Shohei puts on a show, Lux’s road back, Vargas at crossroads, no 6-man rotation, a Mookie caring update, more

It’s sort of our job to find #Content as writers of a Dodgers blog, but honestly there’s not a whole lot going on yet at Camelback Ranch. Lot of “everybody is getting along” and “look how cool the team looks now” kind of stuff, but hardly anything really happening. And honestly? That’s basically what you want at this stage.


One of the main stories so far in Spring Training is likely the same one that will persist throughout the year: health.

Their biggest new face in Shohei Ohtani at least seems to be getting back to it, impressing both the team and himself with his first swings during batting practice.

“I felt really good overall,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “Every swing got really strong with some good results.”
Ohtani, who has drawn rave reviews from his teammates and executives about how meticulous he is with every swing, took pitches from J.T. Watkins as they simulated real at-bats. In the first round, Ohtani easily cleared the right-field fence on just his second swing of the session. Overall, the two-time American League Most Valuable player went through two rounds of batting practice. He took 21 swings overall, 10 of them for homers.
“I was planning on, like I said earlier, to swing on the lighter side,” Ohtani said. “But I felt like the swings were feeling really good, which is a really good sign. I think it’s trending towards me being ready for Opening Day.”

After the ball landed in the bushes, Dodgers hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc asked Ohtani if he had gotten jammed on the pitch. Ohtani turned back with a smile and quickly answered, “A little bit.”
“On the field, he looks great. He looks awesome,” Van Scoyoc said. “He’s moving good. He’s moving fast. The ball is really coming off. He’s explosive. So from everything I’ve seen, he looks outstanding.”

They weren’t expecting to have him on the mound in 2024, but they’re absolutely going to need him to be right in the box, so this is a promising start.

Meanwhile, oe of the biggest question marks about this team is at shortstop, and Gavin Lux talked about his road to recovery following the destruction of his knee last year, and he’s confident he’ll be ready.

Before the start of this year’s spring camp, Lux was fully cleared by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Lux had been wearing a big knee brace throughout his rehab, but he is now sporting a much more comfortable sleeve. On the field, Lux says he feels strong and ready to contribute. Defensively, he has checked all the boxes during workouts at Dodger Stadium over the winter. This spring, it will be interesting to see how it all translates into game action.
“The last three months I’ve been out here taking ground balls. It feels good,” Lux said. “I grew up playing shortstop. … Flipping back to that side where I grew up playing and have a lot of game reps is kind of second nature for me.”
The final hurdle Lux will have to check off is playing in games. Physically, Lux feels ready to go. Mentally, it’ll still be good for him to round the bases and fully trust his knee. Once Lux does that in a few weeks, he expects to be full go. Finally, he hopes all the waiting will pay off.

Still in wait and see mode with regards to his ability to handle shortstop coming off a major injury, but I did believe his bat would improve even going into last year, so hopefully we get at least that.

On the farm, one of the major setbacks last year was Andy Pages going down in the middle of what seemed like a breakout campaign. It being a torn labrum was just as depressing because it’s an injury known to sap power, but the good news is that he’s ready to start the year and will hopefully be making his way back.


Speaking of comebacks, Miguel Vargas wasn’t necessarily injured (though he did speak about his hand injuries screwing things up), but he enters Spring Training with something to prove as well. Given the job at second base last year, he failed to nail it down despite the ample runway, and now looks to course correct.

“I had an incredible offseason,” Vargas said in Spanish. “I talked to my dad and brother a lot about failing. They helped me understand that things happen. Playing in the Majors last season was a different world for me. I think I lost confidence in myself and I just need to keep believing in myself.”

“It was really tough for me. I’ve never struggled like that before,” Vargas said. “Obviously, every player’s goal is to play in the Majors. It was really difficult for me to accept that I was struggling that bad and that I was getting sent down, but things just didn’t go as I planned. My family really helped me this offseason. They helped me understand that failure is part of the game and life. I just had to learn from that and I think last year made me a stronger person.”

Vargas is definitely at the crossroads right now. The Dodgers have an MVP candidate embedded at second base, and Vargas no longer has a clear path to playing time. Yet the promise that made the Dodgers give him half a season to lose the job last year still exists, it’s just a matter of whether he can get the bat going in the outfield and force his way into playing time like others who came before him have.


Much to the chagrin of Dustin, the Dodgers are not going to a six-man rotation … officially at least.

So why not just go to a six-man rotation?
“Because then you have a seven-man ’pen,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said of the idea. “It’s gonna be a little bit of a shell game. But we feel really good with the depth and quality of arms that we have. And there will be periods where having more length in the ’pen serves us when we’re playing a lot of games in a row, and others where we have a lot of days off and can go a lot shorter. There are gonna be a lot of conversations that we have to put ourselves in the best position to win baseball games.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sees another downside to a six-man rotation.
“I think the downside is just kind of when you do that, with off days, there are other guys that don’t need all that extra time,” Roberts said. “So you’re just kind of … trying to be as sensitive to everyone and that middle – to get guys ample time in between starts but also not giving certain guys too much time. So there’s a little middle that you’re trying to deal with.”

For all intents and purposes, though, it may likely seem like they’ll have a 5.5-man rotation or something between all the rest, roster shuffling, and presumed injuries that will come. As mentioned in the article, for a long time now the rotation has rarely went on regular rest.

The Dodgers have dealt with it over the past nine seasons (since Friedman took over) by giving their starting pitchers extra rest whenever possible. By using off days on the schedule, inserting spot starters to make it a six-man rotation for one or two turns or sending starters to the injured list for relatively minor injuries, the Dodgers’ starting pitcher has had more than four days’ rest in 65% of their games since 2015.


In one of those stories that shouldn’t be stories things, Mookie Betts has said to Dodger fans that he does indeed care.

Mookie Betts cares. He really cares, and he doesn’t understand why anyone would think otherwise.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Betts said.

Well, thankfully that’s out of the way.

But he goes on to take accountability for last season’s postseason failings as well.

“[The postseason] is when I didn’t show up,” Betts said. “I didn’t do anything to help the team. I know I take great pride in doing what I can to help the team. But I also had a pretty good stretch. Played pretty well last year. Obviously not when it mattered. But I’ve got to give myself a little pat on the back, say good job, but also know that I’ve got to come and show up when it matters.”

Sometimes I see where people are coming from, because Mookie is frequently big on moving on to the next one, but fans mostly want to be given the whole eyewash deal where a player is a sociopath about winning and like hates his life if he loses a game. For me though, it seemed illogical that he actually doesn’t care, and a lot of the quotes from Mookie that seem dismissive also seemed more like a defense mechanism than anything else.

Mainly, I just honestly don’t really care if he gives quotes that makes fans happy or not. Nobody would be complaining one way or another if he just performed in the playoffs, so unless you actually think he put in the work to have an MVP-caliber regular season and just stopped caring specifically for the playoffs, there’s no point to haranguing him over how he deals with failure. Not gonna help things, and could actively hurt, so whatever.


Honestly, the less newsworthy updates we get until the games start the better. The last thing I want to see is a “BREAKING” headline about the Dodgers cause there’s like a 99% chance it would be an injury.

About Chad Moriyama

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"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times