Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers are have only a handful of scrimmages and exhibition games remaining before Opening Day of the 2020 season, and Walker Buehler has yet to make an appearance since Summer Camp opened.
The same can’t be said for Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Julio Urias, Ross Stripling and Dustin May. Kershaw, Wood and Urias have secured spots in the rotation; while Stripling and May are competing to fill the void creating by David Price opting out of the 2020 season.
Buehler figures to slot in behind Kershaw, which makes his absence all the more curious. “He’s just a little bit behind the other guys,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained. “But once the season starts, whatever he can give us — with the extra pitchers on the staff — will be sufficient.”
Although the right-hander hasn’t pitched in an intrasquad game, Buehler has faced batters and is scheduled to do so again this week. “Sunday, I think he went one-plus, facing hitters in a live situation. I would expect him to do the same live BP, but a two-plus situation,” Roberts said. “And then after that his next outing would be in an exhibition or intrasquad game.”
Given where Buehler is at in the ramp-up process compared to the likes of Kershaw, Wood and Stripling, who each have logged a minimum of five-plus innings in at least an appearance, it raised questions over a potential injury.
Roberts didn’t explicitly deny that was the case, but offered an explanation. “Clayton, Ross, Woody and some other guys threw throughout quarantine. With Walker, he took some time off with the uncertainty,” he said.
“That was his decision, and Mark (Prior) was in tune with it. Just the buildup period for Walker is going to take a little bit longer. Ultimately, to get him at three or four innings when the season starts, with some guys behind him, he’ll be fine. We’ll just continue to build him up.”
Max Muncy also tracking for Opening Day roster
Muncy pinch-hit Tuesday night for his first appearance in a game since being hit by a pitch in his left ring finger on July 5. Nevertheless, like with Buehler, the Dodgers expect to have Muncy available come the start of the regular season.
“He’s kind of in rehab mode still. Taking swings in batting practice, he hasn’t taken grounders yet,” Roberts said. “I expect that here in the next day or two, but he’s been doing the defensive actions, working his legs, getting into that squat position, the left to right.
“So he’s doing all of that, staying in his spikes and keeping his arm going. I expect him to be our first baseman when the season starts.”
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