LOS ANGELES -- Decision day is here.
The Los Angeles Dodgers play their final spring training game Saturday, and with opening day rosters due by noon PT on Sunday, it is time for the club to reveal decisions about its murky bullpen situation and officially hand the center field job to rookie Joc Pederson.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, general manager Farhan Zaidi and manager Don Mattingly met with certain players after the team’s Friday night game in Anaheim to inform them of decisions. The decisions have not been revealed to the media as of the start of Saturday’s game as the brass still had to talk with more players.
Mattingly also would not come out and say Pederson was the team’s starting center fielder, still leaving himself wiggle room, but Pederson started all three Freeway Series games against the Los Angeles Angels, including the finale Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
“You can read between the lines and see what we’re doing,” Mattingly said before Saturday’s game.
That meant Pederson will be in center field Monday against the San Diego Padres after spending the last three years as a highly touted prospect. He finished last season with Triple-A Albuquerque as the Pacific Coast League’s first 30-30 man in 80 years.
Aside from the offensive upside, Pederson is expected to be the team’s best everyday defensive center fielder in several years and a massive upgrade from Matt Kemp or anyone else the Dodgers have thrown out there in the last few seasons.
As far as the bullpen decisions went, Chris Hatcher was told he made the team Friday and Sergio Santos was informed he would not make it Saturday before the game. Infielder/outfielder Enrique Hernandez also did not make the team.
Other decisions are coming after Saturday’s exhibition finale. But because the bullpen is the most uncertain area of the club and due to the fact it was such a sore spot by the end of last season, we can take an educated stab at who it will house.
J.P. Howell, Joel Peralta, Hatcher, Paco Rodriguez, Juan Nicasio and Yimi Garcia are locks. Because David Aardsma has closing experience, you can guess he will get the final spot. Aardsma’s primary competition, left-handed Adam Liberatore, has options, which means he can be sent to the minors without having to clear waivers. The Dodgers also have two lefties in the bullpen already, reducing the need for Liberatore.