GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers made lots of news over the winter spending money and stockpiling arms. The ratio of capable pitchers to available spots ensures that manager Don Mattingly and his staff will engage in some lively debate between now and the season opener against San Francisco on April 1.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The Dodgers have eight starting pitchers in camp: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Ted Lilly, Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang. Lilly and Billingsley, both of whom are coming off injuries, have been throwing without restrictions in Glendale. Even if the Dodgers decide to place Lilly on the disabled list on Opening Day and move one of their other starters to the bullpen, they’ll still have six pitchers in the running for five spots. To further complicate matters, they won’t even need a fifth starter until April 13.
The Dodgers also are loaded with bullpen pieces. If Kenley Jansen, Brandon League, Javy Guerra, Matt Guerrier, Ronald Belisario and J.P. Howell are healthy, they’ll account for six relief spots. The Dodgers also have veterans Kevin Gregg, Mark Lowe and Peter Moylan in camp on minor league deals.
"We tell these guys over the course of spring training, 'Force us to make tough decisions,'" Mattingly said. "We want to have those tough decisions and discussions at the end of camp, like, 'Where are we going to go if everybody is healthy and throwing the ball well?'"
Mattingly is intrigued by what the Dodgers might have in Gregg and Lowe, righty relievers who were forced to scramble for jobs in a tough free-agent market. Gregg has 144 major league saves, and Lowe has 229 strikeouts in 262 career innings with Seattle and Texas.
"Relievers are funny," Mattingly said. "There will be a year where they’re really good. Then they’ll have a down year. Then the next thing you know, they kind of show up and the arm rebounds. You never know what you’re going to see from year to year."
Harang looking fit
Aaron Harang will never be confused with a skinny jeans model at 6-foot-7, 260 pounds. But Mattingly singled him out for mention Friday for reporting to camp in excellent shape. Harang, 10-10 with a 3.61 ERA in 31 starts last year, needs to make a quick impression if he’s going to make some headway in the Dodgers’ starting pitching competition.
"He’s one of the guys I noticed right away," Mattingly said. "He’s a big guy, but he looks like he's in great shape to me. It kind of lets you know that he did his winter work. It’s a lot better than seeing him come in 20 pounds over where he should be."
Sele voter still a mystery
Aaron Sele, who is working as a special assistant to Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, inadvertently landed in the middle of a Twitter flareup in January when he received a lone, anonymous vote in the Hall of Fame balloting. The reaction from media members and fans ranged from amusement to outrage.
Sele, who went 148-112 with a 4.61 ERA in 15 big league seasons with the Red Sox, Mariners, Angels, Rangers, Dodgers and Mets, reflected on the episode from Dodgers camp Friday with his typically good-natured perspective.
"I was definitely caught off guard by it," Sele said. "I was also appreciative of the vote. Hopefully, somebody respected me for what I did and the way I played the game.
"I respect the Hall of Fame, what it stands for and the people who are in it. I understand that I do not deserve to be in the Hall. I’m only 152 wins short of earning my way in there. I get that."