02/01/12 1:05 PM EST
Minicamp gives Dodgers early look at hurlers
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
"It went great -- the best in the three years we've held it," said Watson, whose program has quickly matured from a trial into an offseason staple that prepares pitchers for the upcoming start of Spring Training while giving management a sneak peak at each pitcher's current condition.
The camp, held at the Dodgers' Camelback Ranch-Glendale complex in Arizona, not only is overseen by five Minor League coaches and instructors, but also Major League pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and bullpen coach Ken Howell.
In addition to working with pitchers on the Major League roster such as Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Nathan Eovaldi, Scott Elbert and newly signed free agent Chris Capuano, they also had a chance to see some of the unfamiliar youngsters the Dodgers hope will soon make an impact in Los Angeles.
"They've heard of these kids but probably haven't seen them when they get here," said Watson. "But if we run a body over for a Spring Training game, there will be a higher comfort level and a familiarity
Among those attending the camp that were recently added to the 40-man roster were Chris Withrow, Michael Antonini, Stephen Fife and Josh Wall. Rubby De La Rosa, who parlayed last year's camp into a big league call-up before blowing out his elbow, is throwing at 90 feet in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Watson said. De La Rosa could return to game action by midseason.
Watson also was excited about some of the other touted arms that could arrive quickly, including Minor League Pitcher of the Year Shawn Tolleson, Allen Webster, Garrett Gould and former first-round Draft picks Zach Lee, Aaron Miller and Chris Reed, as well as the lesser-known youngsters like Scott Barlow, Red Patterson, Jon Michael Redding, Matt McGill and Andres Santiago.
"One of the best things about this camp is that the  youngsters get to work alongside with the Major Leaguers," said Watson. "They watch their bullpens and soak it in. We had seven coaches there, breaking down deliveries from the beginning of last season to the middle to the end. Management was able to come in and see them throw. It was awesome."
The minicamp concept, Honeycutt said last year, is reminiscent of his playing days, when the January workouts at Dodger Stadium took advantage of the mild weather to give players a jump-start on baseball conditioning before Spring Training started.
Watson's department has taken that to a more thorough and organized level, utilizing the organization's Arizona facility, where some of the pitchers will remain to continue training right up until pitchers and catchers report in three weeks.
"I remember what it was like, how it helped us be ready for Spring Training," Honeycutt said. "We're basing this off that. It's nothing drastic we're doing, just more preparation. And it gives us a chance to get to know people we don't know."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.