Mar 15

March 15 game chat

Tony Jackson has a lengthy ESPNLosAngeles.com Dodger notebook today.

  • The Dodgers optioned Russ Mitchell and Jon Link and reassigned JD Closser and Roman Colon to minor league camp.
  • According to the Dodger press notes, the team will have pitchers bat for the remainder of exhibition play.
  • You can see work being done on the Dodger Stadium outfield walls, thanks to these photos at Roberto Baly’s Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • This was teased Monday afternoon: Former major leaguer David Newhan is trying to make a comeback from a near-fatal surfing injury. John Maffei of the North County Times has the story (via Hardball Talk).
  • This is cool: Josh Wilker wrote liner notes for “Cardboard Gods.”

Rangers at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.

Mar 14

Lindsey, Hoffmann among today’s cuts

The Dodgers sent John Lindsey, Jamie Hoffmann, Trayvon Robinson and Javy Guerra to minor league camp, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Shelburne talked to Lindsey about the news.

… “It’s my fault,” Lindsey said. “I got hurt and I just couldn’t get on the field. It’s harder to swallow this way though. It would’ve been easier if I’d had a great spring and they told me at the end of it that they just didn’t have room for me. …


Update:
Dee Gordon and Damaso Espino were also reassigned.

Mar 14

March Mudness


Rangers 5, Dodgers 4

Earl Pomerantz passes along this important lesson from Bill Cosby about panic.

… It’s the morning of the “table reading”, where the actors read the script out loud before the assembled production staff – fifty or so people – so we can see what’s working and what needs to be fixed. At this point, the actor who will play the freaked out father-to-be has not yet been hired. Dr. Cosby asks me to fill in for the missing actor and perform that part at the table reading.

I am immediately terrified.

Why? Well, in my own memorable words,

“What if I mess up?” (Though I may not have used the word “mess.”)

Dr. Cosby instantly replies to my exaggerated concern, and herein lies the life lesson,

“Bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the first.” …

Highlights:

  • Trying to find his way onto the team, Xavier Paul sings “Let My Love Open the Door” with a single and a triple (to go with a caught stealing as a coda).
  • Trent Oeltjen sings “Don’t You Forget About Me.” His double raised his spring OPS to 1.044 before the eyes of the impressionable Dodger management.
  • Jamie Hoffmann warbles “I’ll Be There For You” with a double, boosting his OBP in the spring to .400.
  • Marcus Thames doesn’t need to sing for his Opening Day supper, but he just had his fifth double of the spring, in 25 at-bats.
  • Trayvon Robinson singled in two runs in the ninth inning as the Dodgers tried to rally and avoid their eighth straight loss.
  • Lance Cormier pitched a shutout sixth inning. Cormier’s chances of making the team remain alive, given the struggles of Scott Elbert and Ron Mahay.
  • John Ely threw four walkless innings, giving him 10 this spring.

Lowlights:

  • Overall, Ely continued the trend of faltering Dodger starters. After a perfect first inning that included strikeouts of Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton, Ely allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, including a three-run Hamilton homer. Ely struck out three.
  • After allowing a two-out single, Elbert walked two in the fifth inning, escaping the bases-loaded jam on a deep flyout by David Murphy.
  • Kenley Jansen had a rough eighth, allowing a run on two hits and a walk.

Sidelights:

  • In a rare start against a frontline pitcher (Texas’ Neftali Feliz, who suddenly might be in the starting pitcher racket), Jerry Sands went 0 for 2.
  • Hector Gimenez had a double, then was doubled off second base on a ball hit by Gabe Kapler.
  • From The Associated Press: “Told that Ely was trying to locate an inside fastball off the plate that didn’t quite break far enough, Hamilton said smilingly, ‘Tell him thank you for me.’ “
  • Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com writes about the upside of the San Diego Padres, post-Adrian Gonzalez.
  • Rob Neyer of SB Nation looks at how the Yankees’ starting pitching crisis.
  • Only three of 30 MLB general managers played in the majors, writes Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
  • At his blog, Former major-leaguer Morgan Ensberg hints at a harrowing story.
  • Mitchell Page, who passed away Saturday, is remembered at the Hardball Times by Bruce Markusen, who compares Page to Willie Davis.
  • This Jay Gibbons update from Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com sounds a mixed note about the outfielder’s near-term future.

    … Gibbons underwent PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) surgery on the eye last fall as a follow-up procedure to the laser procedure he underwent in 2004. But a side effect of PRK is that it lengthens and flattens the cornea, which is why the contact — which Gibbons wasn’t sure he would need again after the original surgery — no longer fits as tightly as it should and tends to pop out.

    Gibbons said he was told he’d likely need a follow-up procedure after his initial laser surgery. “So that was pretty much what my thought process was, to get a tune-up, and [the vision] went south a little bit last year,” he said.

    The issues after the follow-up surgery, though, began almost immediately, causing Gibbons to return home from winter ball earlier than he planned. Gibbons and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly sounded optimistic this doctor’s consultation would be sufficient to solve the problem. The Dodgers are off Wednesday, so the hope was Gibbons would miss only one day.

    “We need to get this resolved,” Mattingly said. “If your [vision] isn’t right on and you’re trying to hit a breaking ball, it’s just not going to work.” …

  • Last but certainly not least, the Dodgers are staging a drive-through charity effort at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday to benefit victims of the disaster in Japan.
Mar 14

Jay Gibbons to have eye exams

The straightforward news of the day is that, as expected, Carlos Monasterios was optioned to the minors (while Wilkin De La Rosa was also reassigned to minor-league camp). But an issue that has been developing under the radar is the condition of Jay Gibbons.

Gibbons has two singles and a walk in 23 plate appearances this spring, a .221 OPS that by itself would be disappointing but also too small of a sample to really worry about. However, Dodger manager Don Mattingly told reporters today that Gibbons is having problems with depth perception and is going to miss the next couple of days of play for some extended testing on his eyes.

Mattingly said that so far, Gibbons has tried both contact lenses and glasses and neither has done the trick, so they’re trying to go back to find some contacts that will work.

With fellow left-handed hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. at least doing an imitation of a good outfielder (.387 on-base percentage, 6 for 6 on steals, quality defense), the Dodgers might well turn to a Gwynn-Marcus Thames platoon in the early going, with Gibbons serving as the fifth outfielder and as a backup first baseman — assuming his roster spot itself isn’t in jeopardy or that a trip to the disabled list doesn’t come.

It’s a tough break for Gibbons, who has had such a long journey back to the bigs.

The Dodger infield remains in flux as well, with Casey Blake now scheduled for an MRI, as Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports. The Dodgers remain optimistic, but we could see more lineups with Juan Uribe at third base and Jamey Carroll at second.

* * *

An article by Vin Scully — Inside the Dodgers passes it on. Read it with his voice in your head …

… One of the temptations we have today is like the song of the Lorelei, wrecking you on the rocks. So much is provided to you with statistics and information that you run the risk of looking down when a play is taking place. So you really have to be careful about that. Every game has somewhat of a story, an individual or maybe both of the pitchers. Someone is doing something that adds to the story. And then, of course, you can’t go overly dramatic in fourth game of the season with 158 games to go. But everything seems to fall into place in terms of the schedule, the game, where you are, the history of the teams. And they can get dull. Let’s face it – there are some games when nothing happens. And then it’s up to you to come up with a story or a historical aticidote to add a little spice to the telecast. …

* * *

Dodgers at Rangers, 1:05 p.m.

Mar 13

Five days, seven losses


Julie Jacobson/APRubby De La Rosa got the start against the Cubs today.

White Sox 6, Dodgers 1

Cubs 4, Dodgers 3 (10)

Highlights:

  • Rubby De La Rosa performed well in his two innings against the Cubs, retiring Kosuke Fukudome, Tyler Colvin, Alfonso Soriano, Blake DeWitt, Reed Johnson, Marquez Smith (who reached on an error) and Koyie Hill. The only baserunner he allowed was a Starlin Castro single.
  • Carlos Monasterios followed with two shutout innings.
  • Josh Lindblom pitched out of a ninth-inning jam with the game tied, 3-3.
  • Rafael Furcal had two hits and an RBI.
  • Hector Gimenez homered off the Cubs’ Chris Carpenter, who is 10 years younger than the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter. Jerry Sands also doubled against Carpenter.
  • Justin Sellers had an RBI double against the White Sox. Dioner Navarro also had a double.
  • Hiroki Kuroda became the first Dodger pitcher of 2011 to complete six innings, finishing with shutout ball over the final two frames.

Lowlights:

  • Kuroda gave up four runs in his first four innings, and struck out only one batter in his outing.
  • Sellers made his fifth error of exhibition play this year, leading to an unearned run.
  • Three hits (but four walks) for the Dodgers against the White Sox. Two of those hits came against Will Ohman.
  • Matt Kemp struck out with the bases loaded and two out in the top of the ninth against the Cubs’ Jeff Stevens.

Sidelights:

  • Casey Blake’s injury is more toward his ribs than his lower back, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

    … “All I’m doing is really icing it,” he said. “I was pretty sore last night, and I had some trouble sleeping. … I guess I don’t know enough about it to know whether it’s serious or not. I know I am pretty sore right now, but with treatment, that soreness can go away pretty soon. I think they were pretty relieved that it’s where it is, [because] that can go away in a day or two rather than if it were a pulled muscle or something like that. But we don’t know exactly what it is.”

    Blake left the game after laying down a sacrifice bunt in the top of the first inning. He ran hard up the first-base line and was called out on a close play. It was when he then turned to return to the dugout that he felt something in his back. …

  • Jon Huber has been sent to minor-league camp.
  • A fond look back at “Undeclared” and “Freaks and Geeks.”
Mar 13

Face it: injury-prone players are, in fact, injury-prone

Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesFinally, Matt Kemp masters the art of flying. All he had to do was listen to his coaches.

Royals 19, Dodgers 7

Giants 8, Dodgers 7

Casey Blake’s back tightness, though not considered major at this time, underscores the fact that you can’t keep older, injury-prone players like Blake and Rafael Furcal healthy just by keeping them rested. Blake has not been overexerting himself by any definition. These guys are just going to get hurt no matter what they do, and I see an argument once the season starts for not worrying about rest and getting all the production you can out of them until that next injury comes.

In any case, Tony Jackson has a piece at ESPNLosAngeles.com noting how much Juan Uribe will probably play at shortstop and third base this year.

Highlights:

  • Tony Gwynn Jr. went 3 for 3 against the Giants and stole his sixth base in as many tries.
  • Andre Ethier went 2 for 4 with a bases-loaded triple.
  • Trent Oeltjen went 2 for 2  vs. the Royals and hit a three-run homer off Denny Duffy.
  • Juan Uribe went 2 for 3 with a double.
  • Travis Schlichting, Jon Huber and prospect Allen Webster had shutout relief performances.
  • Trayvon Robinson tripled of Guillermo Mota.
  • The Dodger defense was charged with no errors in either game.

Lowlights:

  • Ted Lilly got blasted, ultimately getting charged with six runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Royals. “I wasn’t locating,” Lilly told The Associated Press. I missed quite a bit down in the dirt with my fastball. They just weren’t cleanly thrown balls.”
  • Ron Mahay is doing all he can to give away his roster spot, allowing his third home run in four short appearances and surrendering four hits, four runs and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.
  • Ramon Troncoso also got knocked around: five outs, six baserunners, four runs.
  • Tim Redding surrendered four runs in four innings against the Giants.
  • Roman Colon gave up four San Francisco singles in the bottom of the ninth as the Dodgers gave up a 7-6 lead.

Sidelights:

  • Clayton Kershaw tells Ken Gurnick of MLB.com not to worry about the split fingernail on the middle finger of his pitching hand because he gets them “all the time.” Gee, now I feel much better.
  • In the same notebook, Gurnick notes that Hong-Chih Kuo is feeling more confident about his developing changeup that could go with his fastball and slider.
  • John Ely, we’re now told, resisted listening to Dodger coaches who tried to help him during his second-half collapse last season, writes Jim Peltz of the Times.
  • Major League Baseball’s new official historian, John Thorn, writes an overview in the New York Times on the current state of information of the origins of baseball.

* * *

White Sox at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.

Dodgers vs. Cubs (at Las Vegas), 1:05 p.m.

Mar 12

March 12 split-squad chat

Innings played by position this spring:

C – Navarro (31.0), Mercado (4.0), Barajas (33.0), Ellis (43.0), Gimenez (18.0), Closser (3.0)
1B – Sands (25.0), Closser (16.0), Loney (28.0), Smith (4.0), Mitchell (41.0), Lindsey (7.0), Gimenez (10.0)
2B – Sellers (9.0), Pedroza (3.0), DeJesus (28.0), Herrera (4.0), Uribe (32.0), Miles (13.0), Velez (30.0), Carroll (8.0), Castro (4.0)
3B – Mitchell (8.0), Baez (4.0), Miles (26.0), Wallach (4.0), Blake (32.0), Sellers (14.0), Castro (10.0), DeJesus (18.0), Carroll (12.0), Lara (3.0)
SS – Castro (14.0), Lemmerman (4.0), Carroll (13.0), Gordon (36.0), Furcal (32.0), Sellers (23.0), Miles (5.0), DeJesus (4.0)
LF – Hoffmann (29.0), Velez (4.0), Paul (16.0), Cavazos-Galvez (4.0), Thames (18.0), Kapler (22.0), Sands (13.0), Gwynn (10.0), Gibbons (10.0)
CF – Kemp (40.0), Oeltjen (8.0), Gwynn (13.0), Robinson (52.0), Oeltjen (5.0), Hoffmann (9.0), Velez (4.0)
RF – Ethier (36.0), Silverio (4.0), Kapler (9.0), Russell (4.0), Paul (26.0), Gwynn (23.0), Hoffmann (5.0), Sands (12.0), Oeltjen (12.0)
DH – Gimenez (15.0), Thames (24.0), Delmonico (4.0), Kapler (4.0), Paul (8.0), Espino (5.0), Gibbons (16.0), Velez (1.0), Lindsey (3.0), Ethier (14.0), Hoffmann (3.0), Kemp (7.0), Oeltjen (4.0), Barajas (9.0)

Source: Dodgers press notes

* * *

In case you missed it, here’s Tony Jackson’s ESPNLosAngeles.com notebook on the Dodgers from Friday.

* * *

Dodgers at Royals, 12:05 p.m.

Dodgers at Giants, 12:05 p.m.

Mar 11

Nothing from nothing


After two 7-1 victories to start the week, the past few days have had a little something for everyone … meltdowns by the defense, the offense, Jonathan Broxton and Chad Billingsley. Health concerns. Mental mistakes. A feeding frenzy for the pessimistic (or realistic, if you wish).

I believe we call these teaching opportunities for the boys in blue.

Athletics 9, Dodgers 2

Highlights:

  • Aaron Miles and Matt Kemp continued their battle for the team home run lead, each hitting their second of the spring to tie Rod Barajas and Jerry Sands.
  • Blake Hawksworth pitched a near-fllawless 1 2/3 relief innings, though he hit one batter with a pitch.
  • Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect sixth inning with a strikeout.
  • Tony Gwynn Jr. reached base twice and has a .360 spring on-base percentage.

Lowlights:

  • Billingsley had only allowed seven baserunners in 6 2/3 innings in March before an all-over-the-place performance today: four hits, four walks, four runs allowed in 3 1/3 innings.
  • Jay Gibbons went 0 for 3 to fall to 1 for 17.
  • Infielders Ivan DeJesus Jr., Justin Sellers and Christian Lara made errors.
  • Javy Guerra allowed four runs (two earned) and walked three in two-thirds of an inning.

Sidelights:

  • Kirk Gibson’s wife left Game 1 of the 1988 World Series early. Eric Stephen passes along the story at SB Nation.
  • Juan Castro and his wife Yadira became parents for the second time Thursday night.
  • Pitcher Luis Vasquez was optioned to the minors.
  • Former Dodger Andy LaRoche, playing shortstop today for Oakland, drove in two runs.
  • All members of Takashi Saito’s family in Japan are now accounted for, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.
Mar 11

Concerns from Saito and Kuroda

Former Dodger reliever Takashi Saito has left Spring Training with the Milwaukee Brewers in an effort to try to reach his parents, whom he has not been able to contact since the Japan quake struck, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com also reports that Dodger pitcher Hiroki Kuroda has not reached his brother but believes him to be okay, but that Kuroda is concerned about such friends and former teammates as Kazuo Matsui and Akinori Iwamura.

At Inside the Dodgers, Josh Rawitch passes along his own concerns and best wishes.

* * *

Dodgers at A’s, 12:05 p.m.

Mar 11

Dream-weaving the Dodgers offense

My thoughts remain with the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.


Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireRafael Furcal, shaky sparkplug

It says something about how concerned people are with the Dodgers offense that even as pitchers Vicente Padilla, Jon Garland and Ronald Belisario have dropped off the probable Opening Day roster, the hitting is still the Dodgers’ primary concern. And not without good reason.

But there are a number of ways, not even high-apple-pie-in-the-sky ways, that the Dodgers offense could exceed the lowest expectations and prove adequate, if not above average. Here are some potential upsides for the batsmen:

250 total bases from Rafael Furcal
The Dodgers want Furcal to be reasonably healthy and reasonably productive. Reaching this milestone would indicate that Furcal was successful on both fronts. (Throw in about 50 walks and double-digit steals to top it off.)

The challenge: The 33-year-old hasn’t reached 250 total bases since his first year as a Dodger in 2006, when he had 291. In 2009, Furcal played in 150 games but struggled badly at the plate (probably playing at less than 100 percent); the following year he was on pace for a great season but couldn’t make it into more than 97 games. The problem with Furcal seems to be that he is simply not a quick healer these days.

The hope: Furcal could miss 30 games and still reach the plateau if his bat doesn’t take a holiday. Knowing the Dodgers have Jamey Carroll as a backup in the majors and Dee Gordon or Ivan De Jesus in the minors, the team can afford to give him days off or even a quick run on the disabled list to recover from lighter ailments in order to preserve him for the long haul.

2009 calls, and Matt Kemp answers
A year ago, we were wondering how Kemp might improve on his banner 2009 season. Today, everyone would be happy if he merely matched it. Lest we forget, that was a season, at age 24, when Kemp had a .352 on-base percentage, .490 slugging percentage, 34 steals in 42 attempts and defense that made you gasp, but not in horror.

The challenge: Finding out if Kemp still has a 2009 in him. Can he adjust, both to the pitchers who fooled him in 2010 and to the level of mental approach required of him over a full season?

The hope: It’s not unusual for players to take a step back before they take their next step forward. The Dodgers hope the presence of Davey Lopes will help provide the spring in Kemp’s step. Want a statistical beacon to look toward? Kemp’s batting average on balls in play last year was .295, after averaging .364 the previous three seasons. A little luck could go a long way.

Kyle Terada/US PresswireDioner Navarro



Dioner Navarro proves his signing wasn’t a clerical error

“I’ve made a huge mistake,” Gob Bluth of “Arrested Development” might have said had he woken up one morning and realized he had signed the once-and-future Dodger catcher to a $1 million contract after Navarro slogged out a .528 OPS in 2010.

The challenge: It wasn’t only 2010. Over the past two seasons, Navarro has a .263 on-base percentage and .306 slugging percentage in 163 games. Yes, offensive expectations are lower for a catcher, but that’s just useless. The Dodgers need their backup catcher to succeed because Rod Barajas can’t play every day (nor would you want him to), but investing too much patience in Navarro could be an investment in a black hole.

The hope: Navarro is still only 27, still only two seasons removed from a .349 OBP and .407 slugging. Totals like that would more than do the trick. Why the Dodgers think Navarro can recover, I cannot tell you, but this isn’t the stereotypical Ned Colletti signing of a veteran on the downslope of his career. This was a belief signing, a buy-low on a player who could still be entering his prime. Perhaps Navarro’s 2011 will show us why at the end of every hard-earned day people find some reason to believe.

James Loney stops hitting like Joe Shlabotnik
Kemp gets all the grief in the mainstream press, but for New School fans, it’s Loney who’s the bigger target. His RBI totals (especially relative to his opportunities) and his defense don’t make up for the overall production the Dodgers could really use from their first baseman.

The challenge: Among other things, proving that not one but two seasons of sub-.400 slugging percentage were just a pause that refreshes. And then there’s overcoming a walk-to-strikeout ratio that went from 1.03 in 2009 to 0.55 last year. And then … well, you get the idea.

The hope: Loney had an .803 OPS heading into the All-Star break last season, which isn’t exactly Albert Pujols, but it’s something to cling to. Folks still love his stroke, a stroke that delivered 19 homers, a .372 on-base percentage and .543 slugging percentage in his first 144 career games. Are we really to believe that Loney peaked at age 23?

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireAndre Ethier


Andre Ethier is no platoon player

Ethier had an .846 OPS in 72 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers as a rookie in 2006. That production has declined each and every year since, down to .625 in 178 PA last season.

The challenge: Actually, protecting that pivotal pinkie might be Ethier’s biggest 2011 worry, but presuming he can, the decline against lefties is more than a bit worrying. Four years of decline is tough to stomach even for a player of Ethier’s overall ability.

The hope: Ethier, who will be 29 in April, was on an MVP pace for the first several weeks of last season, so with loads of room to improve against lefties, his best year might still be ahead of him. The alternative is that the Dodgers softly begin resting him against lefties if a fellow by the name of Jerry Sands keeps knocking at the door.

Jerry Sands knocks at the door
The power-hitting 23-year-old minor-leaguer with all of 68 games above Class A has been perhaps the top story in the early days of spring training, as Dodgers fans unhappy with the current third-outfielder conglomerate look longingly for a savior.

The challenge: Handling temptation. Sands’ massive inexperience at the higher levels of the game makes the script all too easy to write – an early taste of success followed by a faceplant against major-league breaking pitches.

The hope: In 2006, Ethier and Kemp came up as rookies and, while they didn’t win permanent starting jobs right away, made unmistakable contributions toward that year’s division title. The Dodgers can’t expect Sands to become rookie of the year, but it’s not crazy to dream he (or Trayvon Robinson) could provide some lift to the sagging outfield picture.

A midseason trade gives offense a new gear
For all the talk of how the McCourt ownership has hamstrung player acquisitions, the Dodgers have not been silent at the trade deadline. Ted Lilly was no Manny Ramirez 2008, but he was a major splurge for a team barely hanging on in more ways than one. It’s sensible to assume that unless the Dodgers fall completely out of the race, Colletti will have the BlackBerry working.

The challenge: Making the trade worthwhile, both in terms of what comes in (spare us Scott Podsednik, please) and what goes out. If Rubby De La Rosa continues his rapid progress, and anyone from the group including Ethan Martin, Aaron Miller and Chris Withrow bounces back, the Dodgers will have no shortage of trade chips in pitching alone. But you don’t want to use them unwisely, not at all.

The hope: Right player at the right time, ideally without giving up the primo minor-league talent. They’ve done it before; could they do it again?

Mar 10

The knocks on Brox


Christopher Hanewinckel/US PressiwreCasey Blake made no errors in this fan’s eyes.

Padres 8, Dodgers 2

Highlights:

  • Clayton Kershaw maintained his 0.00 ERA, pitching 4 1/3 innings and allowing an unearned run on four hits and two walks.
  • Scott Elbert faced four batters in a shutout inning, walking one and striking out one.
  • Juan Uribe and Marcus Thames had doubles.

Lowlights:

  • Jonathan Broxton had a terrible, no-good, horrible, very bad day: homer by Jarrett Hoffpauir, single, single, hit batter, walk, exit. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.
  • Casey Blake made errors on consecutive batters in the first inning and went 0 for 2, dropping to 1 for 13 this spring.
  • Carlos Monasterios gave up two runs pitching the ninth inning.
  • Dodger batters had five hits and no walks.
  • Dodger pitchers allowed 18 baserunners.

Sidelights:

Mar 10

Garland injury confirmed, DL all but certain

An MRI confirmed that Jon Garland has a strained left oblique muscle, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com, all but confirming that he will start the season on the disabled list.

Wednesday, Jackson was among those who noted that the Dodgers “really don’t have to use a fifth starter until their 11th game of the season, April 12 at San Francisco, the first time they are scheduled to play a game on a fifth consecutive day.”

Going with only four starters in early April could allow someone like Xavier Paul to extend his Dodger stay past Spring Training.

  • Other late items from Jackson: The weird, thank-goodness-it-didn’t-happen-to-Matt Kemp explanation of why Andre Ethier didn’t end up starting Wednesday’s game, and a note that John Lindsey has reinjured his calf.
  • More at MLB.com from Ken Gurnick: Rubby De La Rosa is recovering from minor shoulder inflammation, and this update on Josh Lindblom …

    … Two springs ago, he came out of nowhere to nearly make the Opening Day roster after only 34 professional innings, but it’s been a roller coaster ever since. He’s been bounced between starting and relieving and passed by the likes of Rubby De La Rosa on the prospect depth chart. He had a 6.54 ERA at Triple-A Albuquerque last year. …

    Lindblom, a closer at Purdue and second-round Draft pick in 2008, said he’s determined to get back on track now that management has told him he’s exclusively a reliever again.“I got to the point where I lost who I was as a pitcher,” said the 23-year-old. “Instructional league helped me get back my delivery. It was tough going back and forth [between starting and relieving], but what happened I have to take ownership of. Most important, I let myself down. Now I’m settling into a role.” …

  • Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke’s basketball injury reminded Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy of the time Matt Kemp went all out at a charity hoops game at Westchester High.
  • Duke Snider, Jimmy Wynn and Willie Davis rank sixth, eighth and 11th all-time among MLB center fielders using a statistical measure called Weighted Wins Above Replacement (wWAR), according to Beyond the Box Score.

* * *

Padres at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m. (Prime Ticket)

Mar 09

Oblique-di, oblique-da, life goes on?

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireJon Garland will take a 0.00 Spring Training ERA to the doctor.

Mariners 9, Dodgers 4

Highlights:

  • Rod Barajas went 2 for 2 with his second homer of the spring.
  • Jerry Sands had another hit, briefly raising his Spring Training batting average to .500, before reaching base on an error in the eighth.
  • Dee Gordon doubled and scored on a Trent Oeltjen single in the eighth.
  • Josh Lindblom pitched a shutout ninth, striking out two and walking one.

Lowlights:

  • Obliquely speaking, one trumped all. Apparently, live chickens pass unpleasant mojo to Jon Garland.
  • Hong-Chih Kuo allowed a home run to his second batter, Jack Wilson.
  • Wilkin De La Rosa and Jon Huber, neither of them roster contenders, let a close game slip away. De La Rosa allowed two runs in his second inning of work, while Huber gave up a grand slam and five runs total while getting only one out in the seventh.
  • In his return to the lineup, James Loney went 0 for 2 with an error on Ichiro Suzuki’s leadoff at-bat.
  • Barajas’ passed ball allowed the Mariners to score an unearned first-inning run
  • Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Matt Kemp, Jay Gibbons, Juan Uribe, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Loney went a combined 0 for 16.

Sidelights:

  • Former Dodger minor-league manager and coach Luis Salazar, now a minor-league manager with the Braves, suffered frightening injuries after being hit in the face by a line drive today.
  • Andre Ethier was replaced today in the starting lineup by Gabe Kapler just before gametime.