Dodgers spring training primer: Outfield

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error As the Dodgers get closer to the first workout of spring training on Feb. 16, we are providing a breakdown of how they stand with their roster. Today, the outfield:2016 RECAPInjuries hit the Dodgers’ outfield hard last season. Veteran Andre Ethier missed nearly the entire season with a spiral fracture in his leg suffered during spring training. Trayce Thompson and Scott Van Slyke landed on the DL for most of the season (no small factor in last season’s struggles against left-handed pitching). Yasiel Puig had his own issues, landing back in the minors for all of August. The Dodgers did acquire Josh Reddick at midseason and were fortunate Howie Kendrick handled a move to left field adequately. Also, Andrew Toles rose unexpectedly from the minor leagues to give the outfield group a jolt of energy late in the season. Joc Pederson was the lone constant, following up his 26-homer rookie season with 25 home runs and an .847 OPS (second on the team).HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW Kendrick and Reddick are gone. But the Dodgers have so many options in the outfield they could start entirely different groups against right-handed (Pederson, Toles, Ethier) and left-handed pitching (Puig, Van Slyke, Thompson and Darin Ruf). For that to work, however, Puig will have to continue to accept a diminished role and reverse the downward slide of his career and Thompson will have to recover from two stress fractures in his back (which might take more time than originally anticipated).THE NEXT LAYERToles was out of baseball in 2015 and started 2016 in Class-A. But he figures to have a significant role on the 2017 Dodgers. Beyond that, blue-chip prospect Cody Bellinger could get a taste of the big leagues at some point this year — his skill set includes the unusual ability to play both first base and center field at a high defensive level — and Alex Verdugo is rising fast. Verdugo (who turns 21 in mid-May) hit .273 with a .743 OPS while playing as one of the youngest position players in the Double-A Texas League last year. He will no doubt be one of the youngest position players in Triple-A this year. Another prospect, O’Koyea Dickson, is limited defensively but not offensively. He hit .328 with 18 home runs and a .994 OPS in 101 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City last year.MOVES THEY COULD MAKEImproving their lineup against left-handed pitching was high on the Dodgers’ offseason agenda. Healthy returns from Thompson and Van Slyke would help in that area but Thompson’s back has been slow to heal. That could lead to further tinkering in the outfield landscape — but don’t hold your breath for an oft-speculated trade for Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun.last_img

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