Sports

Dave Roberts settles on a 1-2-3 punch at top of Dodgers’ lineup – Daily News



GLENDALE, Ariz. — It is, as Dave Roberts likes to say, a high-class problem.

With eight former All-Stars likely to play most days, filling out a lineup will be a multiple-choice exercise for the Dodgers manager. He has settled on one thing already – Mookie Betts will hit leadoff followed by Freddie Freeman and then Trea Turner.

“It’s not set in stone but it’s certainly the way I’m thinking right now,” Roberts said before Betts made his first Cactus League start on Friday night. “I think that just Mookie’s comfort level to get the lineup going, to hit at the top, Trea’s ability to drive runs in, to get on base, his openness, and then also I think that Freddie in between those guys I think is important – to have the right-left-right-left potentially with Max Muncy right there it just poses a lot of problems for opposing teams.”

Both Betts and Turner have primarily batted leadoff in their careers. According to Roberts, though, Turner does not have as strong a preference as Betts for where he bats in a lineup. Since joining the Dodgers in 2020, Betts has made it clear he feels most comfortable batting leadoff.

“I think that they’re interchangeable as far as first second, third, with Freddie obviously mixed in there,” Roberts said. “Mookie feels considerably more comfortable in the one. For Trea to be open to either – and they both are – but I just think that if I could flip a coin to say which one should hit leadoff and then one feels a little bit more comfortable I think that wins out. So I see Mookie in the one.”

Turner has only started 31 games previously as the No. 3 hitter in a lineup – but he did well (.350/.414/.617). He led the National League in stolen bases last season with 32. That number could suffer batting lower in the lineup. Batting behind Betts and Freeman, though, he should get more opportunities to drive in runs and Turner is a career .306 hitter with runners in scoring position.

Most of Freeman’s experience hitting second in a lineup has come in the past two seasons after spending most of his career (1,070 games) in the No. 3 spot.

“I did it in 2020 when there was a DH. Snit (Braves manager Brian Snitker) and I talked about it, when there’s a DH getting more plate appearances. When Acuña got hurt last year I went to second,” Freeman said. “Whatever they want me to do, second or third, I don’t really care.”

Friday’s game against the San Diego Padres was Roberts’ first chance to write Betts’ name in the lineup this spring. Betts had spent the first week of Cactus League games working in live batting practice and simulated-game situations rather than in exhibition games.

“Coming off an injury so just making sure everything’s smooth. That’s pretty much it,” Betts said after going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against the Padres.

FREEMAN HOMERS

Freeman hit his first home run in a Dodger uniform on Friday night, driving an opposite-field homer off Padres right-hander Nick Martinez.

All three of Freeman’s hits this spring (two singles and the homer in eight at-bats) have been to left field.

“You’re looking at what I do,” Freeman said. “My approach is left-center and that’s what I’m going to do all season long. Usually, if that’s going good right now, we’re in a good spot.

“I’m hitting a line drive at the shortstop. That’s what I’m trying to do every at-bat.”

PRICE DROP

Veteran left-hander David Price has not pitched in a game yet. But in bullpen sessions and live batting practice, he is throwing with a higher arm slot than the past couple of seasons.

“It looks better,” Roberts said. “I think the arm slot is where it needs to be. It’s a little higher. When the arm slot gets higher, it allows for his cutter to play up and where it’s supposed to be. Last year I don’t think he really had that. He had the cutter but didn’t have the changeup and so I think that when he gets his arm up there, his entire mix plays where it should.”

Price said he made the adjustment to get more “north and south” movement (up and down) on his pitches.

“The higher it is, the better I can get behind the baseball,” Price said, adding that he had probably slipped into the lower arm slot “just for comfort” the past few years.





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

close