Once again, Scott Van Slyke is on the move. The slugger has switched back and forth between first base and the outfield corners time and time again. This time it looks like he will stay at first base. The Dodgers made room by releasing free agent signee Nick Evans on Monday.
The middle infield is not set, though Justin Sellers was optioned to Triple-A on Tuesday. He figures to see time at second, shortstop and third base. Among those who could join him are a couple of additional familiar faces to Isotopes fans in the versatile Elian Herrera and shortstop Dee Gordon.
Veteran Dallas McPherson is still expected to play third base, though Rusty Ryal and Brian Barden are both still in camp.
If Van Slyke sticks at first base and Alex Castellanos opens in the Majors, then it opens things up for a number of others to start off in Albuquerque.
Hometown star Brian Cavazos-Galvez figures to be in the mix, along with Tony Gwynn Jr., Matt Angle, Jeremy Moore, Blake Smith and possibly one or two others.
"We noticed there's a lot of competition out here," Cavazos-Galvez said. "We're all friends but at the same time we're competing for jobs right here. The competition just makes everyone better players out here. You're always going to have someone wanting to take your job. The more guys you see, the more it pushes you to improve your own game."
Cavazos-Galvez was referred to as "Mr. Albuquerque" by his teammates as they walked past, all in reference to the Isotopes' billboard along I-25 with the former UNM and Manzano High School star prominently featured.
"I've gotten a good amount (of grief)," he said with a smile. "There's still some photos posted in my locker. Nothing that bad, all in fun."
The Isotopes should have a strong, deep lineup and a good bullpen. The biggest question, as usual, revolves around the starting rotation. Fife and Magill look like a solid one-two punch, but the rest are far from sure things.
"Really with what's going on here in general is that our minor leagues should get to the point where it starts to be a buildup of talent where guys are having to not be OK and getting called up, they're going to have to be pretty damn good, they're going to have to become dominant and show they belong in the big leagues," Mattingly said. "Really what should be happening in the next couple years is you really have to knock the door down to get called up. We're hoping that every club ends up getting stacked."
The only thing for sure is that all the pitchers are curious to see how Isotopes Park's new humidor works out.
"We talked about it a lot last year, like would it actually make a difference," Fife said. "There seemed to be a difference at Coors Field. We'll see what it does. I think the stadium played pretty fair last year compared to what (John) Ely and some of the guys talked about the year before, when in 15 games the wind was blowing out at 30 miles per hour."