Inbox: Beat reporters break down Aussie series
Gilbert, Gurnick answer fans' burning questions surrounding D-backs-Dodgers
G'day mates from Sydney. With Opening Day fast approaching I sat down with my colleague, Dodgers beat reporter Ken Gurnick, to answer some questions we've received from fans. We took the most asked ones and turned them into an Inbox. Some are about the Opening Series while others deal with each team.
Why do teams have 28-man rosters for the series?
MLB.com: Because the teams only need two starting pitchers for this series, it did not make sense to bring their entire rotations to Sydney. The three pitchers on each team who are not starting stayed back in Arizona and will continue to prepare for the regular season by pitching in Minor League games. They are considered part of the roster and will be paid and accrue Major League service time accordingly.
When the two teams go from 28 down to 25-man rosters for the March 30 and 31 openers, do they have to choose from the 28-man rosters, or can they bring up other players?
MLB.com: The 28-man rosters are only for the Opening Series. Teams are free after that to recall players from the Minor Leagues to reshuffle their 25-man roster for the reopening of the season.
What will the Dodgers do when they have four healthy outfielders?
Ken Gurnick: Celebrate. But they aren't holding their breath. This so-called problem is heading into its second season and hasn't been a fact yet. There is no guarantee that Matt Kemp will ever be the player he was. He thinks he will, the club hopes he will, but even once he returns it could take months or longer for him to prove that he's 100 percent healthy and that he's back to being Matt Kemp. Don't underestimate the seriousness of that left ankle injury. Then there's Carl Crawford, who can play only left field and hasn't exactly shown he's an ironman either. Yasiel Puig's batting average dropped 400 points from one Spring Training to the next. That doesn't mean he's not Puig anymore, but it's hardly a reassuring sign. Andre Ethier has become the unexpected Mr. Dependable, although his power numbers are in decline. In other words, having four healthy outfielders at the top of their game would be a very welcome situation compared to what they had last year.
Who is going to be the D-backs' starting shortstop?
Steve Gilbert: Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius will each start one of the games during the series against the Dodgers, but the shortstop battle has not been settled -- at least officially. While Owings seemed to be the favorite going into camp and hasn't done anything to play his way out of that spot, the D-backs will not make an official decision until after the series with the Dodgers. Even at that point, both could be on the roster when they reopen the season March 31 against the Giants, because outfielder Cody Ross will start the year on the disabled list.
Who is the Dodgers' fifth starter?
Gurnick: Another good problem. When the Dodgers need one, it will be either Josh Beckett or Paul Maholm, and that shouldn't be until mid-April. Beckett hasn't been able to stay healthy, which is why they signed Maholm as Spring Training opened. Both are former Opening Day starters, so whichever one gets the ball, the Dodgers should match up well to most club's fifth starters. Then there's Chad Billingsley, on schedule for a May return from Tommy John surgery, although those usually take two seasons for the player to fully return to his pre-injury form.
How will the D-backs handle the playing time in the outfield when Ross comes back?
Gilbert: Those kinds of questions are always difficult, because playing time has a way of always seeming to work itself out. Assuming Ross comes back right after the season starts, I think that D-backs manager Kirk Gibson will move him around to all three outfield spots as a way of resting each of his outfielders. Remember, Gerardo Parra seemed to wear down a bit last year so they will be careful with him this year.
When will Corey Seager reach the big leagues?
Gurnick: Unless he's the next Alex Rodriguez, not this year. Seager will be 20 next month, the age Rodriguez won a batting title, and Seager hasn't played above Class A. He also hasn't played third base, even though his body says he will. The Dodgers also just signed Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena for $25 million, so they must finally think Seager isn't necessarily keeping the position. And if they re-sign Hanley Ramirez to play third base, hard to figure just where Seager's future is.
When can we expect to see Archie Bradley in the big leagues?
Gilbert: The D-backs already have one spot open in the rotation with the injury to Patrick Corbin. It seems like the D-backs will shift Randall Delgado into Corbin's spot, but they have not said that yet. If Bronson Arroyo is not able to start the season due to his back, that would lead to another opening and it could be Bradley or Bo Schultz. Ideally, the D-backs would let Bradley get a little more experience in the Minors and then call him up in June, but we'll see which direction they go.
When will Julio Urias reach the big leagues?
Gurnick: Later than Seager. Urias is only 17. He throws so hard while so young that management is terrified he will blow out. That's why his innings are artificially held down. Hard to hold down innings and rush a prospect at the same time. With all of the long-term guaranteed money the Dodgers have committed to starting pitching -- Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu -- the club can afford to be patient with Urias and seems determined to be.
Do you expect there to be any fights during the Opening Series with the Dodgers?
Gilbert: I doubt it. You never know what could happen if a batter gets hit or someone takes a player out hard at second base, but I really don't think it will result in fisticuffs.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.