The Dodgers’ position player group for opening day is set.
Dave Roberts on Monday announced Edwin Ríos will be the 12th position player on the club’s roster. Ríos beat out veterans Jake Lamb and Kevin Pillar for the spot after a strong showing in the Cactus League. The infielder went seven for 21 with three home runs in 10 games.
“He’s earned it,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers will carry 12 position players and 16 pitchers with an expanded 28-man roster to start the season. Roberts said the club still hasn’t finalized its bullpen. The Dodgers open the season Friday in Denver against the Colorado Rockies.
It’s been almost a year since Riós’ career skidded to a crash. He was off to a historically bad start, going four for 51 in 25 games, with his right shoulder in constant pain. Finally, he spoke up and his season was soon over when he underwent surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder in early May.
“Sometimes you get surgery, you just never know what can happen to your body, or how you’ll ever come back after having surgery,” Ríos, 27, said. “I just made a big effort to work my tail off, to try to get as healthy as possible, as strong as possible.”
The suspense surrounding the final position player spot on the Dodgers’ roster had already buried Monday when triple-A Oklahoma City unveiled its roster and Lamb and Pillar on it.
Both veterans were invited to spring training on minor-league deals.
Lamb fits the same profile as Ríos: A left-handed-hitting corner infielder with pop. Lamb, 33, was an All-Star for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017, belting 30 home runs, before injuries derailed his career. But he impressed Dodgers brass this spring enough to warrant consideration, going nine for 27 with two home runs in 12 spring training games.
“I feel very fondly of Jake,” Roberts said. “It’s a tough game, sometimes to have that conversation when you know a player, or players, as talked about, are deserving, but he’s a pro.”
Pillar, 33, was a different option. The West Hills native bats right-handed and has established himself as one of the best defensive outfielders in the majors over the last decade. A chance to make the roster seemingly opened last week when the Dodgers flipped AJ Pollock, another right-handed-hitting outfielder, for closer Craig Kimbrel.
“Kevin is a Los Angeles guy,” Roberts said. “Grew up rooting for the Dodgers. I just wish I would’ve played with the guy. He’s a guy that I just love watching, admiring. And to see him in a Dodger uniform, it looks right, and he’s a major league player. Fortunately, for the Dodgers, he’s open to taking an assignment to triple A. But there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll come up and help us at some point.”