Dodgers FanFest 2019: Dave Roberts Interview

On his offseason:

“It’s been good. It’s been busy. Personally, I’ve enjoyed a couple vacations so I’m kind of recharged and ready to go out to CBR (Camelback Ranch).”

On AJ Pollock:

“I’m excited. Until it finally gets done, you hold your breath. I’ve seen AJ for quite some time. I think for me, everything I’ve heard as far as the preparation and what we see on a nightly basis: the way he plays, the intensity, the focus; he’s going to fit in really well with our ball club.”

On how he sees team getting better in 2019:

“I think Joe Kelly really tightening up our bullpen. Also with the strides of Baez and Ferguson, I think our bullpen is in a really good spot. Obviously, getting Cingrani back as well. Starting staff, you lose Wood but then you’re counting on Ryu coming back healthy and Urias to come back. Then with the depth that we have and Walker taking strides, on the starting staff I still like the depth and talent. Position player-wise, now I think that adding AJ doesn’t make us as vulnerable against left-handed pitching. There’s a lot more balance. And defensively, I think that with the guys we have and with Verdugo as a young player potentially getting a nice runway, he can do some things on both sides of the baseball. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be better. You lose a catcher in Grandal but the tandem of Barnes and Martin, I think the individual at-bat quality should be better. I can’t say the production but I still think that those guys in the lineup and handling a pitching staff is not a whole lot of drop off.”

“You’re also getting Corey Seager back too. You lose guys like Kemp and Puig but Pollock has been a very consistent player so I think that having him and Seager back, I think offensively we’ll be a lot more consistent.”

On Pollock being an everyday player:

“I don’t think that you go out and sign a player like that to even bring in the word platoon. You look at last year, I think he hit right-handers better than he did left-handers. He’s a guy that I think is going to play every day. I think the idea of giving him days off, getting ahead of things; with the rigors of a long season, that’s something I’ll have a conversation with him. When you’re talking about every day versus not every day, he’s an everyday player.”

On Max Muncy repeating his 2018 success:

“There’s going to be a little bit of adjustment. Against a lefty in the second half, he really curtailed. I talked to him a couple weeks ago, he’s in great shape. He’s a very intelligent baseball player. He knows the strike zone. To bet on him having a follow-up season like that, I think it’s a fair ask. That still remains to be seen because this league is very good and they exploit weaknesses. But his ability to differentiate between strike and ball is a huge plus for him.”

On Year 2 World Series hangover:

“You never really want to address the elephant in the room but I haven’t addressed it with the team yet. I’m seeing how the mood is when we get to CBR. Where we we’re at, ’17 was a lot tougher. Last year what we went through and how we fought to get back to the World Series, it was a positive season. Ultimately we didn’t win a championship but I think there was a lot of people that counted us out in April. Our mindset will be a positive one.”

On 2B situation:

“I can see Max at second base a little bit. I can see Kiké and Taylor vying for at-bats at second base. I can see Kiké and Taylor spelling Corey a little bit at short. Second base is something where we have a lot of options but we haven’t defined who’s going to get the lion’s share yet.”

On the focus coming into spring training:

“Finding the balance between getting prepared, their at-bats and the pitches and the pitch counts versus not taxing them too much. Recovery is part of the focus. It’s a good talented group. It’s a professional group. Even our young players have been to the World Series two years in a row. It’s a group that knows how to prepare for a major league season.”

On early-season issues in 2018:

“I do think that if you look at the workload last year, we did a lot less than we did in year’s past. Losing Justin Turner hurt too. He’ll never say that. I don’t like that term hangover. It’s on me and the coaches to make sure that we’re not talking about hangovers so we can get out of the gates the way we’re supposed to.”

On communication after Rich Hill World Series situation:

“It is [a learning lesson]. In that situation you never want it to happen. Any manager, if there’s no clarity in a situation then that’s on that person. I have no problem with trying to get better at that. That’s something I’ve got to continue to get better at.”

On Cody Bellinger’s role:

“Pollock is going to get the lion’s share in center field. With Cody, I expect him to log the most plate appearances this year as a player. Where that is, I’ll have that conversation with Cody. He’s a young, versatile, athletic player that gives you good at-bats, is productive offensively, and defensively he’s very talented. When he’s in the lineup, he makes us better. We’ll have that conversation.”

On improving consistency in 2019:

“Offensively, that’s why you bring in guys like AJ Pollock. Having Corey Seager back will add to that consistency. There’s guys that we had that were very streaky last year. Some guys are still with us, some guys aren’t. It’s not an exact science but you look at certain track records at some of the guys we’re adding to our lineup: a little bit more consistent and that’s our focus.”

On leaner Kenley Jansen:

“I do [like the leaner Kenley Jansen]. Kenley had an unfortunate wakeup call with the heart. We took care of that with the surgery and he’s in fantastic shape. The thing is, you worry about if you lose weight, will you lose strength and velocity? He says he feels just as strong as he ever has. He’s got more energy than he did before. We’ll see when he gets on a mound.”

“With Kenley, it’s not always about velocity. It’s about the late movement. Whether he’s throwing 94 or 90 and it’s straight, he’s a different pitcher when he’s throwing 90 or 94 with that late cut. We’ll see. Health is No. 1 and we need that late life in his arm.”

Written by Vince Samperio


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