Breakout Performances from the Dodgers' First Two Weeks of Spring Training
The Los Angeles Dodgers are among the favorites to win the World Series in 2014 after reaching the National League Championship Series last year. The lofty expectations are fueled by the return of well-established—and well paid—stars such as Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez.
However, a couple of breakout performances during spring training mean that some unexpected names could help the Dodgers end their 26-year World Series drought.
Players that thrive in February and March don’t always turn out to be meaningful contributors during the regular season. But here are two Dodgers that have raised some eyebrows with their stellar play this spring.
Justin Turner, INF
When Justin Turner signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers in February, it didn’t register as a significant offseason move. However, Turner has swung a hot bat this spring, and his versatility could make him the top utility infielder off the Dodgers bench.
Turner has hit .333 in 24 spring training at-bats while getting starts at second base, third base and shortstop. He’s also appeared in 26 games as a first baseman during his five-year major league career, making Turner a valuable player off of the bench.
A career .260 hitter, Turner hit a career-best .280 in 82 games with the New York Mets last season.
Neither Dee Gordon nor Alex Guerrero, the presumed favorites to win the starting job at second, have been particularly impressive this spring. Chone Figgins and Brendan Harris have also struggled at the plate while competing with Turner to become L.A.’s primary utility infielder.
Mark Ellis, Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker are no longer in Los Angeles, and the other second base options have failed to impress. With a strong spring performance, Turner may earn a spot on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster.
Seth Rosin, RHP
Seth Rosin faced long odds of making the Dodgers’ 25-man roster when he was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies last December. But Rosin has excelled on the mound this spring, adding further uncertainty to an already crowded bullpen.
The 26-year-old right-hander has an impressive 1.64 ERA and 12:2 KK:BB ratio in 11 innings this spring.
The Dodgers added depth to their bullpen last offseason by re-signing Bryan Wilson and adding free agents Chris Perez and Paul Maholm.
Both Wilson and Perez have historically been late-game, one-inning pitchers, making their presence less threatening to Rosin’s chances of sticking with Los Angeles. Maholm has a strong major league track record as a starter and long reliever. However, the veteran lefty has struggled mightily this spring, giving up 10 hits and six earned runs in just 7.2 innings.
Dodgers prospects Paco Rodriguez and Chris Withrow, both of whom contributed to the club’s 2013 campaign, are also threats to Rosin’s chances of making the team.
The bigger issue for Rosin is his status as a Rule 5 draftee. If he doesn’t remain on the Dodgers’ 25-man roster all season, Los Angeles must place Rosin on waivers before offering him back to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rosin may have sealed his own fate with a tough outing on Thursday. He surrendered five hits and two earned runs in a three-inning appearance versus the Cincinnati Reds.
Despite the recent performance, Rosin has been one of the few standouts for the Dodgers this spring. If he is squeezed out of the picture in Los Angeles, there is little question that Rosin can help a major league club in 2014.