Sat. Dec 9th, 2023

LOS ANGELES — By baseball standards, Ross Stripling has certainly been a good soldier.

Over four seasons in the big leagues, he has accepted a swing-man role with the Dodgers that forced him to move back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen, returning to a long-relief role even after making the All-Star Game as a starter in 2018. This spring, he absorbed the news that the Dodgers had planned to trade him to the Angels only to have the deal fall through in very public fashion.

Then he reported for spring training and quickly learned that the Dodgers planned to fill out their starting rotation with Julio Urias and Alex Wood, signed as a free agent after a season that saw him make just seven starts due to a back injury.

“I was disappointed at the time because I remember wanting to feel like I had an opportunity to go earn a rotation spot,” Stripling said. “Then Urias was announced before we even played a game in spring, and then Woody was announced the five a few days later – you know, a few days into spring training.

“I felt that I didn’t really get a fair shake on trying to earn that spot and that’s not saying that Julio and Alex don’t deserve it. I mean, we’ve got seven, eight guys that could be in our starting rotation. So it’s certainly not a shot at them. It’s just that I guess I expected it to be more of an ongoing battle for the position throughout spring training.”

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Stripling said he spoke with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman at the time.

“I was disappointed that I found out through the media reporting before anyone told me in person,” Stripling said. “It’s not a big deal. It just went down that way and they have since come to me and said that we should have told you in person first, which is totally fine and there’s no issues with that. I’ve been in this position, basically, since I started as a Dodger, right? So I get built up and then we see where we’re at and this spring if everyone was healthy I was going to start in the bullpen.”

Stripling said he was told “you’re the first guy in if something happens to anyone in the rotation.” Something has already happened to create a vacancy.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in February, David Price was penciled in as the Dodgers’ No. 3 starter. However, he announced Saturday that he was choosing not to play in 2020 due to health concerns during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s not clear,” Friedman said of who will replace Price in the rotation. “I mean, Ross is capable of doing a lot of things and in our mind he’s an above-average starting pitcher. How things play out right now — we’re just kind of taking things one day at a time, and not thinking too far out. But there’s no question in our mind that Ross is very capable of being a really good starting pitcher in the big leagues.”

Young right-handers Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin are also strong candidates. With an abbreviated 60-game regular season planned, Friedman acknowledged there will be no reason to limit their workloads or put innings restrictions on them.

Stripling has been in Southern California since early June and has thrown to hitters multiple times. He is scheduled to throw four innings in a simulated-game situation during Monday’s workout, making him one of the more built-up pitchers on the Dodgers’ staff.

But Stripling’s greatest asset – his versatility – could be especially valuable this season in a non-starting role in which he can follow shortened starts with multi-inning relief.

“Look, I like this role. I think I’ve found a nice little niche role for myself where I can go both ways. I can start, relieve, I can get you one out in the eighth or I can go four innings in long relief to bridge a short start to the back of the bullpen,” Stripling said. “I’m totally fine with that. I like it. I think it’s a unique role and I enjoy being good at it.”


A number of players have yet to join the Dodgers’ workouts and Roberts confirmed that Kenley Jansen and A.J. Pollock are in that group. He would not say why they have yet to report.

Both have health issues that could be in play. Jansen has a heart condition that has required two surgical procedures in the past eight years. Pollock had a daughter born three months premature in May.

“We haven’t seen him yet,” Roberts said of Jansen. “I know that the last couple months he’s been active, he’s been around but we haven’t seen him yet.”

In Pollock’s case, Roberts said he hoped the outfielder would be in camp “soon.”


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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