Mar 22

Reading is fundamental

Sorry I haven’t done any Spring Training game wraps the past two days. I took Sunday off for my son’s birthday, and then just felt I had nothing much to say after Monday’s rainout/shutout doubleheader.

Anyway, please check out Tony Jackson’s ESPNLosAngeles.com piece from Monday for a recap of the day, which begins with a short feature on left fielder Marcus Thames.

Or, read the best story of the past 24 hours: Barry Svrluga’s tender feature in the Washington Post on Chad Cordero, the pitcher trying to make a comeback after losing his daughter to SIDS.

Or read Jayson Stark’s nuanced feature for ESPN.com on Rays manager Joe Maddon’s optimistic but uncertain relationship with new designated hitter Manny Ramirez.

Or check out Baseball Prospectus’ online chat with Paul DePodesta.

Or stop by Bob Timmermann’s latest piece for Native Intelligence, on the NCAA tournament.

Or enjoy Marcia C. Smith’s appreciation in the Register of Bobby Grich’s efforts to celebrate Angels history as president of the team’s alumni association, inspired by an experience he had as a child:

… Grich was an 8-year-old, sandy-haired boy from Long Beach, taking in his first baseball game with his father at Wrigley Field the year before the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. All he wanted was an up-close look at “my hero,” Steve Bilko, a slugging first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels of the competitive, Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

“When the game was over, I ran down to the dugout,” said Grich, his voice rising like a kite catching wind. “All the other kids were around him and I was in the back.”

So he tore an empty popcorn box into a long strip, stuck a stubby pencil at its end, stretched it over the crowd and into the strike zone of Bilko and screamed, “Steve Bilko, please sign my autograph!”

“He saw how adamant I was,” Grich recalled. “In pencil, he autographed “Steve Bilko” on this little piece of cardboard box. I was so thrilled and so excited that I grabbed it and ran all the way up the aisle, waving to my father, shouting, ‘I got Steve Bilko’s autograph! I got Steve Bilko’s autograph!’”

Grich went home, taped the autograph into his scrapbook on a page with the game’s ticket stub and the box score he clipped for the next morning’s newspaper. Now, 54 years later, he still keeps that souvenir.

“So when I got to the big leagues, any time a kid asks me for an autograph, it’s a rare that I turn down an autograph because of what a thrill it was for me to get his autograph,” said Grich, who was in uniform Sunday as a spring training guest instructor and signed autographs for 30 minutes before the game. …

* * *

Cubs at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.

Mar 21

Infield in flux

The Dodgers’ afternoon game today has been rained out.

Having been unable to get into a game for quite some time now, Casey Blake appears bound for the disabled list, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Blake has one hit and two walks this spring. He would likely be replaced at third base by Juan Uribe, with Jamey Carroll coming in to start at second base, but Carroll himself only has four singles and four walks in his own injury-marred spring.

Aaron Miles, Opening Day second baseman?

* * *

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 6:40 p.m.

Mar 21

2011 Dodgers: Optimism under the gun


Jeff Lewis/US PresswireJason Phillips played 19 games at first base for the 2005 Dodgers.

I believe that the 2011 Dodgers could win the National League West, and that after that, anything is possible.

That being said, I don’t know that I’ve been less optimistic about a Dodger team in quite a long time. That includes the 2005 Dodgers, who ultimately finished 71-91 in between 2004 and 2006 division titles. I had doubts about that team, but they were relatively minor.  For the Hardball Times, I predicted they would win at least 80 games and maybe many more, and for Baseball Analysts, I had them finishing a close second (to the Giants) in the NL West, ultimately won by the Padres with an 82-80 record.

Rightly or wrongly, that the 2005 team disintegrated to the extent it did took me by surprise. If the same thing happened to the 2011 Dodgers, I wouldn’t be caught off guard.

Again, I do think there’s all kinds of upside to this year’s team, because of the pitching and the potential of bounce-back seasons from Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Rafael Furcal and James Loney. A late-season infusion from Jerry Sands, Rubby De La Rosa or a midseason acquisition could put the Dodgers over the top. But the foundation of the team seems crepe paper thin:

  • The starting rotation tilts toward the older side, which means the potential for decline and disappointment looms — even before you consider the chance of growing pains for Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
  • There’s no guarantee that Kemp, Ethier, Furcal and Loney will be better this season than last.
  • Catcher, left field and third base/second base could be wastelands.
  • Relief pitching is inherently unpredictable, which relates not just to Jonathan Broxton, but also Kenley Jansen, Matt Guerrier and more.
  • An ill-placed injury or two could simply devastate this squad.

While pondering the spring of Hector Gimenez this weekend, seeing him get more play at first base, it occurred to me that he could be the 2011 Jason Phillips — a player with a high-.600s, low-.700s regular-season OPS getting time at a key hitting position partly out of frustration with the incumbent (James Loney, meet Hee Seop Choi). Phillips actually didn’t play that much first base for the ’05 Dodgers, but some still consider him emblematic of a season gone wrong.

Let me reiterate that I’m not giving up on this team — as I’ve said before, I’m actually kind of looking forward to the start of the 2011 season more than 2010, when I was more confident. If nothing else, Spring Training 2011 has been noticeably tranquil, and maybe that’s a good sign.

I’m often accused, sometimes derisively, of being an optimist — in contrast to being a realist, a word that somehow the pessimists co-opted for themselves. I don’t think my optimism has even been unrealistic. The Dodgers teams that I have been optimistic about had real chances to perform well, whether they actually did or not, and I think I’ve sometimes been quite justified to preach patience and calm.

I believe in the potential of the 2011 Dodgers. I believe this will be a long season with many twists and turns. I don’t believe that, if things start to look grim, I’ll be out on the streets of Faber shouting, “Remain calm — all is well!”

Mar 19

Dodgers, Brewers take Route 6-6

Dodgers 6, Brewers 6

Highlights:

  • Aaron Miles went 2 for 4 with a one-out double in the bottom of the ninth that led to the tying run, completing the Dodgers’ rally from a 6-2 deficit.
  • Juan Castro also doubled and singled.
  • Scott Elbert pitched a perfect inning. He stayed around the plate for the first two batters, before going to a three-ball count on the third.

Lowlights:

  • Ramon Troncoso replaced Hiroki Kuroda with two out in the sixth inning, score tied 1-1 and two runners on base. By the time he got the third out, the score was 4-1 Brewers.
  • Two more runs came off of Travis Schlichting in the seventh inning.

Sidelights:

  • Vicente Padilla’s rehabilitation seems to be progressing rapidly, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • San Francisco closer Brian Wilson has a ribcage strain and might miss the start of the regular season, says The Press that is Associated.
Mar 19

Happy birthday, Clayton Kershaw

Our hero is a wizened 23 …

  • Rubby De La Rosa gets featured play from Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Though a comeback is unrealistic, you can tell in this piece by Gurnick that Darren Dreifort misses baseball.
  • Fifty years ago, $37.50 would get you eight Saturdays of instruction at Leo Durocher’s California Baseball School. Check out the ad at the Daily Mirror.
  • “Brooklyn Dodgers in Cuba” author Jim Vitti was interviewed by Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven.
  • Spring Training attendance for the Dodgers and Angels has dropped more than 40% this year so far, notes Steve Dilbeck of the Times, though this weekend’s games should start a rebound.
  • Here’s how Rockies blog Purple Row assess the Dodgers.
  • Please make sure you don’t skip over Hollywood Joe Benardello’s guest piece, “A has-been’s and never-was’ perspective of Camelback Ranch.”

* * *

Brewers at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
(KCAL)

Mar 19

A has-been’s and never-was’ perspective of Camelback Ranch


Courtesy Joe BenardelloOff to the races …

Please enjoy this guest post from Dodger Thoughts reader Joe Benardello (aka Hollywood Joe):

I had the good fortune of recently playing in a three-day baseball tournament, “The Rumble at the Ranch,” held on the Dodger minor-league fields at Camelback Ranch from January 21-23: three days, five teams, four games and nearly an infinite amount of fun.

When I heard that West Coast Fantasy Baseball was holding the “The Rumble” at Camelback for the first time and that my over-30 league, Dodgertown West, was sending a team to compete against teams of Giants, Padres, Cubs and Blue Sox, I just had to go.

While getting ready to leave for the trip, I was play-acting the part of the professional ballplayer in my head, so to take it a step further, I booked a black Town Car to take me to the Burbank airport. This was to be my ride driving me to the airport to start Spring Training. The self-induced delusion of being a “real” ballplayer would happen time and again throughout the weekend and provide me with an endless amount of fun.

It’s a short hop to PHX, and yet something ridiculously perfect happened as I retrieved my bags. I had checked two bags, my baseball bag and my luggage, and while I waited at the carousel the crowd thickened around me. My bat bag came first, heavy and full, and when I picked it up and dropped it you could hear the sweet sound of four wooden bats banging on and off each other, this baseball bat melody was caught not only by my ears. Nearby I could hear a couple talking about me: The wife asked him in a hushed voiced if I was a player or maybe a coach, and further asked “isn’t about time for Spring Training to start?” Intoxicated by what I was hearing, made drunk again by my fantasy, I hoisted my heavy luggage as if it weighed nothing and walked away with the casually confident gait of an athlete … or at least I tried.

Friday morning started early. A combination of excitement and desire to get to the park early woke me up without an alarm at a little after 4:30 a.m. I wanted to get to the park early for my 11:30 a.m. game, but this was ridiculous. Just a wee bit excited if you can’t tell.

I got to the park about 90 minutes before game time. I must have been looking at the GPS screen as I was driving, because popping up out of nowhere was Camelback Ranch, nestled right in the suburbs as if Dodger Stadium was built in the middle of Reseda. I turned into the complex and followed the signs that led to the players parking. I was wholly struck by the beauty of the place, the low-slung lines of modern desert architecture, a rusted earthen palate of natural tones. I wanted to live there as soon as I saw it, I wanted to move in before I ever stepped inside.

I stood there in the parking lot, rumpled from sleep, wearing sweats and dragging my gear bag, not sure where to go. Noiselessly a golf cart pulled up beside me, “Who do you play for?” was the question I was asked. “Dodgers” I replied, and could not help but smile. The fella in the golf cart pointed me toward a door as he turned the cart and speed away.

“Visitor Locker Room A” the sign read at the door. Sweet, the major-league locker room! The door opened to a longish hallway, with doors to the training tables immediately to the right, and in front of me at the end of the hall was a snack display that had all a ballplayer would ever want. Red Vines and bubble gum, candy bars and bags of chips, just in sunflower seeds alone there were four different flavors: Plain, BBQ, Ranch and Dill Pickle, which is better than you’d probably think.

Courtesy Joe BenardelloArrival.

I looked around the place with my mouth agape; the big-league treatment was far better than I expected. This only furthered my imagination as my delusions became supported by all that I was seeing. In the corner, closest to the showers, prime location, there it stood, my locker, my nameplate, all in Dodger blue. I sat in my chair and it felt like I had arrived.

One by one, my teammates filtered in. Our roster had a nice mix of three guys right around 30 years old, five of us ranging from late 30s to early 50s, and three more old timers in their late 50s to early 60s rounding us out. You’d think that you couldn’t play with such a wide age diversion, but it works, it’s competitive and a heck of a lot of fun.

The Dodgers’ Camelback staff were awesome; they came in to check on us and told us to track them down if they could help us in any way. Excited to get the field, I lathered on Atomic Balm followed by some sunscreen, I popped four anvils to chase away Father Time, quickly dressed into my Dodger whites and ran out the door.

I’ve been to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, I have stayed in those motel-like bungalows that were inhabited in years past by the likes of Garvey, Cey, Russell and Lopes, I have played in Holman Stadium, I have slid in Maury’s pit and sat on Campy’s corner, I have heard my spikes on the concrete and asphalt at the corner of Vin Scully Way and Jackie Robinson Boulevard. All this to say, I love Vero Beach, I love the history, I love the name, I love everything about it and what it stands for.

As I rode in the golf cart through the Dodger side of the complex, I got my first good look at Camelback Ranch. Camelback is no Vero, but then again Vero is no Camelback. Vero has all the charms and challenges of an aging summer camp, an implied playfulness of swimming pool, tennis courts and horseshoes; it is dated and comfortable but not really luxurious. Dodgertown at Vero Beach was built was built for an era gone by when the players lived on-site.

Courtesy Joe BenardelloImmaculate.

Camelback by comparison is less charming, more businesslike, but maybe more beautiful. The landscaping is breathtaking; it has the feel of an exclusive desert spa. There are no bungalows for the players to bunk in: You are meant to come to work, punch in and punch out. I find this a little sad, but by no mean an indictment on the site, more of a sign of the times.

Baseball, finally baseball. I dropped my junk in the dugout, put on my spikes, stuff gum and seeds into my pocket, run and stretch and throw a little too. The guys from both teams got together and took some batting practice. I was a little worried about my swing coming into this tournament; I hadn’t swung a bat since early December. Two cuts in the cage and I immediately started spraying line drives everywhere, guys hooted as I banged the ball from gap to gap. I left the cage with a goofy grin plastered on my face. Unfortunately, those batting practice cuts would prove to be the best swings I took all weekend.

The fields at Camelback are immaculate, better even than they were at Vero – they are the finest surfaces on which I have ever played. The grass is short, fast, yet soft and supportive, and the infield dirt is without a pebble. Every hop I got was pure and true; I didn’t see a ball all weekend that betrayed the fielder; for us has-beens these good hops sometimes left us without excuse.

We ended up tying for first place in the tournament with a record of 4-1. Our pitching was incredible all weekend; we threw strikes and kept the other team off balance. I went a misleading 7 for 15 with a walk; I say misleading because I didn’t get an extra base hit all weekend I beat out a couple of infield squibblers that could have been outs if I had only hit them harder, and I struck out with the bases loaded after being up in the count 3 and 0. Still not over it …

Courtesy Joe BenardelloWalking tall …

Some of the best memories of the weekend included playing the Lodi Giants and being a part of a baseball field filled with Giants and Dodgers, wearing the uniforms of armies long at war (we won 6- 2!). There was also a time when we were wandering around with time to kill and found ourselves in the Dodgers major-league clubhouse. I am sure that we were not supposed to be there, but experience has taught me that being where you shouldn’t be can be fun. The major-league lockers, the big chairs overlooking the stadium, the batting cages and pitching area right out back … yeah, I was dreaming a bit.

Time spent in our locker room let the familiar fantasy of major league player wash over me again and again, especially as I threw my dirty uniform into the laundry cart. The laundry service doesn’t seem like much, but goes a long way for the big-leaguer experience: Throw your dirty clothes in a pile and the next morning they magically appear clean in your locker.

After each game we sat at our lockers, popped open beers and talked about baseball. Our jokes were harmlessly cruel, just the way we like them, the laughing was nearly as good as the baseball. After our doubleheader on Saturday, I nearly feel asleep in the shower, swaying under the hot streams with a cold beer in my hand. I didn’t want to get out, so I called for another beer, and stood there stewing and drinking and making sure I remembered it all.

If this sounds fun to you, a teammate and good friend of mine, Mark Stone (“Stoney”) is re-launching the fantasy camps at Vero Beach staffed with former Dodger legends like Branca, Wills, Monday, Reuss, Yeager and others. It is an incredible experience no matter what your baseball skill level is – I guarantee you memories to last a lifetime. For more information check out www.LADABC.com.

Mar 18

Rubby doobie doo: Four no-hit innings for De La Rosa

APRubby De La Rosa

Just as there’s no denying how meaningless Spring Training performances generally are, there’s also no denying how much fun it can be when you see a top prospect excel. Has there been a better March memory this century than Clayton Kershaw’s Public Enemy No. 1 from 2008? (It helps when you have Vin Scully documenting it.)

Though it’s hardly been the best of Dodger Spring Trainings in 2011 (albeit one devoid of controversy), the organization’s reigning players of the year have far from disappointed. Jerry Sands was red hot at the plate in the early going, and now there’s pitcher Rubby De La Rosa, who fired four no-hit innings in a start against San Francisco today.

De La Rosa walked three (his first free passes of the spring) and struck out two. In exhibition play, the player who will become the centerpiece of the Dodgers’ 2013 “Rubby Tuesday” marketing campaign has thrown 10 innings and allowed seven baserunners while striking out seven and posting a 1.80 ERA.

De La Rosa will start the season in the minors, but will we have to wait until 2012 for his arrival? If he can pitch consistently into the summer, maybe not …

However unrealistic (at least in the short term), it’s fun sometimes to just tune out the noise and think about guys like Sands and De La Rosa as potential saviors.

* * *

Dodgers 6, Giants 3

Highlights:

  • Um, Hector Gimenez homered again, this time off Guillermo Mota. Gimenez is a combination of fun and scary. Dare I even consider falling in love with this guy? How about a no-strings-attached fling?
  • Matt Kemp was in the thick of things again, with a triple, walk and sacrifice fly.
  • Second base, the position that could open up if Casey Blake goes on the disabled list, looked nice to Ivan De Jesus,Jr., who started there and went 3 for 4 with a double.
  • Xavier Paul, who also homered off Mota, upped his spring OBP to .343 and slugging percentage to .625.
  • Rafael Furcal and James Loney had two-hit games.

Lowlights:

  • Blake Hawksworth allowed two runs in the fifth inning.
  • Kenley Jansen struck out two but allowed back-to-back extra-base hits in between.

Sidelights:

  • Batters retired by De La Rosa: Mike Fontenot, Miguel Tejada, Aubrey Huff, Nate Schierholtz, Aaron Rowand, Travis Ishikawa, Jeff Suppan, Tejada, Huff, Pablo Sandoval, Schierholtz.
  • In 31 plate appearances this spring, Loney has 10 singles, no extra-base hits and one walk.
  • In their past two games, the Dodgers have 25 hits and one walk.
  • Confession: While checking in on the game via MLB Gameday, I saw Eugenio Velez homered in the ninth inning, and I groaned. Then, I saw that he had added to the Dodger lead, and remembered he was on the team. Then I saw that Gameday had made a mistake, and it was really Paul who hit the homer.
Mar 18

Casey Blake remains sidelined, DL an increasing possibility

The Dodgers haven’t ruled out Casey Blake starting the season on the disabled list after all, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

* * *

Dodgers at Giants, 1:05 p.m.

Mar 17

Gimenez rallies Dodgers with three-run blast

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 4

Highlights:

  • Look out, ’cause the Hector Gimenez bandwagon is rollin’. The Dodgers trailed the entire game today and were down 4-2 in the eighth inning until Gimenez followed singles by Tony Gwynn Jr. and Juan Castro with a homer to left field off Rafael Rodriguez.
  • The next batter, Gabe Kapler, followed with another homer to left.
  • Matt Kemp narrowed the Dodgers’ early 3-0 deficit with a two-run homer, his third of the spring, in the bottom of the fourth after Andre Ethier singled.
  • In his first at-bat since his return from the eye doctor, Jay Gibbons singled.
  • Pitching the sixth inning, Jonathan Broxton got his first two strikeouts of the spring.

Lowlights:

  • A two-run double by Miguel Montero in the top of the fourth helped saddle Chad Billingsley with a three-runs-in-five-innings day.
  • Mike MacDougal loaded the bases in the ninth on two walks and a hit batter, escaping when Adam Eaton (no, not that Adam Eaton) lined into a game-ending double play (Justin Sellers to Eugenio Velez).

Sidelights:

  • The Dodgers got 12 hits today from 12 different players, and no walks.
  • Kim Ng gets the headlines, but Alex Remington of Fangraphs thinks we should be seeing even more women in prominent roles in major-league baseball.
  • Steve Dilbeck of the Times talks about how St. Patrick’s Day used to be the highlight of Spring Training at Dodgertown in Vero Beach and laments its passing.
  • At Baseball Savvy, Howard Cole’s latest interview subject is … well, there’s no other way to put this … me.
Mar 17

March 17 Game and March Madness Chat

George Mason back into the Sweet 16: My most unadulterated “this shouldn’t happen, but I’ll bet my bracket on the hopes that it will” pick. I’ve got Pittsburgh winning it all, but not with any confidence, either.

  • Jay Gibbons is hopeful he has solved his vision issues, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. He was told he had been wearing “the wrong prescription and the wrong size contacts.” I guess that would pretty much do it …
  • MLB Network has what it believes to be rare (if not unprecedented) footage of Dodger Hall of Fame pitcher Dazzy Vance, from his 1924 MVP season. Mitch Williams then analyzes Vance’s pitching style.
  • Bob Timmermann writes at Native Intelligence about the Dodgertown Classic game between UCLA and USC.
  • Ernest Reyes posts about a new book, “Brooklyn Dodgers in Cuba,” at Blue Heaven.

* * *

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.

Mar 16

Nighttime links

The tough news out of Spring Training today was the latest with former Dodger minor league manager Luis Salazar, who had to have his eye surgically removed as he battles to recover from the line drive that hit him last week.

Mar 16

State of the Opening Day roster: Update


Jake Roth/US PresswireDespite a 7.23 ERA last year with St. Louis, Mike MacDougal has taken advantage of Dodger injuries to carve out a chance at a roster spot.

On the last off day before the start of the season, this seems like a good time to check in on how the Dodger 25-man Opening Day roster is shaping up.

On track (18):

Starting pitchers (4): Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly

Relief pitchers (5): Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Matt Guerrier, Blake Hawksworth, Kenley Jansen

Catchers (1): Rod Barajas

Infielders (4): James Loney, Juan Uribe, Rafael Furcal, Jamey Carroll

Outfielders (4): Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Tony Gwynn Jr., Marcus Thames

Likely (3):

1) Casey Blake, 3B: The latest news on Blake sounds about as good as one might have expected – inflammation with no evidence of a muscle strain.  So while anything could happen, we won’t assume that he’ll be on the disabled list March 31.

2) Mike MacDougal, RP: A 0.00 spring ERA, veteran’s moxie and all the positive things people are saying about him in the press make MacDougal this year’s most likely prize off the scrap heap.

3) Dioner Navarro, C: A.J. Ellis can still be optioned to the minors, so we’ll put him aside. Though Hector Gimenez presents an alternative, Navarro seems safe.

Roster spot battles (4):

Norm Hall/Getty ImagesAn .847 spring OPS has helped make Hector Gimenez a longshot as opposed to a no-shot.

1) Jay Gibbons vs. Xavier Paul vs. Trent Oeltjen, OF, vs. Hector Gimenez, C/1B: Gibbons’ spring has been a nightmare, to the extent that Tony Gwynn Jr. might already have passed him in the pecking order for playing time. Xavier Paul, seemingly healthy and performing better as the month goes on, is now adding to the pressure while the eyesight-plagued Gibbons tries to solve his vision problems. A third-party candidate is Trent Oeltjen, who has been hitting all spring – and we’ll even leave open the possibility that Gimenez could take this spot instead of a sixth outfielder.  Chances: Gibbons 45%, Paul 35%, Oeltjen 10%, Gimenez 10%.

2) Aaron Miles vs. Ivan De Jesus Jr. vs. Justin Sellers vs. Juan Castro, IF: A veteran has the automatic edge when you’re talking backup infielder, so it seems safe to knock out De Jesus and Sellers, neither of whom have seized the day. Miles has had a better spring than Castro and is also centuries younger. Castro has that Brad Ausmus-like zen quality that Ned Colletti admires, but Miles has sufficient experience to fill the role. Chances: Miles 80%, Castro 10%, De Jesus 5%, Sellers 5%.

3) + 4) Ron Mahay vs. Scott Elbert vs. Ramon Troncoso vs. Lance Cormier, RP, vs. John Ely vs. Tim Redding, SP, vs. position player: These two final spots seem very much up for grabs at this point, compounded by the uncertainty over whether the Dodgers will start the year with four or five starting pitchers, and whether they’ll start with 11 pitchers overall or 12.

If they keep a fifth starter, it’s still an open battle. Both Redding and Ely can be sent to the minors, though the difference is if Redding is placed on the major-league roster, he would then have to clear waivers before he could go to Albuquerque (once, say, Vicente Padilla or Jon Garland was healthy). The Dodgers can yank Ely up and down this year at will.

Both Ely and Redding started the spring excellently, then faltered (like every other Dodger starter in the past week). Ely is on the upside of his career but with something to prove; Redding is on the downside of his career with something to prove. My guess is that even if Ely wins the job, the Dodgers won’t want him to lose his rhythm by pitching in long relief during the opening days of the season – meaning he would start the season in the minors and then come up April 12 when he is needed. I’m not sure they’d have those reservations with Redding.

Among the lefthanders, Mahay finally had a decent inning Tuesday, though the four batters he faced had 19 career major-league homers. Still, it’s hard to imagine that, short of a 180-degree turnaround, the Dodgers are ready to rely on Elbert, who has walked nine of 20 batters he has faced this spring.

Troncoso has outpitched both lefties, though I’m not sure the Dodgers are convinced he’s all the way back from his 2010 struggles. If he were, he and MacDougal would exchange places. Lance Cormier has gotten little attention while throwing four innings and allowing seven hits while striking out one, but he remains in the running.

And then there’s the chance the Dodgers go with an 11-man staff and keep six guys on the bench. Gimenez, anyone?

If the Dodgers were making their final cuts today, I’d predict they keep two relievers at the outset and fly Ely to San Francisco on April 12. Chances: Troncoso 45%, Mahay 45%, Cormier 30%, Ely 30%, Redding 25%, position player 20%, Elbert 5%.

Mar 15

Scrubs wash away Dodger losing streak

Jake Roth/US PresswireRafael Furcal stands before the world’s largest unicycle.

Dodgers 7, Rangers 6

After a 4-2 lead turned into a 6-4 deficit, the Dodgers came back to end their eight-game losing streak.

Highlights:

  • Ivan DeJesus, Jr. singled twice and scored two runs.
  • Juan Uribe drove in three runs with a bases-loaded walk and a two-run double.
  • Another hit for Trent Oeltjen, who is batting .467. His leadoff single in the eighth keyed a three-run Dodger rally.
  • Xavier Paul, Gabe Kapler and Eugenio Velez added singles in the eighth. Kapler took second on a wild pitch and scored the go-ahead run thanks to Velez.
  • Hong-Chih Kuo struck out two in a scoreless inning.
  • Blake Hawksworth and Ron Mahay pitched the final two shutout innings to seal the victory.

Lowlights:

  • James Loney and Rod Barajas each left the bases loaded in the first inning and went 0 for 3.
  • Uribe muffed a ball at third base for an error, leading to an unearned run off Clayton Kershaw.
  • Kershaw allowed 10 singles and a double, leading to five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings that marred his 0.00 ERA. He struck out three and walked none.

Sidelights: