Pederson earns spot as Dodgers set 25-man roster

Rodriguez, Garcia, Baez beat out Huff, Santos, Aardsma for bullpen spots

Pederson earns spot as Dodgers set 25-man roster

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers on Saturday set their 25-man active roster for Opening Day, with Paco Rodriguez, Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez beating out David Huff, Sergio Santos, David Aardsma and Adam Liberatore for the last three bullpen spots.

"We feel very strongly we sent down some Major League players. But it's the sign of a good team to have depth," said Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations. "I'm excited about the 25 guys that we'll open with, but it extends beyond the 25."

Huff, Santos and Aardsma were reassigned to Minor League camp following Saturday's game.

In the only other close competition, Darwin Barney beat out rookie Kiké Hernandez for the last bench spot. Hernandez was optioned following the game, along with outfielder Chris Heisey and Liberatore.

Friedman said he believes the bullpen, despite the absence of the injured Kenley Jansen and Brandon League, will be "in pretty good shape" because of the off-days early in the season.

He also said Barney's experience was a factor in the decision to keep him over the inexperienced Hernandez, whom the club prefers to have playing every day at Triple-A.

The club will initially have an 11-man pitching staff and four starters, not needing a fifth starter until April 13 or 14. Of the 20 non-roster invitees to Spring Training, none made the 25-man roster.

There are three rookies on the roster -- Joc Pederson, Garcia and Baez.

Manager Don Mattingly came close to confirming that Pederson had won the starting center field job.

"You can read between the lines" if you've been watching, Mattingly said of Pederson, who started in center field all three games of the Freeway Series against the Angels.

Pederson's primary competition for the job was Andre Ethier, who will be an extra outfielder and key left-handed pinch-hitter, if he isn't traded.

Pederson started 20 games in center field this spring, 15 more than Ethier, and went into Saturday's game hitting .349 with a team-high six homers and 13 RBIs, which are tied for the club lead.

After management collected a large group of often-injured, free-agent pitchers, the Dodgers will open the season with five pitchers on the disabled list, headed by closer Jansen and No. 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, with another two non-roster invitees rehabbing -- Erik Bedard and Chad Gaudin.

With Jansen out, Mattingly reiterated that he will close by committee, relying on matchups. Hard-throwing Chris Hatcher is likely to get first crack at winning the job.

The roster:

Starting pitchers -- Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson.

Relief pitchers -- Hatcher, J.P. Howell, Joel Peralta, Rodriguez, Garcia, Juan Nicasio, Baez.

Infielders -- Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, Juan Uribe, Justin Turner, Alex Guerrero, Barney.

Outfielders -- Yasiel Puig, Pederson, Carl Crawford, Ethier, Scott Van Slyke.

Catchers -- Yasmani Grandal, A.J. Ellis.

Disabled list -- Jansen, Ryu, Chris Withrow, Brandon Beachy, Brandon League.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.