Friedman sees depth as a positive challenge

Dodgers' surplus of talent sets up spring battles

Friedman sees depth as a positive challenge

PHOENIX -- Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts on Wednesday deflected questions about having too many quality players, an embarrassment of riches most clubs can only dream about.

The president of baseball operations and the Dodgers manager welcomed pitchers and catchers to Camelback Ranch-Glendale Wednesday for the start of Spring Training. But when asked about excess of starting pitchers and outfielders, the pair reflected on last year, when injuries quickly turned perceived surpluses into a mad scramble for healthy bodies.

"We saw the value of depth first-hand last year," Friedman said. "Hopefully it's something we see less of this year, but it's there. These things have a way of playing themselves out and when we get down to the end of Spring Training, hopefully we have some pretty tough decisions to make. Oftentimes they play out in ways that are tough to predict at this time."

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There was little clarity on how the club will defer innings for 20-year-old Julio Urias. Keeping him in extended spring training is an option, although Roberts and Friedman said he will begin camp as a starting pitcher making his regular turn.

"We'll figure it out as we get through spring," Friedman said about the rotation in general. "We're not spending a lot of time trying to put our Opening Day roster and 'pen together. At some point it will funnel down, but we have time to do that."

Urias on debut year, 2017

Updating players recovering from injuries, Roberts said Trayce Thompson is behind schedule in his recovery from broken vertebrae, but is doing all baseball activities, including running. Andre Ethier has told the club he is moving well on his healed broken leg and Roberts said the club is excited to see him return to the outfield.

Friedman said all reports on Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is out to reclaim his rotation spot after missing virtually two seasons with shoulder and elbow operations, are "extremely good" and Roberts said Ryu is under no restrictions or limitations.

Roberts clarified earlier comments on newly acquired second baseman Logan Forsythe being a "top of the order" batter, saying that doesn't necessarily mean he will bat leadoff, but he's likely to be in any of the top three spots in the order. Roberts also said he sees Forsythe as a possible backup to Justin Turner at third base, with Chase Utley at second, but doesn't consider Forsythe a backup shortstop.

Forsythe fills vital role

In the outfield, Roberts emphasized that having Yasiel Puig play right field every day would be a best-case scenario, if his performance justifies it.

"You look at his skill set defensively, there might not be a better right fielder in the game," Roberts said. "The adjustments at the plate he made at the end of last season, we're excited to see him out here. For us, the more he's out there, the better it is for the Dodgers."

Friedman said Cuban signee Jose Miguel Fernandez could be in camp as early as next week, when position players report. He will report to Major League camp, but because he hasn't played competitively for nearly two years, Friedman indicated Fernandez might need added playing time to work off the rust.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.