Mota motors

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireManny Mota, fastest pinch-hitting genius on three wheels …

When the Dodgers open Cactus League action Saturday with split-squad games on the road against the Angels and Giants, the starting pitchers are scheduled to be Hiroki Kuroda and Tim Redding, respectively.

In other news and notes …

  • Today from Tony Jackson: Dodger hitting coach Jeff Pentland talks about James Loney.

    … it is precisely that — not getting the ball to leave the yard, but getting Loney’s bat into the relatively small hitting zone more quickly — that Loney and Dodgers hitting coach Jeff Pentland have been working on not only since the start of spring training, but basically since the end of last season. Loney flew to Phoenix from his home in Houston twice this winter for extra work with Pentland at the team’s Camelback Ranch facility.

    “In order to hit the ball in that certain area, it’s really difficult,” Pentland said. “James probably isn’t as consistent as he needs to be at getting his bat to that spot. What he needs to do is put the bat head in a better position so we can add some sharpness to the ball. I never tell guys to swing for the fence. I want guys to hit the ball hard consistently. If they do that, there are going to be times where they catch it just right and it’s going to go out of the ballpark.”

  • Here’s Baseball America’s 2011 Top 100 Prospects list. Dodgers: Dee Gordon (26), Zach Lee (89), Rubby De La Rosa (90). In a related story, J.J. Cooper writes about how spectacular the 2011 Royals class of minor leaguers is, putting it atop a top 10 that also includes the 1991 and 2006 Dodgers.
  • Today’s edition of David Pinto’s 2006-10 PMR defensive ratings at Baseball Musings hones in on center field. The Dodgers have performed poorly there over the past five years. On an individual basis, Juan Pierre and Matt Kemp are neck-and-neck.
  • According to Jesse Wolfersberger of Fangraphs, no starting pitcher in baseball allowed fewer homers than expected in 2010 than Chad Billingsley.
  • Hank Aaron appears on tonight’s “Late Show with David Letterman.” Here’s a clip.
  • At today’s Hollywood Radio and Television Society panel, writes my Variety colleague Stuart Levine, Showtime president David Nevins said that “it’s not a God-given right” for viewers to be able to watch sports for free and called the transition of high-profile events to cable a “very natural and obvious evolution.”
  • Lead (or lede, if you’re on the inside) of the day goes to my former Stanford Daily colleague Eric Young, writing for the San Francisco Business Times:

    The Warren Commission took 300 days to turn in its probe of the Kennedy shooting.It took the 9/11 Commission 603 days to publish a report after the Twin Towers attack.

    It has been 695 days — and counting — since baseball commissioner Bud Selig appointed a three-person group to study whether the Oakland A’s can relocate in the East Bay. …

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