Dodgers News: Austin Barnes Tracking For More Starts Than Will Smith

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Heading into the 2020 season, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts indicated Will Smith would receive the majority of starts at catcher but Austin Barnes would remain involved. As recently as last week, Roberts reiterated it would amount to Smith catching three of the first five games.

“I think if you look at a five-man rotation, I can see right now to start, Will taking three out of five and Austin two out of five. And we’ll see where we go from there,” he said.

However, it’s tracking to unfold as the opposite. Barnes was behind the plate on Opening Day, again Saturday, and is expected to start Tuesday’s series opener against the Houston Astros. That’s despite taking a foul ball off his right wrist in the loss to the San Francisco Giants.

He remained in the game at the time but later was lifted in favor of a pinch-hitter. Roberts assured that was not injury-related. During exhibition play Barnes was hit by a pitch in his left wrist, but X-rays came back negative and he returned two days later.

Despite Barnes taking his lumps over the past week, Roberts doesn’t see it necessary for the team to add a third catcher to the active roster. “No, not right now. I think both guys are very durable. I just don’t think it makes sense right now to carry three,” he said.

Barnes is 2-for-6 with one RBI, one walk and two strikeouts over three games (two starts) thus far. Smith has one hit — a home run in the ninth inning on Sunday — and two walks over two games (one start).

Dodgers taxi squad

Although Roberts doesn’t see it necessary for the Dodgers to active a third catcher, they will need to include one on their taxi squad during the upcoming road trip. MLB roster rules for the 2020 season permit teams to travel with a three-player taxi squad, with one required to be a catcher.

Keibert Ruiz is on the 40-man roster, but he was a late arrival to Summer Camp and at the time Roberts didn’t foresee one of the organization’s top prospects being among the players who taxi. “We haven’t made that decision,” Roberts said.

“I think right now Keibert’s got to ramp up and we’ll see where that leads him. But on the outset, that’s hard to imagine.”

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