When the Dodgers players entered the home club Thursday afternoon, each found a bottle of wine waiting in their locker, a 2020 cabernet sauvignon from Caymus Vineyards in Napa Valley.
The gifts came courtesy of Jason Heyward, a 13-year veteran entering his first season in the Dodgers’ outfield.
They were also more than a simple gesture of goodwill, serving as a subtle reminder of a Dodgers team in transition shrouded in uncertainty at the start of a new season.
“To make wine, you start out knowing it’s going to take time,” Heyward explained, drawing a parallel to this year’s Dodgers campaign.
“As a team, we understand that it takes time to get to where we want to go,” Heyward continued. “There is a lot of work in that process. But in the end there is positivity at the end.’
Indeed, on the opening night of the 2023 season, optimism prevailed in Chavez Ravine.
The Dodgers swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in a deep 8-2 victory, but they did it by showing the best version of their new-look team.
“I hope it’s a sign of things to come,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It was a really well-executed game plan.”
New staff ace Julio Urías shined in his first career start, plating two quick runs and pitching six strong innings in front of a sellout crowd.
Julio Urías homered for the Dodgers in the second inning on Thursday.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)
The new No. 3 hitter, catcher Will Smith, went three for four and drove in four runs, including the Dodgers’ first three of the game, to erase an early deficit.
The team’s two veteran offseason additions, JD Martinez and David Peralta, helped the Dodgers pull away with RBI hits in the fifth inning.
Then, in the sixth, Miguel Vargas and James Outman — the first duo to start in the Dodgers’ starting lineup since 1985 — put the contest out of reach, and Vargas drew a walk before Outman smashed a two-run home run. to the left
It was the kind of dominance the Dodgers were hoping for this season; led by its biggest stars at the top of the order, fueled by a mix of veteran batsmen and young contributors, and defined above all by its consistent ability to produce on the mound.
And while their ability to repeat that plan over a full season — against the backdrop of a seemingly improved field of National League contenders that will test the club’s depth and cohesion — remains in doubt, they didn’t have to. wait a long time to start finding some possible answers.
Dodgers fans share their thoughts on the pitch clock and whether or not it improves the game.
“It’s a good start,” Roberts said. “It gives them a chance to breathe.”
The Dodgers responded to some early speed bumps on Thursday.
Trailing 2-0 in the third, Smith knotted the score with a two-run single, then went in reverse to lead off the Diamondbacks’ Zac Gallen’s first-inning two-strike fastball to right.
Two innings later, the 28-year-old catcher had two hits again, putting the Dodgers up for the first time with an RBI single to right.
“He really was a star,” Roberts said. “Besides seeing the pitches, getting two hits, striking out two, being good at bats. Everyone else got into it too.”
In fact, after Smith’s leadoff hit in the fifth, Martinez and Peralta connected on back-to-back RBI singles to make it 5-2.
⚾ 2023 MLB Season Preview
Outman then delivered an exclamation point an inning later, a two-run home run to left in his Dodger Stadium debut.
“It was awesome,” said Outman, who appeared in just four road games in his MLB debut last year. “It was a dream come true.”
Urías went on a tear as the night went on, retiring 13 of his last 15 batters while striking out six and showing off a new pitch, the cutter.
The defense also contributed to the left side. Twice, Urías hit an inning-ending double into his home field.
In the sixth, Mookie Betts threw out a runner at second after settling for a line drive that bounced off the corner of the wall in the rough.
For one night, it was everything the Dodgers had hoped to see: the start of a season that will be filled with questions and may require renewed faith and patience as a reminder of the talent and potential that remains in the building.
“We have a great team, a great group of guys,” Peralta said. “And we showed it today.”