walk. I think that may be a bit premature, but with the turmoil at the back end of the bullpen, there’s certainly opportunity. You’d think that his history, and time away from the overuse of Joe Torre, would get him some consideration, though.
Hey, Navarro’s going to get a hit sometime, right? I know, it’s spring, it’s early, I get it. Just saying, guys who have hit .212 over the last two seasons and have an arguably superior player behind them need to show something a little more than not getting on base once over their first eleven plate appearances. He at least plated Gabe Kapler on a sac fly today, though of course if Kapler hadn’t been on third, it’d have just been another flyout. Meanwhile, A.J. Ellis drew a walk and threw out a runner trying to steal.
At the Los Angeles Times blog, Steve Dilbeck wonders what might happen if James Loney‘s knee troubles end up being worse than they appear. Despite Russ Mitchell getting the most playing time in Loney’s absence right now (where’s John Lindsey?), Dilbeck thinks that Casey Blake would get the bulk of the time during the season, with Juan Uribe sliding to third and Jamey Carroll entering at second, because it’s just not realistic to think that Jerry Sands breaks camp with the team.
I think Dilbeck’s assumption is probably correct, but it got me thinking – would that alignment actually make the team better? There’s a few reasons to think that it might:
- Carroll would add badly need OBP. His mark has been .355 or higher in each of the last three seasons, four of the last six, and five of the last seven. Carroll doesn’t hit for power, but then again neither does Loney; overall, Carroll had a higher OPS+ last year.
- It’d help optimize the lineup, since Carroll could be a good #2 hitter, pushing Blake down to 6 where he belongs.
- It’d shift Uribe to 3B, which is his stronger defensive position.
- It’d improve platooning possibilities. If Blake were the 1B, then he’s a much more dangerous hitter against lefty pitching than Loney is (though I hope that’s going to happen regardless). You could also spot in Gibbons against tough righty pitching, which likely wouldn’t happen if Loney was in.
It’s not all roses, of course, because you couldn’t expect the 37-year-old Carroll to play every day, and you’d weaken an already questionable bench by removing him from it. The ideal solution is that Loney is healthy and productive, so by no means am I rooting for him to be out. But just the fact that this is a conversation worth having shows the extent of the questions that he’s going to have to answer this year.
Update #1: Well, looks like Carroll has injury concerns of his own:
Jamey Carroll was unable to throw comfortably Sunday after taking a pitch off his right index finger Saturday, but X-rays were negative.
Carroll was able to hit despite the swelling in the finger and will probably need a few more days before he can return to game action.
Scott Elbert, the lefty reliever struggling with his control in games, was held back from a scheduled Sunday appearance and instead will throw batting practice Monday while working on a mechanical adjustment.