Although it’s early in March and spring training statistics don’t mean a lot when evaluating players, especially youngsters, the Dodgers have found a few surprises so far in spring training.
Billingsley, Dodgers’ third-best pitcher? When healthy, yes.
(Yahoo! Sports photo)
Halfway through training, they sit in the ranks with a 5-6 record. The first surprise coming from the Dodger team is Chad Billingsley. He is pitching, which was something that wasn’t supposed to happen this quickly. Billingsley should be recovering from Tommy John surgery after he partially tore his ulnar collateral ligament in August. Taking the quick recovery route, he received platelet rich plasma injections in his right elbow and coupled it with rehabilitation so that he could pitch through the injury, according to Dustin Nosler, Yahoo! Sports writer.
Billingsley’s numbers aren’t very impressive — a 10.38 ERA and an unheard of 20.1 hits per nine innings — it’s encouraging and surprising that he is even throwing. When completely healthy, he is the Dodgers’ third-best pitcher. His ability, track record and talent speak for themselves. It would be crazy to believe he’ll be able to stick through 180 innings, but at this point any positive performance from Billingsley is a bonus.
Surprise number two comes from Yasiel Puig, who, for a guy who hasn’t played much organized baseball is the last two years, is tearing up the field. When fans aren’t drooling over his physique, they’re drooling over his raw talent, which reminds a lot of Dodgers’ fans of Matt Kemp.
Los Angeles Dodgers Yasiel Puig hits a three-run home run off Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Fernando Nieve in the seventh inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz.
(Mark Duncan/Associated Press photo)
Puig is tied with Barden for most hits (11) while he leads in at-bats (26), RBIs (six) and runs scored (six). According to Dodgers.com, he may not be ready for the “big” squad just yet, and the only way he could make the team out of spring training is if all three starting outfielders get hurt. His time is coming, possibly as soon as this summer. With a little more seasoning in the minor leagues, Puig has a bright future sporting a Dodgers’ uniform.
A final surprise comes from Alex Castellanos, who has done nothing but hit since being acquired by the Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2011. It is still a bit early, but Castellano could actually leave camp as the Dodgers’ fourth outfielder. The only thing keeping this from happening is the fact that he is inexperienced in center field, but since the Dodgers don’t have a great backup center fielder Castellanos could end up with the position with a little more practice.
As for the chemistry the Dodgers were, and still are looking to find— it can be found in winning, according to Ken Gurnick, the MLB Dodger reporter. In a mid-spring training video interview, Pete McCarthy, MLB.com talk show host, talked with Gurnick about this search for chemistry.
“By winning games it will motivate the Dodgers to stay unified as the winning team they are,” Gurnick explained.
The deeper the Dodgers get in spring training and the closer they get to April 1, the more they work things out and get closer to achieving their goal for a successful 2013 season.
— Tate Slaven