The Dodgers’ projected opening-day starter, Chad Billingsley, was solid in his first full season in the rotation but melted down in the National League Championship Series and suffered a broken leg this winter. Clayton Kershaw can’t legally drink a beer until March 19. Hiroki Kuroda is 34 years old but has started only 31 major league games and isn’t scheduled to throw his first bullpen session of the year until Monday because of concerns about his arthritic shoulder. Randy Wolf, who was signed a week ago, broke down in the middle of the last season he pitched for the Dodgers.
For a lot of reasons, I’m especially excited about the start of the 2009 baseball season. It could be the fact that Tanaya and I will be doing a less-than-48-hour turnaround to Phoenix to see two Dodger preseason games. (I read the guide to the complex in the LA Times yesterday and am even more excited!) Or it could be that tomorrow morning, I will be going to Dodger stadium to purchase a mini-plan of season tickets. (We’ll hopefully be in one of my favorite spots on the planet: Top Deck Section 5, Row 3 of Dodger Stadium.) Or it could be meeting Vin Scully and Peter O’Malley a couple of weeks ago and all the memories that it brought about. Or it could be that somewhere around October, I left my broken heart in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
So, yesterday I pulled up the roster to see who’s around, who’s gone, etc. I suddenly had this flashback to sophomore year in high school and how baseball started in January with scouting reports. Sadly, in the past 10 years life has become a lot more busy, and an obsession of that magnitude is not very likely, but who knows.
Pitching makes me nervous as it always does. Actually, that’s not true. For a glorious three years, it wasn’t a question of if we’d have pitchers by Opening Day, but which pitcher would be the Opening Day starter. I hope that we can have a battle like that during Spring training for a true Opening Day starter. Ah….Ramon Martinez, Ismael Valdes, Hideo Nomo, even Pedro Astacio and Tom Candiotti! I miss that year-in, year-out rotation. It’ll be interesting, though, to see if anyone emerges as the favorite for that honor.
All things considered, the start of baseball season is hands-down the best time of the year.