Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. >> Only one major league player has hit more home runs in spring training than Joc Pederson’s six. His name is Kris Bryant, a rookie third baseman for the Chicago Cubs, who has nine.Under an arcane rule, the Cubs can delay Bryant’s free-agent eligibility by keeping him in the minor leagues 13 days into this season. Many observers believe the Cubs will do exactly that.The Dodgers have given no indication that they will do the same with Pederson. Besides, Pederson spent 28 days with the Dodgers at the end of last season. To delay Pederson’s free agency by a year, the Dodgers would have to keep him in the minor leagues until mid-May.And to do that now seems downright silly. Pederson hasn’t been told that he will be on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster, but he is leaving them little choice. In addition to his home runs, the 22-year-old outfielder is hitting .389 and has cut back on the strikeouts (12 in 22 games) that made his at-bats last September seem like a boom-or-bust proposition. • MORE DODGERS: Vin Scully is getting ready to begin 66th season with DodgersDodgers manager Don Mattingly has said that any decision on Pederson would be made late in camp. With only three days remaining in Arizona, all Pederson has done is been one of the most consistent hitters in the league. Mattingly at least acknowledges this; Pederson won’t even go that far. “There’s going to be great days, there’s going to be terrible days, and I just try to stay even keel, come back the next day and stick to the same routine,” he said. “I’m fortunate that Mark (McGwire, the Dodgers hitting coach) and Val (assistant hitting coach John Valentin) are there to help and keep me on track.Asked if he deserves a spot on the Opening Day roster after a 2-for-3, one-homer game Sunday, Pederson sounded like a man afraid of jinxing his chances. “I just show up every day,” he said, “and go about the process that the coaches have laid out for me and do whatever I can to help the team win.”That process was not always there for him last September. Pederson was an everyday player at Triple-A Albuquerque last season, a spot in the batting cage waiting for him when he arrived. He often arrived early.After being called up in September, Pederson’s time in the batting cage was limited. The Dodgers’ regulars had priority. Many of them showed up early, too.Between the mechanical changes Pederson made to his swing in the off-season, and the practice he’s had keeping everything synchronized, the results are not surprising to McGwire.“That’s the body of work that he’s put in to maintain and to work off of to be successful,” McGwire said. “You can’t just show up and play anymore. I don’t think it exists. You have to put in the work, to put in the study, and he’s willing to do that.“The work he’s put in in the offseason, and what he’s doing and sticking with it, you’re seeing the potential” — McGwire paused, as if choosing the words carefully – “of a superstar in the making.” Pederson is choosing his words carefully, too. A visiting writer asked him Sunday about becoming “the Dodgers’ next great center fielder.” Pederson’s expression didn’t change, his poker skills apparently in midseason form. “It’s not about me,” Pederson said. “It’s about the team. I have to do whatever I can to help win the ball game.”AlsoAngels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that his Opening Day roster will feature four starters and eight relievers. Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago are expected to be the four starters, with Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano and possibly Drew Rucinski heading to the minors to start the season. … Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe was a late lineup scratch because of a minor illness. … Mattingly said that right-hander Joe Wieland will start Tuesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Wieland was optioned to the Dodgers’ minor-league camp March 16.
MORE 2020 NFL DRAFT:Live grades | Pick tracker | Top 100 big boardChecking the Spotrac page devoted to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz reminds us that last summer he agreed to a four-year extension for at least $128 million, with $66 million guaranteed. So the Eagles are not drafting his replacement. They’ve made a massive investment in Wentz.And even if Hurts were to come into whatever passes for training camp this summer and dazzle everyone in South Philly, there’s no way this was designed to be a selection of his successor, either. Wentz would consume more than $30 million of the Eagles’ 2021 salary cap if he were traded before next June or released afterward.The Eagles are in the Carson Wentz business, for the long haul.They took a bit of a risk in investing so much in Wentz after he’d missed a combined eight games in 2016 and 2017, the former because of a torn ACL that cost him the chance to quarterback the Eagles in the Super Bowl. But they knew what they saw, and they believed.BENDER: Interesting scenarios emerge from Hurts selectionThen what were they doing taking a quarterback in the second round?Well, there might have been better players out there at particular positions, but the Eagles also know they’ve had to call for their backup QB twice during Wentz’s first four seasons. Insurance, as so many have learned during the pandemic, can be extremely useful. Prior to Friday, the Eagles’ “insurance” at QB consisted of Nate Sudfeld and Kyle Lauletta, with a combined 20 NFL completions between them (all Sudfeld’s, by the way).Hurts might not just be any backup quarterback. He ran a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash. That’s not DeAndre Hopkins speed, but at 6-1 and 222 pounds, that might lead to opportunities as a receiver. He also could be deployed in the way the Saints did Taysom Hill, who played in all 16 games last year and rushed 27 times for 156 yards, an average of 5.8 yards per carry.Were Wentz to be injured again, Hurts will be available as a far less expensive option, although obviously less experienced, than a free agent such as former Tampa Bay top pick Jameis Winston. If your immediate reaction to the Eagles selecting Jalen Hurts with their second-round pick in the NFL Draft was to figure they were in for a quarterback controversy, and that was a common response, then you need to know about a website called Spotrac.This is a wonderful resource for researching the salaries in various major league sports, but it’s particularly handy in regard to the NFL because of the salary-cap ramifications of every player release, every trade, every free-agent signing and, indeed, every draft choice. The Eagles did not blindside Wentz with this pick. GM Howie Roseman made him aware, with Hurts still on the board as the day began, this selection was a possibility. “For better or worse, we’re quarterback developers,” Roseman told reporters. “We want to be a quarterback factory.“He’s more valuable than the pick we took him at… When he gets experience and coaching, he’s going to be a valuable player. That’s our job: to acquire as many assets as we can.”This is a curious statement, as was the selection of Hurts with the more pressing positional needs apparent and plenty of prospects there to fill them. The job should be to build a football team capable of challenging, again, for a Super Bowl title. But this was not a signal that the Eagles might consider replacing Carson Wentz. He’s their quarterback. Jalen Hurts is something else, although it won’t be clear what that is until the NFL is back in business.