As we near Opening Day, there have been no major surprises in the spring training battles for positions. Injuries have reared their ugly heads and affected Zack Greinke and Carl Crawford’s potential availability for Opening Day, but the rest of the spring has gone pretty much according to plan. Each spot will look pretty much as expected in February.
The only way for Cruz to have lost his job this spring was if the Dodgers somehow brought someone else in. That didn’t happen, and Cruz has been fine this spring, posting an OPS of .852 against decent competition, all while being at the center of the Mexico-Canada brawl during the World Baseball Classic.
So far, so good for Billingsley. He has spent spring training hoping that his offseason of rehab would be enough to avoid Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow. And up to this point, he has had no issues. He recently threw a simulated game and reported no pain afterwards, which is obviously a good sign.
Ryu finally impressed in a spring start, going 5.1 strong innings and retiring the last 11 batters he faced. The financial weight the Dodgers have invested in him means that he will begin the season in the rotation, and his Sunday performance means they’ll finally feel more comfortable trusting him to come through.
This job was admittedly going to be very hard to take away from League so early, and even poor outings haven’t deterred manager Don Mattingly from standing by League. Kenley Jansen has yet to allow a run, but clearly nothing he does will change Mattingly’s mind.
As Carl Crawford looks less and less likely to be ready for Opening Day (he just made his debut in a live game, and he still has to DH), the Dodgers will have to find a replacement. Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston, Jr., both of whom were signed to be utility men, will likely begin the season in a platoon while the Dodgers wait for Crawford to come off the DL. Schumaker, as the left-handed bat, will get the majority of the at-bats.