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More Questions Than Answers for Dodgers
Pitching woes, depths are issues to watch with team this year
By Tamara Latta Sentinel Sports Writer
GLENDALE, AZ -- Heading to spring training last weekend, I was excited to see the new Dodgers facility but I was more focused on seeing how the team had improved since last season. Here's what I noticed.
After watching the Dodgers play this weekend, pitching is the biggest concern. We all knew the pitching was not up to par, and it looks like that's going to be the downfall of the season. James McDonald was set to be the fifth starter, but he had a horrible outing on Saturday. He pitched for two innings, and gave up ---runs including a grand slam. He had a chance to prove his work ethic in the Majors. But after an unpleasant outing Manager Joe Torre was displeased with his performance, and decided to demote him down to the minor leagues.
It looks like the Dodgers will indeed have a harder season this year opposed to last year. With all the roster changes, there will most definitely be some potholes. Nothing too bad to worry about, but don't have high expectations for the club this year. I really felt the Dodgers had the players last year to win a championship. I just can't say that this year.
Don't get me wrong they have a solid roster with a couple of marquee players, but from the look of things they don't have that spark in the clubhouse like they did last year. Where did everyone go? When I went into the locker room, I saw so many new faces I almost thought I was in the visiting locker room. When I asked Matt Kemp how he felt about the roster changes, and the pitching he seemed confident about his teammates.
"I think our bench is much deeper this year opposed to last year," said Kemp. "I think we still have good pitching and we have a great group of players overall."Â
Kemp is looking pretty solid heading into the season. He was working out and spending extra time at batting practice. His swing looks a lot more patient and he's finally adjusting to that great player we were expecting. Last season he had the potential to be a franchise player, but this season the players are going to ride his coattail. But he thinks the expectations are the same as last year going into the season.
"We're not going to try and do anything different that we didn't do last year," said Kemp. "If I can just go out there and hit, steal bases and drive runs in, I think we'll be that team to beat".
First baseman James Loney is looking like he's ready to knock the ball out of every ballpark. He showed up to spring training with a toner look. His muscles are very noticeable, and from the looks of things his body is reacting to the muscle gain. I must say he's having a very much unexpected performance. He's hitting --- which is one of his best spring training numbers. During the off-season he worked extra hard to get in shape. There weren't any demands from management, but he wanted to flourish as a player, so he put the work in to become a player his team could depend on.
"It was important for me to come into spring training prepared and ready to produce" said Loney. "I'm still working on a couple of my weak spots which is my defense and base running".
If I had to grade the Dodgers during spring training I would give them a C+. Hopefully going into the season their grade will go up. I just can't picture them having an enormous performance like last year. Juan Pierre and Orlando Hudson were major contributors to that ball club, and their work with be missed.