With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Dodgers squad each day this week. Today's topic: Who might surprise?
LOS ANGELES -- Scott Kazmir and Andre Ethier proved doubters wrong before, and they are positioned to be potential surprises for the Dodgers heading into the 2017 season.
Kazmir, signed a year ago to a three-year, $48 million contract, went 10-6 with a 4.56 ERA but made only one start after Aug. 22 because of thoracic inflammation. Ethier, about to enter the final year of a five-year contract, had his 2016 season destroyed in Spring Training when he fouled a pitch that fractured his right leg.
The Dodgers appear to be loaded with starting pitchers, but Kazmir -- who led the American League in starts and strikeouts in 2007 with the Rays -- said he's completely healthy and wants his job back.
"It feels like [my body] is back to Tampa Bay-live," Kazmir, 33, said at the recent FanFest. "I'm three weeks ahead of schedule. I want to be at the top of that rotation. The way things went last year, I have a chip on my shoulder, and I want to prove to the fans and the front office that brought me here that they made the right decision."
Management is considering holding back Urias in extended spring workouts to limit his innings, opening up more early starts for Kazmir and company.
Kazmir was an All-Star in 2006 and '08, tumbled all the way down to independent ball in '12 and was an All-Star again in '14, so he's proven at bouncing back. His name has cropped up in trade rumors, but Kazmir said he wasn't fazed, having been traded three times.
"I knew no matter what it would come up," he said. "Bottom line, this is the place I want to be."
Ethier's career hasn't been that volatile, but he lost his job in 2014 (hitting .249) only to win it back in 2015 (.294).
"It feels great," Ethier said on AM 570 Dodger Talk. "I've been doing my regular training in Phoenix, haven't had any holdbacks. Fully running, jumping, cutting, in cleats, running bases and hitting drills. Not thinking about it, there's no limitations from the injury. It was just a fluke accident, hit me in the perfect spot. Once it's healed, it's healed. Last year was frustrating, but spring brings new excitement."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.