Willie Calhoun Aims For Total Improvement
GLENDALE, Ariz.—For all the praise his hitting skills receive, Willie Calhoun draws nearly equal criticism from scouts for his chunky build and clunky defense at second base.
So Calhoun has focused on those things this spring.
Even before reporting to his first big league camp, the 22-year-old Calhoun was in Arizona working on a daily basis with Dodgers strength and conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel and coach Chris Woodward. Under McDaniel’s supervision, Calhoun was establishing a better workout routine and working to get his body in better shape.
On the field, Woodward has been working with Calhoun on his defensive mechanics, particularly focusing on his footwork and range at second base.
The whole package is "essentially a crash course in a lot of things,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. Roberts didn’t play Calhoun in Cactus League games during the first two weeks of spring training as an acknowledgement of all the extra work he was putting in each day.
"He wasn’t signed that long ago. He just ascended through talent,” Roberts said of Calhoun, a 2015 fourth-round pick out of Yavapai (Ariz.) JC. "To be a complete baseball player is really important and learning to take care of his body is important. We’re hitting him from all angles and he’s really working hard.”
Calhoun’s talent has carried him up the ladder quickly. Last year the 5-foot-8, lefthanded batter hit .254/.318/.469 in 132 games at Double-A Tulsa. He led the Texas League in RBIs (88) and total bases (236) while finishing second in home runs (27).
The ever-upbeat Roberts praised Calhoun’s work this spring and the progress he made in his quest to become an adequate defender at second base.
"(Woodward) says he likes his actions, and there are some things mechanically he can clean up,” Roberts said. "The aptitude is there. The willingness is there. Woody had him before camp started and said even now there has been drastic improvement in Willie’s defense.”
• Outfielder Henry Ramos suffered a severe groin injury during an early-March Cactus League game and will most likely miss the start of the minor league season.
Patrick Wisdom In The Teeth Of Rangers Mix
After the Cardinals acquired Paul Goldschmidt, Wisdom was traded to the Rangers, where he should contend for a Opening Day roster spot.
— Bill Plunkett covers the Dodgers for the Orange County Register