Every so often a non-roster invite who may have flown under the radar or perhaps battled injury in the past impresses enough in Spring Training to win a spot on the Major League Opening Day roster. Mike MacDougal was one of those NRIs who ended up with the Dodgers after pitching well in camp. Even though his one season with the Dodgers was fleeting, MacDougal contributed some solid relief work in 2011 after making the team out of Spring.
We are all watching the progress of Chad Billingsley, Carl Crawford, Ted Lilly, and Matt Kemp as they try to bounce back after serious injury and rehab. The starting pitcher surplus is another story which we are waiting on the outcome to. Most likely Aaron Harang or Chris Capuano will be dealt before April 1st. Then there is the infield experimentation as Don Mattingly has started Juan Uribe at first, Nick Punto at shortstop (please, never again), and other utility guys like Jerry Hairston Jr. and Skip Schumaker will be played around the diamond as well. There’s also a slew of non-roster invites who are playing to try to break through and win a spot on the roster.
Alfredo Amezaga, a utility infielder who has been plagued with knee injuries over the years, has been impressing thus far in camp. Amezaga, who will be the starting center fielder for Team Mexico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, also won the batting title in the Mexican Winter League. Could Amezaga land a spot on the Dodgers and help to solidify a somewhat fluid infield situation?
Wearing No. 0, the switch-hitting utility man is hitting .455 with 5 hits and 4 RBI in his 11 at-bats so far this Spring. He hasn’t struck out nor walked. The 35-year old is very versatile, and he has played every position in the field except pitcher and catcher. He has played a majority of time in center field, which could be useful when Matt Kemp needs a break. The Dodgers are looking for a fourth outfielder, and Carl Crawford’s recent forearm soreness means that that need is especially important coming out of Spring Training.
Amezaga has played parts of nine seasons with the Angels, Rockies, and Marlins. He’s a career .247 hitter over hit 584 Major League games. In 2007 with the Marlins, Amezaga hit .263 with 9 homeruns and 30 RBI in 133 games played. He missed the entire 2010 season with injury.
It’s still early, but if Alfredo Amezaga continues to play well and stay healthy, he may just land a spot on the Dodger bench.