Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
One of the biggest questions facing the Los Angeles Dodgers right now is who will be the primary center fielder.
Cody Bellinger had been the starter for the previous few seasons, but the Dodgers decided to non-tender him due to his struggles and he signed with the Chicago Cubs.
To replace him, it has been presumed their primary options competing for the position are Jason Heyward, Bradley Zimmer, James Outman, Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson.
Of that group, it seemed Taylor may have been the odd man out due to his positional versatility to fill in at any other position. However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed Taylor will be part of the mix in center field to begin the season, according to David Vassegh of SportsNet LA:
Dave Roberts said Chris Taylor will be part of #Dodgers CF equation to open the season.
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) February 21, 2023
Taylor has played 1,360.1 career innings in center field, including 75.1 last season. In 118 games, the 32-year-old batted just .221/.304/.373 with 25 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 43 RBI and 10 stolen bases across 454 plate appearances.
After the disappointing year, he went to the data-driven Driveline Baseball facility to try to get back on track.
Taylor will likely see most of his starts there against left-handed pitching while Outman, Heyward and Zimmer compete to be his platoon partner against right-handed pitchers.
So far, Heyward has been impressive during camp and could be the favorite to share time with Taylor in center field, but Outman has the most upside of the group and may eventually take over as the full-time starter at the position.
But as always, things can change quickly, and just recently at FanFest Roberts was still undecided on who will get the majority of the reps there. “I don’t. I think your guys’ guess right now is as good as mine,” he said.
However, it seems there is some clarity now coming into the position, as well as in left field, where David Peralta will likely platoon with Trayce Thompson.
Freddie Freeman thinks Jason Heyward can contribute to Dodgers
Freddie Freeman was pushing for the Dodgers to sign Heyward before he agreed to a Minor League deal with the team.
The pair was selected by the Braves in the 2007 MLB Draft, and they played for the team from 2010-2014. Since Heyward signed with the Dodgers, he’s worked with their hitting coaches and accompanied Freeman during recent offseason workouts.
“I believe a lot,” Freeman answered when asked how much Heyward is capable of contributing to the Dodgers.
“I’ve known him since I was 16 years old. I know what’s in there, I know he’s got a lot to prove. He’s got a little chip on his shoulder. I know he wants to come in and compete for a job. I hit with him, and it’s a very nice sound coming off the bat. He looks really good.
“He made some adjustments in his swing, his hands are a lot more quiet, and I think he’s going to be able to get to the ball a lot easier. He just looks so relaxed and comfortable with the adjustments he made. I’m hoping for a big spring from him and he gets on our team.”
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