Sports: MLB Spring Training Kicks Off For Dodgers and Angels
by Kyle Moats
After disappointing finishes from both teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels started off 2019 MLB Spring Training with high hopes of a fresh start for the new season with a new team.
The Dodgers went into this spring training looking to bounce back from yet another World Series loss with some good trades and pickups during the offseason. Although many players from last years’ 40-man roster are returning, key additions were needed to make a 2019 World Series appearance a possibility.
With the signing of Joe Kelly, Boston Red Sox former ace reliever, and Jaime Schultz, who they acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays, they are hoping for more depth from the pitching staff.
Veteran outfielder AJ Pollock from the Arizona Diamondbacks has started off strong in spring and could be the team’s leadoff hitter this season. He hit his first home run against the Royals on March 8th. Pollock was picked up by the Dodgers after they traded away Yasiel Puig to the Cincinnati Reds. Puig’s loss will be felt this season, as he was not just a great ballplayer, but a franchise player for the club and fan-favorite.
The Dodgers also signed Tom Koehler from the Toronto Blue Jays, Dylan Baker from the Cleveland Indians, and Scott Alexander from the Kansas City Royals to add even more depth to their bullpen and starting rotation. In doing this, they ended up trading Trevor Oaks to Kansas City and Luis Avilan to Chicago.
The solidity of their management staff with Dave Roberts remaining at the helm after signing a four-year contract extension this offseason is yet another positive for the team. At this point in spring training, the Dodgers are now 8-6 but have promising results from returning and new players. They are looking good enough to make a World Series run for the third straight year.
The Los Angeles Angels are approaching this season with many unknowns but looking to get themselves back in the running for a championship. General manager Bill Eppler had hoped to sign players to multi-year contracts but has, instead, settled for several one-year deals for the 2019 season.
At least five new players will be with the team for 2019. Pitching additions include starters Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill and closer Cody Allen. Reinforcing their defense, catcher Jonathon Lucroy should help. Eppler has stated that although it may not seem ideal, shorter-term deals can be positive in that “they keep you flexible, and they keep you open to doing things both during the season and during succeeding seasons.”
While the Angels hope to be much more competitive in 2019, they continue to talk about long term growth potential and what they are trying to accomplish in their minor league system. They have been plagued by injuries in recent years and team health will impact competitiveness.
If successful, a playoff appearance this season would be their first postseason appearance since 2014. Despite having Mike Trout, arguably one of the best players in the majors consistently leading the team, the Angels have failed to reach the postseason all but once in his eight years in Los Angeles.
Concern has been expressed that this season’s team performance will either help, or hinder, Angels ownership goals in keeping Trout beyond the expiration of his contract in 2021.
The Dodgers regular opener is on Thursday, March 28th, against the Arizona Diamondbacks at 1:10 PM.
The Angels will not open at home until April 4th, 7:10 PM against the Texas Rangers, after road trips to take on both the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners.