Pitching Woes Still There as Time Gets Short for the Dodgers

As spring training days pass by faster and faster and as the infamous Australia trip draws closer and closer, the Dodgers’ pitching staff is still full of uncertainties, as is the second base spot.

Zack Greinke has returned to action, but his first outing after his leg injury was rather disappointing.

Early season scheduling and weather generally work out so that most teams do not need a fifth starter until a couple of weeks or more into the season, and that is good as that fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation is still a question mark. Frontrunner Josh Beckett left today’s game due to pain in his thumb, which he injured a couple of weeks ago when some unnamed culprit shoved a door into his hand as he reached for the handle. Beckett said he was going in the in while the other person was going out the in.

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The number two candidate for that spot is newcomer Paul Maholm, but he has not fared well of late, giving up six runs in 2-2/3 innings yesterday. Reportedly he has also been experiencing elbow tenderness.

The long-range bet to eventually take over that fifth spot is Chad Billingsley, but despite him perhaps being slightly ahead of schedule as he gets ready to face hitters next week, his major league return from Tommy John surgery last April is still at least two or three months away.

As far as second base is concerned, it looks like a certainty now that the $30 Million second baseman who never before was a second baseman will not have mastered enough of the position to start the season as a major league second baseman. Thus, Alexander Guerrero is headed to the minors, as Dee Gordon and Justin Turner prepare to platoon at the spot as the season begins.

And maybe for quite awhile. That depends to a large extent on how Guerrero advances in AAA or AA, or wherever they send him, and it also depends both on how well Gordon hits, it almost being assumed that he, unlike Guerrero, will be able to make the conversion to second without problem, and on whether or not Chone Figgins shows he has enough left to make the team. If Figgins still has

enough left to earn a job, that job should be as the starter, or at least part-time starter, at second base. Note that Gordon, who hit .226 over the last two years, is batting under .200 this spring.

Finally, Matt Kemp has now actually played in a couple of games this spring. Minor league games, but games no less. While he will not travel to Australia, it’s beginning to look like he will be on the field – major league we hope – in early April.

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