Dodgers excited by prospects of ‘best team in baseball’ getting even better – OCRegister
ATLANTA – The in-flight entertainment for the Dodgers’ cross country trip to Atlanta on Monday afternoon required reliable WiFi aboard their charter flight.
While the Dodgers were high above the western half of the United States, the final hours before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline were ticking off the clock.
“It was just an hour straight of guys staring at their phone, refreshing their (Twitter) feeds,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “Obviously it’s an exciting time.
“We felt like we’re the best team in baseball and feel like we just somehow got better.”
That was the consensus onboard and elsewhere after the Dodgers acquired right-handed starter Yu Darvish and left-handed relievers Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani in three deals just before the deadline.
“We thought something would go down. We didn’t really know,” Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood said. “We weren’t worried about it one way or the other. It’s kind of like just putting the icing on the cake, so to speak.
“We saw it and everybody was like, ‘How do we get better?’ And then somehow we did.”
Not everyone on the Dodgers’ plane was anxiously awaiting trade-deadline news.
Manager Dave Roberts said the news caught him “in between naps.” Kenley Jansen said he was sleeping when lefty reliever Edward Paredes woke him up as news was spreading that the Dodgers had acquired Darvish from the Texas Rangers.
Jansen had slept through the Watson and Cingrani news so his first reaction was greedy disappointment that the Dodgers had only acquired a starting pitcher.
“I didn’t know we got Watson,” Jansen said. “I was sleeping. I woke up and heard we got Darvish and I said, ‘We need to get a bullpen guy.’ Then they said we got Tony Watson. I was, ‘Oh great.’
“It was electric, to be honest with you. It just fired everybody up, got everybody even more motivated that we got more help. … Everybody was talking about it (on the plane). Then we had dinner with a few guys and we kept talking about it.”
Jansen was already talking about acquiring Darvish last week, saying “why not?” make a big move like that and equated it to upgrading to a luxury vehicle like a Ferrari.
“We got the Ferrari,” Jansen said with a big smile Tuesday. “Now we just have to get the right oil in it, get it serviced and then we go.”
Darvish is expected to join the Dodgers in Atlanta on Wednesday, throw a bullpen session and then make his first start for his new team on Friday at Citi Field against the New York Mets. Darvish will wear No. 21 (Logan Forsythe is already wearing his usual No. 11).
Darvish’s arrival – along with the bullpen upgrades – have established the Dodgers as firm favorites to reach the World Series. At this point, anything less would be a disappointment.
“I think since the first day I put on a Dodgers uniform it was kind of that mentality,” Turner said. “I don’t think anything’s new in here. This group has handled the success we’ve had probably better than anyone could have imagined. I talk about it all the time and it’s cliché … we’re so good at taking it one day at a time and not worrying about what happened yesterday or what’s in front of us. It’s been a group of guys that shows up every day and tries to figure out a way to win that day. I don’t imagine with the three new additions that is going to change.”
Watson joined the Dodgers in Atlanta on Tuesday and was added to the active roster with Paredes returning to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Watson, 32, leaves Pittsburgh after seven seasons with the Pirates, including two post-seasons and one All-Star selection.
“It was tough to leave. There were some mixed emotions,” he said. “But the opportunity to slide into the best team in baseball is pretty exciting. I’m just going to try to fit in, find my role and do what I can to help out.”
Watson’s numbers this season (a 3.66 ERA, 1.52 WHIP and 6.8 strikeouts per nine innings) are among the worst of his career. But he is still among the National League’s best pitchers in terms of inducing soft contact (an average exit velocity of 83.2 mph).
“I’ve been up and down, honestly,” Watson said of his season. “I kind of had a rough stretch there for awhile, giving up some hard contact. I wasn’t who I am for a couple weeks, a month really. I got back to myself now, where I’m pounding the strike zone and attacking hitters.”
Cingrani is not expected to join the Dodgers until Thursday.