MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Dodgers hurting as season approaches

Team could open 2016 with 8-10 players on DL

Dodgers hurting as season approaches

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers may spend more money, create more analytic reports and have more high-level executives than any other team in baseball, but they still feel aches and pains, just like every other team in baseball.

Actually, they are feeling them more than most every other team this spring.

The Dodgers' projected starting infield has yet to play one inning together.

And it's not just the old guys who have been sidelined. The walking wounded include some of the young guys like Yasiel Puig (25), Corey Seager (21) and Kiké Hernandez (24), along with Yimi Garcia (25), who after being sidelined with a sore left knee, made his first relief appearance in six days Sunday, striking out Tyler Holt and Joey Votto before allowing a single to Seth Mejias-Brean.

A week away from opening the regular season, and manager Dave Roberts began his daily press briefing Sunday by explaining that Puig would be out of the lineup for the second straight day with an achy left hamstring but should be back on the field Monday.

Kendrick to stay behind when camp breaks

Fifteen minutes later, Roberts had finally run through the complete injury update report, which included the admission that second baseman Howie Kendrick (calf tightness) won't make the trip home to play against the Angels in the Freeway Series but shortstop Seager (sprained left knee) will.

That means Kendrick could wind up on the disabled list.

"I'm not concerned, but that's an option," said Roberts.

In between, Hernandez was reported to be "back to baseball activities" and left-hander Scott Kazmir was declared "fine, just a little cramping," causing his early removal from a Saturday start.

"When you envision things, how they will progress and get guys ready, this is not the way it plays out," said Roberts. "So you try to mix and match. I am still confident come April 4 (for the regular-season opener at San Diego), we will be ready."

Not ready the way the architects envisioned in January, but ready just the same.

Think about it.

The top three starting pitchers coming into Spring Training remain the top three starting pitchers, although Kazmir does have a 7.71 spring ERA and did have to come out of that Saturday start with abdominal tightness.

Clayton Kershaw (2.25) and Kenta Maeda (1.89 after 5 1/3 innings and two earned runs against the Reds on Sunday) have been all the Dodgers could have wanted. Oh, and center fielder Joc Pederson (.283) hasn't missed a beat.

Every other projected regular has been slowed by injuries.

The list includes left fielder Andre Ethier (fractured right tibia), left-handed starters Brett Anderson (bulging disk) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (left shoulder surgery), catcher Yasmani Grandal (strained forearm), right-hander Brandon McCarthy (Tommy John surgery) and Kendrick are in line to open the season on the disabled list. There's also the possibility of right-hander Mike Bolsinger (right oblique) and infielder Alex Guerrero (left knee sprain) being sidelined.

The injured players combined with the $12 million the Dodgers will pick up this year for the trades last summer of Michael Morse ($8.5 million) and Matt Kemp ($3.5 million) add up to an $82.1 million Opening Day obligation to players not even on the active roster.

That's more than the entire season-opening roster a year ago of the Marlins ($69.0 million), Astros ($72.5 million) and Rays ($75.8 million).

And that is if Seager, Puig and Kazmir can make onto the active roster Opening Day.

Not all has gone bad for the Dodgers. Rotation concerns have been eased by the spring efforts of Maeda and Zach Lee, who is emerging as one of the final two starters with Alex Wood. There also is reason to believe Julio Urias, a 19-year-old lefty, could be ready at some point this season.

On the other hand, the two teams expected to provide the biggest challenges for the Dodgers in their bid to claim a fourth consecutive National League West title are closing in on the end of Spring Training relatively healthy.

D-backs center fielder A.J. Pollock is slowed by right elbow soreness, and Giants right-hander Matt Cain is moving forward in his return from removal of a cyst in his right arm.

Tough luck?

Nah, just the way things go.

"Nobody feels sorry for you," the late Jim Fregosi would say when injury problems arose. "So you better not get bogged down feeling sorry for yourself."

The season, after all, starts in a week.

No mulligans allowed.

Tracy Ringolsby is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.