Roberts focuses on unity in first spring address as manager
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Dave Roberts' spring training address as the new manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers focused on unity and the one thing that has eluded an otherwise successful team in recent years: the World Series.
''It was good to get the guys here together as a team,'' Roberts, who was hired in November to succeed Don Mattingly, said Thursday. ''There's a lot of focus on trying to accomplish our goal. I think we all have the goal of winning a World Series, as do 29 other teams. We talked about what that is going to entail.''
There's nothing new about the goal. It's been there since 2013, an expectation heightened by the highest payroll in the major leagues. Each time, however, the Dodgers have fallen short.
''With a long season, there's ups and there's downs, there's adversity,'' Roberts said. ''I was just conveying to the guys that we got to lean on one another, we got to care about one another. There were certain things I wanted to convey to the players. At the end of the day, I had to be myself. When you try to think too much about these opening speeches, you wind up being somebody you're not. It's important be authentic.''
For players in the Dodger clubhouse, the first-year manager sounded a lot like the player he was and the bench coach he has been.
''He sounded cool,'' Carl Crawford said. ''He's an optimistic guy. You can feel that. He's about team. That's where his focus was.''
There are several challenges awaiting Roberts. The Dodgers lost starting pitcher Zack Greinke, who jumped to division rival Arizona, signing a six-year, $206.5 million contract in December.
Clayton Kershaw is still at the top of the Dodger order, but the pitching rotation's order is unclear. Projected starters are Brett Anderson, Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda. Hyun-Jin Ryu, the No. 3 starter in 2013 and 2014, missed all of last season because of shoulder surgery. Ryu has been throwing bullpen sessions, but it's not clear if he'll be ready by opening day.
Brandon McCarthy is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. He won't be ready opening day. But he has begun to throw in the bullpen. During the season's first couple of months, Alex Wood could be the No. 5 starter.
There's also uncertainty in the outfield. Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke, Trayce Thompson and Crawford are the leading possibilities.
Roberts is optimistic about his infield. Adrian Gonzalez, a team leader and one of its most reliable bitters, is back at first base. Justin Turner, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in October, is set to be the everyday third baseman. Howie Kendrick and Chase are set to share the duties at second base.