So it's time for spring roster stories, our favorite guessing game. This year it’s even more fun, or at least complicated, what with the Dodgers actually looking at three or four different rosters.
But they leave Sunday for Down Under, so time is running out on this compressed spring training for the Dodgers.
They can take 30 players to Australia to play in the exhibition game against its national team, have 28 available (but only 25 active) for the two games against the Diamondbacks in Sydney, and then it’s back to the regular 25-man active roster the following Sunday in San Diego.
Plus there are additional moving parts. Carl Crawford’s fiancee is expected to give birth any moment, but if she hasn’t delivered by Sunday he will stay behind. Zack Greinke is not going, but the Dodgers hope he’ll be ready by San Diego. Fourth starter Dan Haren may not go.
Plus, the team the Dodgers send to Australia is unlikely to be exactly the same one they open with against the Padres.
Here are your seeming locks for the 25-man roster in Sydney, even if in Greinke’s case he won’t physically be there:
Catcher — A.J. Ellis, Tim Federowicz
First base — Adrian Gonzalez
Second base — Dee Gordon
Third base — Jose Uribe
Shortstop — Hanley Ramirez
Outfield — Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig, Crawford, Scott Van Slyke
Starting pitchers — Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Haren, Paul Maholm and Greinke
Bullpen — Kenley Jansen, Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, Brandon League, J.P. Howell and Jamey Wright.
That’s 21 right there. Infielder Justin Turner appears to have locked up a utility role. Chone Figgins is hitting just .188, but the Dodgers love his defensive versatility and he has walked a team-high nine times this spring, so I’m thinking they at least start the season with him. Now you’re at 23.
If the Dodgers are looking at Maholm as their emergency starter for Sydney, then they’ll carry at least one additional reliever. There’s little doubt they want Paco Rodriguez, but they need to carry impressive Rule 5 draft pick Seth Rosin on the roster or offer him back to Philadelphia, so the guess is he’ll make the team at least for now. Rodriguez could figure as one of the extra three for the two-game Diamondback series, but seems assured of making the trip.
They’ll need another outfielder, and if Crawford makes trip Mike Baxter looks like the leading back-up candidate. If Crawford remains home, the Dodgers could take prospect Joc Pederson and start him in the second game against right-hander Trevor Cahill.
And there’s your 25, plus at least two in reserve. The Dodgers may like to take an additional starting pitcher in reserve, and this seems like a good time for prospect Zach Lee to be around the big club. Chris Withrow would make an excellent reliever to have on standby (if not the final 25) and they might take an extra infield utility player in Miguel Rojas. And that’s 30.
Josh Beckett figures to start the season on the 15-day disabled list, but the Dodgers won’t need a fifth starter until mid-April. Days following the series in Australia count as time on the disabled list, so players on the DL could be activated by April 4.
As we learn every spring, this all remains greatly in flux. It’s all one sore elbow (League?) from being changed, and it will likely look fairly different toward the end of April. Still, it’s spring and time for best guesses.