By Tamara Latta
The Los Angeles Dodgers are eager to get back onto the field. After finishing 80-82 last season, the boys in blue look to become a playoff team again. After missing the postseason last year and finishing fourth place in the NL West, the Dodgers are ready to regain their fame.
The Dodgers were 13-19 in spring training, which isn’t that bad, but they’ll need to improve throughout the regular season. Ethier, Kemp, and Loney will be the team’s rock bottom. I look for the big three to bring some spice to the line-up and get their team back to competing in October.
Kemp has the potential to be a big-time hitter in this league. His patience at bat has always hurt him. He has the power, speed, arm and tools. If he can bounce back and find consistency, look for him to become a huge star this year. The center-fielder ended the season with 28 home runs and 89 RBIs. Ethier, who became an all-star last season, needs to be the vocal voice in the locker room. Leadership is very important in a clubhouse, and that was always the one thing the Dodgers were lacking. After hitting over 50 homeruns for the past two seasons, and driving in over 180 runs, he’s already earned respect from his teammates.
Loney will be another stud to look out for. He had one of his best seasons in 2010. Loney doesn’t always hit for power, but his game is consistent, and he produces offensively and defensively.
There will be 11 pitchers on the Dodgers roster. The starting rotation will be Kershaw, Billingsley, Lilly and Kuroda. Kershaw is the youngest starting pitcher in baseball, and he just might be the Dodgers ace with a 2.91 ERA. Jonathan Broxton will remain the closer, despite his rocky performances during spring training. On Monday, Dodgers Coach Don Mattingly seemed to still have confidence in his closer, as he answered questions in the clubhouse about Broxton’s latest performances.
“We have to make plays for Broxton,” said Mattingly. “He will remain the closer for the season opener on Thursday.”
All eyes will be on new manager Mattingly, at least for the first 50 games. He won the manager’s job after Joe Torre made the decision to retire last year. Mattingly isn’t a stranger to the clubhouse; he has been employed with the Dodgers for the last three seasons as the team’s hitting coach. This is exactly what this clubhouse needed– a young voice and someone who already knows and understands the players.
By Tamara Latta