Dusty on Keppinger, the rotation
It certainly looks like Jeff Keppinger will be the starting shortstop if Alex Gonzalez begins the near on the disabled list, which is a near lock. I asked Dusty Baker about the fact that Keppinger is starting nearly every game at short:
"I heard he played short most of the year, With (Gonzalez) out, I’ve got to see what he can do. I know he can hit. But that up-the-middle defense is critical. You like to see offense. But certain position on the field, you need defense and leadership. That’s one of them.”
“I want to see him defensively. You know Brandon (Phillips) is going to be at second base. You want your potential shortstops to work with your second baseman. That double play is the most important defensive play out there. You want to get that right.
“Yesterday the double play was a little slow. I thought it was a sure double play. That’s what spring training is for. You work on feeds and how quickly you get the ball.
“Let’s face it, Kep’s a good player. But it’s hard to beat Gonzalez at shortstop. That’s no slight on Kep. It’s a compliment to Gonzo.”
Baker was also asked about competition for the rotation.
“There’s plenty of competition. It’s a matter of how open-minded we allow ourselves to remain.”
Baker said he wasn't just talking about being opewn-minded about the young guys.
"Quite frankly, I get tired of hearing young or old. I’d rather hear is good or bad, good or great.”
Beyond Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, the rotation is not set.
“I haven’t set anything. You’ve got to give Matt Belisle some strong consideration. You consider 170 innings and 8-9. You got room improvement.”
“If you pitch good enough, there’s going to be somewhere on the team for you. You pitch good enough, long enough, you’ll be somewhere close to being on the team.
“Most of the time, they make us up our minds. Outside of some young guys who haven’t gotten in games, most guys have gotten a good opportunity. I ain’t no one-time-pitch-bad-and-you’re-off-list guy. I ain’t no one-time-you-pitch-good-and-you’re-the-team guy. I like to give guys two or three chances.”