Look real hard and you can find it. It’s there, just not exactly under the spotlight. Maybe not in hiding, though you could make the argument that the Dodgers will try it.
It is the Dodgers’ bench, such as it. And as it is, it’s wholly unimpressive.
Presenting your 2012 Dodgers in reserve: catcher Matt Treanor, infielders Jerry Hairston Jr. and Adam Kennedy, and outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr. and Jerry Sands.
There’s some versatility and some nice defensive elements, but offensively there just isn’t much there. The power hitter is Sands, he of the 194 career at-bats? The left-handed bats are Gwynn and Kennedy?
This is all as currently scheduled, of course. And these things almost never go as scheduled. Which would explain why the Dodgers started last season with Xavier Paul, Hector Gimenez and Ivan DeJesus Jr. on the roster.
General manager Ned Colletti said he thinks this year’s bench can be superior to last season’s, before quickly asking which Dodgers’ bench he should reference.
"Unfortunately our bench ended up playing," Colletti said. "The bench was really the second bench."
Which is why the 2012 edition is so scary. Chances are, some of them are going to have to play more than expected. And this is what manager Don Mattingly will have to choose from based on last season’s numbers:
Player Avg. OBP SLG
Treanor .214 .338 .291
Hairston .270 .344 .383
Kennedy .234 .277 .355
Gwynn .256 .308 .353
Sands .253 .338 .389
And as a group, it’s not like it’s a bunch of kids approaching their prime. Kennedy is 36, and Treanor will be in March and Hairston in May.
Plus you have to remember the Dodgers’ regular everyday lineup is already going to have its risks. Rookie shortstop Dee Gordon batted .304 last season but in only 224 at-bats, so we’ve yet to see if pitchers adjust to the slight Gordon. And A.J. Ellis is going to be the main catcher, and has a career .262 average with zippo power in 206 career at-bats.
There’s not a strong pinch-hitter in the group, either. Career averages as pinch-hitters: Treanor .200, Hairston .174, Kennedy .223, Gwynn .288, Sands .000 (only four at-bats). There's not really a reserve shortstop.
Last year the Dodgers wanted to start the season with a bench of Dioner Navarro, Jamey Carroll, Aaron Miles, Tony Gwynn Jr., Marcus Thames/Jay Gibbons. Navarro and Thames were busts, and Gibbons couldn’t overcome vision issues. Yet they still might prove a better group.
The Dodgers 25-man roster is basically set. If everyone makes it through spring healthy, there are no position openings.
``If it goes the way it’s planned, the team has some flexibility to it but not a whole lot,’’ Colletti said.
On days when Juan Rivera or James Loney don't start, the bench will get a boost but it could use plenty more. It could have used a Coco Crisp, but Colletti denied an interest in the outfielder before he re-signed with the A’s.
``Never had a conversation,’’ Colletti said.
Colletti is operating under budget constraints unworthy of a team playing in the second-largest market in the country, but such are the times when your team is in bankruptcy court.
And such is the bench.
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-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodger Stadium. Credit: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times.