Normally, starting a season with five players on the disabled list would concern Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. But not as much this season.
"It gives us an opportunity to see players who are out of options and might be a different situation if everybody was healthy," Colletti said. "We'd have some really difficult decisions if everybody was healthy."
The five unavailable players: fifth starter Jon Garland, reliever (and possible fill-in starter) Vicente Padilla, backup catcher Dioner Navarro, third baseman Casey Blake and left-field platooner Jay Gibbons.
Outfielder Xavier Paul and catcher Hector Jimenez were out of options, and the Dodgers risked losing them by exposing them to waivers. The injuries to Gibbons and Navarro mean Paul and Jimenez are likely on the team.
Reliever Lance Cormier could refuse a minor league assignment, so Padilla's injury opened a spot for him. Ronald Belisario never showed up to the country, so non-roster invite Mike MacDougal takes his place.
Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Aaron Miles were fighting for the last infield spot. Blake's injury means they both make the team.
Garland, Padilla and Blake are all expected to return around mid-April. Navarro is probably due back in late April.
"If it was long term, the All-Star break or longer, than yeah, I'd have to think differently," Colletti said. "We're benefited a little by having two off days (after the fourth and sixth games of the year). The fifth starter isn't staring at us five days into the season. We have time to get our feet on the ground with everybody who is healthy."
Gibbons' issue is a contact lens that affects his vision. He left camp for two days in mid-March and the new contact improved his vision, but he couldn't see depth. He needs to see, then needs at-bats to get ready.
"When you think about the vision of a baseball player, it's not like our vision to do our jobs," Colletti said. "Theirs has to be sharp. It hasn't been there all spring. Hopefully it comes back and he's able to continue. I have no timetable because I'm not the (eye) guy."
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