(News4usonlie) – A new roster, new stadium lights, and a new drone show are amping up the Los Angeles Dodgers and their fans now that regular season baseball is finally back. The Dodgers finished their first couple of weeks above the .500 mark and look to continue to crack the bats.
Players who have been hitting it out of the park, literally, include rookie outfielder James Outman and veteran catcher Will Smith. Outman has already built a fan base for himself after Spring Training, and Smith has reminded us why he is a clutch, well-rounded player.
Outman, the team’s center fielder, has hit at a clip of .289 batting average and has a 1.122 on-base plus slugging percentage for the start of the season. He was recently praised for his successful start by Dodger Michael Grove, who was in the minor leagues with Outman.
During an interview, Grove said, “I’ll text guys from Triple-A and we’re like, ‘this guy is the best player ever.’ Now I’ve been with him at every level, so, yeah, pulling for him all the time. It’s really impressive what he’s doing right now.”
During an interview with MLB Network’s Alanna Rizzo, Outman described the changes he needed to make before starting a new chapter in his career.
“I think the biggest thing was learning how to relax in my swing, like letting my body sync up without me trying to tense up and force everything to happen,” said Outman. “I think my hitting coaches do an unbelievable job of speaking my language, so they can kind of decipher what they want to see into what I like to hear, so they were just really good at that.”
Smith has also been getting praise for both his offense and defensive skills on the diamond. Smith has earned a hot .333 batting average and has a .980 fielding percentage. The Dodgers manager Dave Roberts acknowledged Smith’s strong season start.
“I think he’s one of the top three catchers in all of baseball,” Roberts said. “He still looks like he’s 15 but he carries himself like a veteran…you’ve got to have some type of calm and be able to turn the page. He does that as well as anyone from pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat, game to game.”
Smith said the way his parents raised him helped him keep a level head.
“I think my parents raised me a certain way-to be confident but don’t boast,” Smith said. “If you fall get back up.”
The Dodgers catcher spoke about how he balances offense and defense skill on the diamond.
“I just compartmentalize the two,” said Smith. “It’s easier to control a lot more when I’m catching. I obviously can’t control where the pitcher is putting the ball, but I can control being prepared every day.”
Both players have contributed to the Dodgers’ positive start to the season as well as pitchers Julio Urias and Dustin May. First baseman Freddie Freeman has also been a steady contributor.
California State University Dominguez Hills journalism major. Editor in chief of Cypress College Chronicle 2019. Born and raised in La Mirada, CA