SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It was the first game of the spring, not exactly the moment for sweeping generalizations. But it’s fair to say that the sloppy defense that made Clayton Kershaw’s first spring outing on Wednesday seem deceptively poor is a legitimate concern rather than a trifle.
Carl Crawford charged A.J. Pollock’s line drive and had it bounce off his glove and trickle to the wall, a misplay somehow ruled a triple. Yasiel Puig, who packed on more than 20 pounds in the off-season, chased down a double in the gap and had it nick off his glove, then nick off Joc Pederson’s glove for an error.
Shaky defense, particularly at key positions, might be the Dodgers’ biggest worry as we sit here in February.
Asked about it Wednesday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly didn’t exactly summon a spirited defense of his players’ ability to catch and throw at an elite level. The Dodgers’ only premium defenders, Adrian Gonzalez and Juan Uribe, play on the corners. Puig is talented, but erratic in right field.
“We don’t want to give extra outs, but at the same time we know nobody’s perfect and we’re going to do the best we can with the guys we have,” Mattingly said. “Our guys are who they are. That’s the thing. We’re going to make the best decisions based on the best combination of guys.”
Guerrero, a career shortstop, remains the biggest question mark. The trouble is, the main rival to unseat him, Dee Gordon, also is a converted shortstop whose defense even at his natural position has been something of a concern.
Mattingly said, “At this point, I can’t tell you what second base is going to look like,” and said of Guerrero, “We see a guy who hasn’t played in a while. I’m not going to judge Alex on five innings.”