Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers are off Thursday but the club still conducted roster changes by optioning both Adam Kolarek and Zach McKinstry to their alternate training site at USC. Doing so brought the Dodges active roster to the required 28 players.
While MLB allowed for teams to begin the 2020 season with an expanded roster of 30 players, the plan was always to trim two weeks into the season. Also expected to follow was reducing rosters to 26 players two weeks after that, where they would remain for the rest of the year.
However, in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and multiple teams experiencing outbreaks, MLB is permitting active rosters to remain at 28 players and taxi squad to increase from three to five for the remainder of the season.
McKinstry returns to USC one day after joining the Dodgers’ active roster for the first time in his career. “Zack is with us getting coverage,” manager Dave Roberts said before Wednesday’s game against the San Diego Padres.
“Eddie (Rios) took that ball off the foot, X-rays negative. He came in and said he feels good but just having that extra position player depth, Mookie obviously, don’t have his bat available so we just felt that with the pitching we do have to send Victor (Gonzalez) out, whose been good for us and I expect to see back at some point, it just seemed like the right decision.”
While McKinstry did not make his MLB debut, Kolarek heads to the alternate training site after having appeared in four games thus far. He’s 2-0 and allowed just two hits over 3.1 scoreless innings this season.
Kolarek was among four left-handed relief pitchers the Dodgers carried on their Opening Day roster. He’d developed a reputation as being a lefty specialist but was looking forward to pitching in a more traditional role this season as MLB implemented a three-batter rule.
“With Tampa, I would often go an inning-plus, two innings. I even went three innings one time in an extra-innings game. So for me, it was more of just needing to get back into that rhythm of seeing a righty in the box and attacking that hitter the way that I want to,” Kolarek recently said.
“I’m constantly talking with Mark (Prior) and [Connor McGuinness] and we’re looking at videos and preparing. I have all the confidence in the world in myself, and I think now I just have the opportunity to show everyone what I can do not just facing one batter.
“Even though I love that role, it’s fun, it’s exciting to come in just about every night or be available every night to face one hitter, but for me every offseason I’ve had as a professional, I never go in and only practice facing lefties. I practice against righties, and I’m looking forward to show what I can do against them as the season goes on.”
Roberts lauds MLB for ‘right’ change
Roberts had previously hinted when it came time to trim the roster that the Dodgers would likely do so from their excess of pitching. Although McKinstry was optioned as well, he was only with the team for one night and took the place of Victor Gonzalez, who was recalled last week.
Even with facing the prospect of needing to make difficult decisions, Roberts credited MLB for adjusting to a new reality.
“I think they got it right, Major League Baseball and the Players Association,” he said. “I think that getting it down to 28 makes it more of baseball that we know, so there’s not as much matching up potential.
“And the extra taxi squad I think gives everyone coverage, so I think they nailed it.”
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