Pitchers and catchers for the Dodgers and Angels officially report today, a sign that baseball fans everywhere know means that Spring Training has officially begun.
Position players will report a week later and both teams start their Spring Training schedule on Saturday, February 23rd, when the Dodgers face off against the Chicago White Sox and the Angels play host to the San Francisco Giants.
After finishing the 2018 season fourth in the AL West with an 80-82 record, the Angels are hoping to ride slugger Mike Trout back to the playoffs after an offseason during which the team didn’t sign anyone beyond 2019. They’ll be hoping to give Trout a reason to stay in L.A. long-term, as he has just two years left on the contract extension he signed in 2015 and would likely be the biggest free agent on the market if he were to decide to test his value.
Angels GM Billy Eppler did add starting pitchers Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill to the roster, no doubt in part to help fill the gap that will be left in the starting rotation by the absence of Japanese two-way phenom and 2018 AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani, who isn’t expected to pitch again until 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery late last year. The Angels will also begin this season with a new manager, Brad Ausmus, after longtime Angels skipper Mike Scoscia retired at the end of last year after 18 years leading the team. It’ll be tough sailing, though, as the Angels will need to knock off the Mariners, Athletics, and defending AL West Champion Houston Astros, all of whom finished with better records than the Halos last year.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, begin yet another quest for redemption. After falling to the Boston Red Sox in five games in the 2018 World Series, they will attempt to reach their third Fall Classic in as many years and finally end the now two decade-long World Series drought. They finished last season 92-71 and won the NL West for the sixth straight year.
Most of the big names from last year’s team are returning, though fans will notice the absence of slugging third baseman Manny Machado, who became a free agent at the end of last year after being traded to L.A. mid-season. The good news is 2016 NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager will return to his position at shortstop after missing most of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll reunite KPCC’s “Triple Play” of baseball experts – Larry Mantle, “Take Two” host A Martinez, “All Things Considered” host Nick Roman – to preview the 2019 season for both teams.