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The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and the Angels’ Mike Trout exchanging regards before a Spring Training Freeway Series game at Dodger Stadium. Photo courtesy of thesportsfanjournal.com
WITH THE MAJOR LEAGUES, INCLUDING SOCAL’S DODGERS AND ANGELS, BEGINNING SPRING TRAINING THIS WEEK, HERE’S HOW OUR BASEBALL TEAMS SPENT THE OFF SEASON
SPRING TRAINING AT A GLANCE FOR SOCAL’S TWO MLB TEAMS…
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Site: Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Report Date For Pitchers and Catchers: February 14th
First Full Squad Workout: February 18th
First Spring Training Game: vs Milwaukee Brewers, February 25th, 12:10 p.m.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Site: Camelback Ranch, Glendale, AZ
Report Date For Pitchers and Catchers: February 15th
First Full Squad Workout: February 21st
First Spring Training Game: vs Chicago White Sox, February 25th, 1:05 p.m.
Any Dodger or Angel fan who expected any big name free agents to have signed with their teams this winter would have been disappointed as neither ball club delved into the market.
That didn’t mean that November, December and January was time wasted as the Dodgers and Angels did some good things.
The Angels potentially – and at long last – filled a longtime glaring need in left field when they traded for the Detroit Tigers’ Cameron Maybin in November.
Maybin, who’s in the last year of a five-year contract, hit .315 for the Tigers in 2016 and bring speed to the Angels’ outfield, making him a good complement to Mike Trout in center.
That the Halos locked right fielder Kole Calhoun in a three-year deal is likewise a good sign, as after a sub par season they at least can say that they have an outfield, featuring the best player in baseball, that can match any one in the American League.
The Angels also did well in trading for the Washington Nationals’ Danny Espinosa, an Orange County native and a Long Beach State alum who’s coming home and will play second base and form a good double play combination with shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Clayton Kershaw (#22) and the rest of the Dodger pitchers during a workout at Camelback Ranch. Photo courtesy of lapostexaminer.com
As for the Dodgers, their big news this winter came when in December they resigned three players who are and will be crucial to their success in 2017: ace closer Kenley Jansen, breakout third baseman Justin Turner and starter Rich Hill, spending a total of $193 million to keep them in Chavez Ravine.
Jansen was the biggest name among the pitchers in the free agent market, and he turned down five years and $80 million from the Washington Nationals to get the same deal as a Dodger while Turner, who hit 27 home runs and established himself as a leader, signed for four years and $64 million.
Like the Angels with Espinosa, the Dodgers filled their need at second base when they traded for the Tampa Bay Rays’ Logan Forsythe after taking a long look at the Minnesota Twins’ Brian Dozier.
Forsythe will provide some pop as he hit 20 homers for the Rays last season.
Chase Utley was resigned as well, as the former UCLA star will be counted on for his toughness and leadership in the clubhouse.
As one can see, there were some encouraging moves by SoCal’s two baseball teams these past few months, enabling them to go to Tempe (for the Angels) and Glendale’s Camelback Ranch (for the Dodgers) with an optimistic mood.
I, along with pretty much every baseball fan, have always been fond of Spring Training because – at the risk of sounding sappy – it signals a new beginning, a good feeling of hope where even the teams that don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell to contend for, whom not losing 100 games would be an accomplishment, are in a good mood and believe that anything is possible.
Even though these next six weeks will be quite stressful for those rookies, minor leaguers and past-their-prime veterans who are trying to make the team.
I’m glad that #BaseballIsComing.
And I am eagerly anticipating Opening Day on April 2nd/3rd – or what I like to refer it as the real New Year’s Day.
An Angel making a play on a Dodger during a Spring Training contest. Photo courtesy of rumbunter.com