Dodgers ready to get first look at Greinke, Ryu
Crawford, Kemp among position players to join pitchers, catchers on report day
GLENDALE, Ariz. –- Led by ace Clayton Kershaw, every pitcher and catcher was accounted for Tuesday on reporting day for the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch Glendale. Among the position players who already checked in were rehabbing outfielders Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford.
The first battery workout at Camelback Ranch-Glendale will be Wednesday. Position players report Friday, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Saturday.
With their immense payroll and flashy new signings, there were already cautionary comments coming from the clubhouse.
"I've been through this," pitcher Josh Beckett said of the big-name acquisitions, referring to his time with the Boston Red Sox. "Baseball is not played on paper. We've got to work hard in Spring Training. A lot of things are going to happen throughout the year you can't foresee. Depth becomes a big part of it."
As a starting pitcher, Beckett and the Dodgers' depth are part of what catcher A.J. Ellis calls the elephant in the room -- eight starting pitchers, five starting jobs.
After spending $200 million for winter rotation upgrades Zack Greinke and Korean sensation Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers open camp with eight well-paid starting pitchers -- Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, Chad Billingsley, Beckett, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly.
Combined, they will earn $90 million in 2013, although at least one of them figures to earn his pay elsewhere via trade once the health of Billingsley (torn elbow ligament) and Lilly (shoulder surgery) is established.
Billingsley said he believes the elbow injury is behind him and he's ready to go at full speed. Lilly said he, too, is confident he will be ready for a typical workload once games start.
With Kershaw confident that last year's hip impingement is no longer an issue, the only other question with him is how massive his contract extension will be. General manager Ned Colletti has hinted that talks will begin soon, but "quietly."
Speaking of contract extensions, manager Don Mattingly doesn't have one, which will be another spring storyline. Unlike last Spring Training, when the team fought the distractions of a bankruptcy auction to find a new owner, this camp opens with high expectations and the pressure that goes with them.
Along with his future, Mattingly will have plenty of baseball issues on his plate. The obvious one will be the handling of Capuano, Harang and Lilly, all members of last year's rotation, all seemingly squeezed out of roles with the arrivals of Beckett, Greinke and Ryu.
The bullpen appears nearly as loaded, with Brandon League locked up for three years and $22.5 million to close, backed up by Kenley Jansen coming off heart surgery, Ronald Belisario arriving early again and J.P. Howell coming in with Scott Elbert out indefinitely following a second elbow operation.
Javy Guerra, the closer for part of 2012, is on the rebound after collarbone surgery, while Matt Guerrier is determined to prove in the final year of his contract that he's healed from a strained flexor tendon in his forearm. Youngsters Paco Rodriguez, Stephen Fife and Josh Wall could all be headed back to the Minor Leagues.
Rick Honeycutt returns for his eighth season as pitching coach, but there's been an offseason tweak with the naming of bullpen coach Ken Howell as assistant pitching coach, and the promotion of Double-A pitching coach Chuck Crim to bullpen coach.
Catching, an unknown last year with Ellis getting his first starting chance, is settled with Ellis' emergence as a player and a leader. Now the question is whether rookie Tim Federowicz is ready to be a big league backup.
When the position players report, the Dodgers will get their first measured look at all of the high-priced pieces acquired last year, most notably Crawford, who is coming off Tommy John surgery and a sour experience in Boston after signing a $142 million contract.
His health, and that of Kemp's surgically repaired left shoulder, will go a long way in determining the potency of the revamped offense, although neither is expected to be 100 percent at the start of camp, with the hope they will be at the start of the season.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.