GLENDALE, Ariz. – Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has often said the bullpen is the one area of the roster that always seems to leave him the most unsettled.
“It’s something every year heading into the season that scares me,” Friedman said just before spring camp opened this year. “It’s a very tricky part of roster construction.”
With just over two weeks to go before Opening Day, the relief corps is not doing much to ease his mind.
Counted on to be one of the key setup men, Pedro Baez has yet to pitch in a game. He suffered a contusion to his pitching hand on a ball hit back to the mound during a live batting practice session early in camp and will throw his first bullpen session since then on Sunday.
Signed as a free agent to be a weapon against right-handed hitters, Sergio Romo has barely been on the field since returning from the World Baseball Classic with a sore lower back earlier this week. But Romo has already had a busy off-season – 9 2/3 innings over nine appearances in winter ball, two more in two Cactus League games then 1 1/3 in two games for Team Mexico – so the Dodgers are not worried about his prep time before the start of the season.
Right-hander Chris Hatcher is out of options and cannot be sent to the minors without clearing waivers first. But he has not pitched well this spring, allowing seven runs on 10 hits in six innings – though three of his runs Saturday were unearned – and has not proven reliable for more than short stretches the past two years.
Right-hander Josh Fields entered camp with a chance to occupy a spot high in the bullpen pecking order thanks to a strong finish to the 2016 season. But his fastball has lacked life early in camp and he might be sliding to the fringes of the relief picture.
“Just takes a little bit in spring to get it going,” Fields said. “That’s pretty standard. It’s just the body and getting it in shape, getting my timing and everything….