Once again Dodgers prove an old baseball adage true
Which is … you can never have too much pitching.
Not in April, not in the middle of summer, not in the postseason and not -- it turns out -- before the first full-squad workout.
Position players were still squeezing into their uniforms for the first time this spring, when they looked around their clubhouse and saw three relievers were already down.
Out were Vicente Padilla (elbow), Dana Eveland (hamstring) and Ronald Belisario (head).
Padilla was a lock to make the club, and Belisario was at least penciled in, so there are two openings in the bullpen that didn’t figure to be there when camp opened.
If the Dodgers open the season with seven relievers, locks are Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Matt Guerrier, and now, probably Blake Hawksworth.
Kenley Jansen, whom the Dodgers might have been tempted to start the season at triple-A to hone his still raw closing skills, now appears in a good position to make the season-opening 25-man roster.
Which at the very least still leaves two positions open. And there is always the possibility the Dodgers might temporarily elect to start the season with eight relievers.
That leaves an open field for the rest of the contenders -- Ramon Troncoso, Ron Mahay, Lance Cormier, Scott Elbert, Mike MacDougal, Jon Link, and later, Eveland. And if they wanted a long reliever, Carlos Monasterios or John Ely.
Now that three-year, $12-million deal for Guerrier is looking better, not to mention that constant late addition of veteran, if uncertain, arms.
If the first five are in, then there is still an obvious need for a second left-hander in the bullpen. That would give an edge to Mahay, Elbert and Eveland.
But newbie manager Don Mattingly has said he will take the best arms and not get locked into having to take a second lefty. That could bode well for Troncoso, who at least had a terrific 2009 and start to last season before quickly going downhill.
None of the leading right-handers, however, has a particularly impressive history against left-handed hitters -- MacDougal (.274 batting, .421 slugging), Cormier (.271, .428) or Troncoso (.268, .425) -- so one left-handed reliever figures to emerge.
So as camp opens, competition is on in at least one area. The guys who have the best springs figure to earn opening-day roster spots. Retreads and the unproven, you're all up.
Of course, with almost six weeks to go, more injuries and sore arms remain to be discovered.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Matt Guerrier. Credit: Hannah Foslien / Getty Images