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Dodgers' weak bench means their top guys had best stay healthy

April 05, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers infielder Adam Kennedy tosses a ball during a spring training practice session in Phoenix on Feb. 28.
Dodgers infielder Adam Kennedy tosses a ball during a spring training practice… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

If you look at the Dodgers' roster, one aspect that immediately jumps out is the team's amazing lack of depth. Thin as a tissue.

Individually, the reserves are all fine role players. Yet as a unit, they make for collective weakness.

Want to know the key to the Dodgers' season? It's not as much about whether James Loney can continue his second-half roll or Juan Uribe rediscovers how to hit as it is about the front-line players  staying healthy.

This is a team that cannot afford serious injury to its oh-so few stars.

"The biggest concern is, I don’t think we can afford major injuries to major guys," said Manager Don Mattingly. "Our core guys are going to have to be pretty good for us all year long. If we lose one of those guys ... "

Think at this point, Mattingly then cover his eyes.

Last year Matt Kemp had an outstanding season, but Andre Ethier battled injury and the team went nowhere. One of those guys goes down again this season, and you can forget it.

These are the Dodgers' 2012 reserves: Infielders Adam Kennedy and Justin Sellers, outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr. and Jerry Hairston Jr., and catcher Matt Treanor.

Contain that enthusiasm.

It's a bench riddled with singles hitters. Nice, versatile players defensively, who all kind of do the same thing offensively. They have so many versatile infielders, they're now listing Hairston as an outfielder. And they didn't even bring back Aaron Miles.

The rotation is similar in that they have one superstar in Clayton Kershaw and then four pretty good starting pitchers. Pitchers good enough to win on any night, or maybe, just good enough to lose on any night.

And Ted Lilly is 36, and Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano are both 33. Like the chances of all three of these guys staying healthy all year? Lilly is already going to miss his first start with a sore neck.

There appears precious little behind them too. There is Nathan Eovaldi, who will start the season in double-A, followed by a bunch of guys whose names you might as well pull out of a hat.

It’s the Dodgers' 2012 mantra -- no injuries allowed. At least not to the big boys.

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