AJ Ellis celebrates his game winning 3 run homer

Dodgers Opening Day 1 Week Away

The Dodgers kept the good times rolling with a 7 run 9th inning to defeat division rival Colorado  7-5 in Cactus League action today. The big blow came courtesy of A.J. Ellis, the seemingly forgotten man in the battle for backup catcher, who blasted a walk-off 3 run homer. The timing could not have been better for Ellis who is trying to show Dodger management that he, not Hector Gimenez, should begin the season as the team’s primary backup catcher.

That position may have become available today when Dioner Navarro was taken for an MRI for what club officials fear may be a strained oblique. If the results come back as expected, Navarro would join Jon Garland, Vicente Padilla and Casey Blake on the disabled list to begin the season.

The injuries will no doubt give someone, such as a Xavier Paul, Hector Gimenez, Scott Elbert, or Tim Redding, a spot on the opening day roster, rather than beginning the season at AAA or on another team. Lasorda’s Lair will make our case for who we think will be on the opening day roster, rather than who we would like to see make the final cut.

As of right now it looks like there are 18 players who are locks to be a part of the final 25. Here’s our predictions of who the final 7 will be: 

Starting pitchers (4): Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly +1 Jon Garland on April 12 (most likely Garland should be ready to pitch when his turn in the rotation comes up on April 12. Tim Redding could be the 5th starter but would have to be added to the 40 man roster. Rubby De La Rosa has pitched the best of any potential 5th starter but will most likely begin the season in the minors)

Relief pitchers (8): Jonathan Broxton, Matt Guerrier, Blake Hawksworth, Kenley Jansen, Hong-Chih Kuo +3 Mike MacDougal, Scott Elbert and Ramon Troncoso (Mike MacDougal still hasn’t given up a run this spring and the lefty Elbert has rebounded from his tough start and clearly out pitched Ron Mahay.  I give Troncoso the nod over Lance Cormier and Travis Schlicting. I also think the Dodgers will keep 12 pitchers since early in the season you never know what you will get out of your starters, and Troncoso gets sent down once Garland is ready to come off the DL) That brings the total to 21.

Catcher (2): Rod Barajas +1 Hector Gimenez (My guess is Navarro begins the season on the DL which opens a spot for Hector Gimenez who is already on the 40 man roster is a switch hitter who can also play first base and left field. AJ Ellis has an option to be sent to AAA and I think he will as I don’t think the Dodgers will keep 3 catchers)

Infielders (6): James Loney, Juan Uribe, Rafael Furcal, Jamey Carroll +2 Aaron Miles, and Juan Castro. (It’s certianly not the most marquee bench, and a month ago I would have never said both would make the final 25 man roster, but Miles and Castro have both had solid springs and can both play multiple positions. The Dodgers have already stated they want Ivan De Jesus Jr to get regular at bats and the only place that happens is AAA. IDJ had 3 more hits today and has proven this spring he is back from his injury problems. I would love to see him given the second base job while Uribe plays 3rd until Casey Blake returns from the DL but I just don’t see it happening. Look for Castro to be waived once Blake returns from the DL.)

Outfielders (5): Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Tony Gwynn Jr., Marcus Thames +1 Xavier Paul (I give the nod to Paul over Gibbons mainly because Gibbons has been terrible this spring, even after he got his contact lens problem fixed. He has 4 singles in 36 AB’s, add in the fact that Paul is out of options and is also a better defender I put him on the squad. The club also saves a couple of hundred thousand dollars off of Gibbons contract if he doesn’t make the opening day roster so it’s not an expensive move to cut him. I think he clears waivers, really who else would want him, and he begins the season at AAA)

With 6 more days until opening day there is an opportunity for some changes and certianly the roster predictions could change depending on who starts the season on the DL. The biggest concern is the lack of power off the bench, especially when Thames is in the starting lineup. So Dodger Nation what are your thoughts? Am I missing someone? I’d love to hear your feedback.

The Dodgers have 2 games tomorrow, 1:05 pm PT vs Arizona in Tucson to benefit the Arizona shooting victims, and a 7:05 pm PT game @ Seattle. Mike will be back tomorrow with his Dodger observations.

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Tags: A.J. Ellis Aaron Miles Dioner Navarro Hector Gimenez Ivan Dejesus Jr Jay Gibbons Jon Garland Juan Castro Mike MacDougal Ramon Troncoso Rubby De La Rosa Scott Elbert Xavier Paul

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