Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon figures to play a role for the Dodgers coming off the bench, but given L.A.'s aging starting lineup, the team could end up relying on Gordon for more than one would like. (Joe Robbins / Getty Images / September 6, 2013)

Once they were young. Rising stars with limitless futures.

Now the future is here, or so the Dodgers hope. Trouble is -- or could be – they are no longer so young. They may not be heading into the baseball sunset, but they’re mostly at that age when they are far more injury prone than earlier.

And with a Dodgers bench that looks highly questionable, that could prove a serious problem for their 2014 title hopes.

If you take the Dodgers’ projected lineup (and for now I’ll include all four outfielders), they would average more than 30 years of age and with a history of too many injuries.

Their expected 2014 lineup and ages: Catcher A.J. Ellis (33 on April 9), first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (31), second baseman Alex Guerrero (27), Juan Uribe (35), Hanley Ramirez (30), Carl Crawford (32), Matt Kemp (29), Andre Ethier (32 on April 10) and Yasiel Puig (23).

Behind them there is what you might call a huge drop-off. The bench could be made of the likes of Dee Gordon, Justin Turner, Scott Van Slyke and Tim Federowicz. That’s not completely fair, because one of the four outfielders will be on the bench, but these aren’t people you probably want playing too much on a daily basis while trying to win a championship.

Kemp, Crawford, Ethier, Uribe and Ramirez all have a history of injury. Even Ellis made his first disabled-list appearance last season. The older you get, the more likely to break down. Or so some have told me.

The Dodgers best hope every one stays unusually healthy this season. Or General Manager Ned Colletti has some roster magic still to come. But older players backed by a weak bench could equal real trouble.