Mar 09

Jon Garland leaves start with injury

Here’s Tony Jackson’s initial report for ESPNLosAngeles.com:

Jon Garland left Wednesday’s Cactus League game with two outs in the top of the second inning because of a left-oblique injury. There was no immediate diagnosis or prognosis, but Garland said he would meet with a team doctor either later in the day or early Thursday morning.

Garland said no actual tests have been scheduled, but that, “I’m sure they are going to want to do that.”

Garland, whom the Dodgers signed in November to a one-year, $5 million contract with an $8 million club option for 2012 to be their fifth starter, was making just his second start of the spring. After throwing the first pitch to Seattle Mariners shortstop Josh Wilson, his 30th pitch of the game, Garland knelt down on the front of the mound, stood back up and immediately made a gesture toward the dugout to summon trainer Stan Conte.

Garland then walked around the mound for a minute or two while clutching his left side before ultimately walking off the field with Conte. …

Bill Shaikin of the Times wrote that “although the Dodgers have not identified the problems, his actions were consistent with an oblique injury, which can require a month or more of recovery.”

With Vicente Padilla out, the leading candidates to replace Garland if he’s out of the rotation for the start of the season would be Tim Redding and John Ely.

Mar 09

March 9 game chat

Nam Y. Huh/APDee Gordon catches a ball hit by the Brewers’ Ryan Braun during the sixth inning Tuesday. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has a new profile on Gordon today.

Rejected Spring Training mottos: “To the death. No. To the pain.”

  • Though the Dodgers themselves are no longer involved, there will be an adult baseball camp at the Vero Beach Sports Village formerly known as Dodgertown in November. Click here for details.
  • Don’t forget that the Dodgertown Classic, featuring a doubleheader of Georgia-St. Mary’s and USC-UCLA, takes place Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Concessions are half-price and parking is free.
  • From the Dodger press notes: “Today is the official reporting day for all Dodger minor leaguers. According to minor league clubhouse stalwart Troy Timney, there are 148 players arriving in camp and 198 lockers in the clubhouse. Minor league games will begin on March 18. “
  • Also: “Through 12 games, Dodger starters have posted a minuscule 1.09 ERA.” (four earned runs in 33 innings).
  • It’s Scorekeeping Week at Pitchers and Poets, and today offers a fun interview with Mariners broadcaster Dave Sims.
  • Tweets by Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com this morning:

    Live chicken in Furcal’s locker.

    Lenny Harris was claiming it was Furcal, who had been turned into a chicken. But then Furcal walked in.

    Chicken update: all they did was turn him loose in the clubhouse during the team meeting this morning.

    when I said turn HIM loose, I was making a gender assumption that I hadn’t bothered to confirm. Nor will I bother to confirm.

* * *

Mariners at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m. (Prime Ticket)
Rafael Furcal, SS
Casey Blake, 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, DH
James Loney, 1B
Juan Uribe, 2B
Jay Gibbons, LF
Rod Barajas, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF

Mar 08

Dodgers dial long distance for second game in a row


Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images (file)Tony Gwynn, Jr., who has five regular-season homers in his major-league career, went yard today.

Dodgers 7, Brewers 1

Highlights:

  • Tony Gwynn Jr.’s leadoff homer against Takashi Saito kicked off a Dodger power parade, which included circuit clouts by Aaron Miles, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Each member of the latter trio went 2 for 3.
  • Ethier, Ivan De Jesus Jr. (also 2 for 3), Dioner Navarro and Justin Sellers notched doubles.
  • Starting against the team that he faced when Elymania launched, John Ely threw three shutout innings, retiring nine of 10 batters and striking out two.
  • The Dodger defense impressed Milwaukee’s broadcast team, said Dodger Thoughts commenter Bob Hendley.

Lowlights:

  • Ron Mahay allowed his second homer in three innings this spring, this to left-handed hitting Prince Fielder.
  • Jay Gibbons, still trying to find his form, went 0 for 3 and is 1 for 12 in the early going.

Sidelights:

  • Benches cleared in the sixth inning of today’s game, notes The Associated Press, over a Roman Colon fist pump.
  • Hiroki Kuroda worked on his endurance today in a 4 1/3-inning B-game outing, in which he struck out six while allowing three runs, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Jerry Sands was among those who played a doubleheader of sorts today: RBI single in the B game, pinch-walk in the A game. Sellers also had an HBP in the B game.
  • Milwaukee has bigger things to worry about than today’s loss: Newly acquired pitcher Zack Greinke is nursing a broken rib.
  • Would Frank McCourt sue Major League Baseball over being denied his recent attempt at a $200 million loan from Fox? Friend of Dodger Thoughts BHSportsGuy wonders in a guest post at True Blue L.A.
  • As Kim Ng noted this morning, Sandy Koufax visited Camelback Ranch today.
  • James Loney and Raymond Carver are connected by Jesse Gloyd at Buckshot Boogaloo.
Mar 08

March 8 game chat

Enter, stage left …

  • Buster Posey will make $575,000 next season, according to Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Hardball Talk). That’s $75,000 more than Clayton Kershaw despite more than a year less in service time. I understand that Posey is underpaid with regards to pure talent, but I’m a little surprised he got that nice a raise.
  • Don Mattingly told reporters this morning that James Loney and Jamey Carroll are expected to return to game action Wednesday.
  • Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness is the latest blogger to be interviewed by Howard Cole of Baseball Savvy. Petriello was a huge contributor to the 2010 Maple Street Press Dodgers Annual, and one of the main reasons I was sorry Maple Street chose not to do one again this year.
  • Evan Bladh Sr. of Opinion of Kingman’s Performance has a healthy post on an obscure but memorable record: Rod Carew stealing home on seven straight attempts in 1969.
  • The Onion posts too many great headlines to consistently track, but I couldn’t let this one go: “Jim Joyce Accidentally Deletes Book He’s Writing With Armando Galarraga.”
  • Five-time Oscar nominee King Vidor wrote to Jim Murray about deplorable Dodger Stadium bathrooms in 1974. Letters of Note has the full text.

* * *

Dodgers at Brewers, 12:05 p.m.

The Dodgers also had a B game this morning against the Mariners.

Mar 08

Kim Ng departure is official

From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

… “We haven’t worked out all the details, but a lot of my focus will be on international operations, such as the Dominican Republic,” Ng said at the Dodgers’ spring-training complex. “I talked to Joe, and he described the job, and it was something of interest to me. It took a while to process and think about. I finally came to the conclusion this job was a fantastic opportunity that I couldn’t afford to let pass me by.”

Ng denied that her decision had anything to do with any instability within the Dodgers organization resulting from owner Frank McCourt’s divorce and the possibility that the team will have to be sold.

“This is really about the opportunity in front of me,” she said. “Like I said, I have a chance to help Joe help the commissioner in changing policy and having an impact on the game in a meaningful way. That (instability) really wasn’t a part of this. Frank has been very good to me, and (general manager) Ned (Colletti) has been very good to me. This was an extremely difficult decision for me. I have been with this organization for almost half my career, and that was a big factor.

“The people I have been around all this time — I just walked in the door with Sandy Koufax — those are some of the things I am going to miss.” …

Ng said she still has the goal of becoming a general manager.

“Obviously, I have a job to do in the commissioner’s office, and I am fully committed to that,” she said. “This is a chance for me to contribute in a meaningful way to the game. In terms of my longterm aspirations, they are still there. I think if anything, this will make me a more well-rounded candidate.”

Jackson adds that “it wasn’t immediately clear whether the Dodgers — who have two other assistant GMs in Logan White, who runs the team’s amateur scouting department, and DeJon Watson, who runs the team’s player-development system — plan to hire a replacement for Ng.”

Mar 07

Report: Kim Ng leaving Dodgers for MLB exec position


Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireAs an assistant general manager in baseball, Kim Ng went to the postseason eight times.

Many is the time that we both welcomed and feared this moment – the moment that Kim Ng would be rewarded for her considerable acumen by a higher profile job.

The only difference is that we envisioned her becoming the majors’ first female general manager, but now we’re contemplating whether she might someday become MLB’s first female commissioner.

A report by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com says that Ng, the Dodger vice president and general manager, will become senior vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball. Though the report has not been confirmed on the record, we’re thinking that an official announcement could come as soon as Tuesday morning, ending her nearly decade-long run in Los Angeles.

There’s never been an accurate way to quantify Ng’s talents, much the same as it is for all of us who don’t make a living by trying to score runs, points or goals. But there has just been too much widespread respect for her to suggest that she hasn’t been a talent on the rise. The assumption is that Joe Torre, recently named MLB executive vice president of baseball operations, recognized this as well.

Who knows … if she doesn’t stay in the MLB executive suite, maybe someday, she’ll take another turn and find her way back to Los Angeles. But in the meantime, while the Dodgers will certainly miss her, I very much want to take this opportunity to congratulate her. Well done.

Update: Bill Madden of the New York Daily News has a separate story on this. An excerpt:

With Joe Torre now in place as executive VP of operations, Major League Baseball has undertaken a major restructuring of the department. Three senior officials were fired, while former Arizona Diamondbacks GM Joe Garagiola Jr. maintains his title of senior VP but accepts a demotion from a supervisory role to the “dean of discipline” position.

In what one MLB employee described as a “bloodbath,” VP of umpiring Mike Port and longtime VP of administration Ed Burns were fired on Thursday, along with ex-Met outfielder Darryl Hamilton, the senior specialist of on-field operations. …

Replacing Port, Garagiola and Burns as the senior officials working directly under Torre are Kim Ng, the former assistant GM of the Yankees who has been serving in the same position for the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2002, and Peter Woodfork, former assistant GM of the Diamondbacks. Woodfork, who also worked in MLB’s labor relations department under executive VP Rob Manfred, is slated to be Torre’s “point man” with the umpires, while Ng’s primary responsibilities will be in the players’ area. …

Although much was made of Torre’s hiring by commissioner Bud Selig on Feb. 26 at a reported salary of $2 million, all the changes within operations were said to be in the works before he came aboard. Of the new people, only Ng had ever worked with Torre before and, like him, she was eager to flee what has become a Dodger cuckoo’s nest under battling owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, who are in the midst of increasingly messy divorce proceedings.

Continue reading

Mar 07

‘Sands and Deliver’: Homer and triple by rookie propel Dodgers

Harry How/Getty ImagesJerry Sands (shown here from a February 28 game) homered and tripled for the Dodgers today.

Dodgers 7, Rockies 1

Highlights:

  • Jerry Sands homered in the seventh off Greg Reynolds and tripled in the eighth off Matt Belisle, driving in three runs with the first blast. More exuberance!  More of me saying he won’t make the team until at least May.  More of me silently wondering to myself whether, if James Loney reaggravates his knee,  the door to April creaks open.
  • Xavier Paul ended his early spring slump with a homer ahead of the Sands triple.
  • Juan Uribe, Marcus Thames and Trayvon Robinson added doubles for the power-starved Dodgers.
  • Hey, singles count too: A.J. Ellis went 2 for 2.
  • Ted Lilly allowed a run in 3 1/3 innings, allowing three baserunners and striking out two.
  • Tim Redding pitched three shutout innings in relief, increasing his chances of being the first starting pitcher after the front five that the Dodgers turn to in case of need.

Lowlights:

  • Rafael Furcal and Matt Kemp went 0 for 3.

Sidelights:

  • An excerpt from the new Roy Campanella biography can be found at Alex Belth’s Bronx Banter.
  • Josh Wilker’s “Cardboard Gods” is now out in paperback.
Mar 07

Vin Scully will stick to radio on Opening Day

Often when the Dodgers head into the national TV spotlight, such as the playoffs, the question comes up: Why not pass the microphone to Vin Scully?  Even for an inning, we know that there are tons of people across the country who would enjoy hearing him broadcast, and the world could certainly survive for three or six outs without the usual ESPN, Fox or Turner crew.

Kirby Lee/US PresswireVin Scully reacts after throwing out the first pitch before the 2009 Opening Day game against the Giants.

Anyway, I asked an ESPN spokesperson to find out if such a move was being considered for the network’s Opening Day broadcast of the Dodgers against the Giants, and the answer was no. In general, it seemed like a longshot, and in particular, I was told, ESPN is focusing on introducing its new Sunday Night Baseball broadcasting team of Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine, all of whom will be handling the March 31 game.

I have no idea if Scully is even willing to lend himself to the national broadcast, but I still think it’s a good idea at some point, and hopefully sooner than later. In any case, Scully will be heard on the radio on Opening Day this year.

* * *

By the way, some of you might remember when the Dodgers were accused of standing in the way (not without justification) of ESPN moving that Opening Day game from Los Angeles to San Francisco, so that the network could broadcast the Giants’ banner-raising celebration as part of the whole show. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle now reports that Giants players had just as much of a part in saying no as the Dodgers.

… The schedule called for a four-game opening series in Los Angeles. ESPN wanted to move the first game to AT&T Park on March 31. The teams then would have flown to Los Angeles and played the final three.

“The schedule didn’t seem like everything would work out right,” Giants union representative Matt Cain said. “It’s a short flight, but that’s a lot of traveling so early.”

Feeney said the collective bargaining agreement allows for one-game series in two instances: rainout makeups and Opening Day. The Dodgers did not like the idea of moving the opener to San Francisco, logistically but also on principle.

“They really didn’t want it,” Feeney said, “but Major League Baseball could have told the Dodgers, if the players approved, it was going to happen.” …

Link via Bill Shaikin of the Times. And since we’re on the subject of the Dodgers and the Giants, here’s an on-target “Honeymooners” clip passed along by Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven.

* * *

Signing Cliff Lee gave the Phillies a great starting rotation, but it did not ward off the injury bug. Not only has Philadelphia lost Dominic Brown (who was slated to replace Jayson Werth in right field) to a broken hand, but star second baseman Chase Utley has a worrisome right knee.

Top alternatives for the Phillies at the keystone sack include ex-Dodgers Wilson Valdez and Delwyn Young, writes Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Mar 06

Loss to Cubs? Dodgers mullet over

Cubs 5, Dodgers 3 (10)

Highlights:

  • Chad Billingsley (above) went 3 2/3 innings before giving up the first earned run allowed by a Dodger starting pitcher this weekend. He allowed four baserunners and struck out two.
  • Ramon Troncoso retired all four batters he faced (one admittedly on a dicey umpire’s call) and has allowed one hit in 3 1/3 shutout innings. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more on Troncoso’s growing chances of making the Opening Day roster.
  • The platoon of Jay Gibbons (wearing awesome big white sunglasses, the best Dodger eyewear since Eric Gagne) and birthday boy Marcus Thames went 2 for 5 with an RBI double (by Thames).
  • Aaron Miles tripled in his only at-bat.
  • Ivan De Jesus, Jr. made a nice backhand grab running into the outfield, drawing a big smile from the Cubs’ third-base coach, Ivan De Jesus, Sr.


Lowlights:

  • Justin Sellers committed a double-error (bobble and bad throw) on the Dodgers’ first defensive play of the game.
  • Right fielders Xavier Paul and Jerry Sands combined for a golden sombrero.
  • Luis Vasquez the Magician made the game disappear when he allowed a two-run walkoff homer to D.J. LeMahieu in the bottom of the 10th.


Sidelights:

  • In the above-referenced piece by Jackson, he addresses the James Loney situation.

    Although the tightness in first baseman James Loney’s knee isn’t serious and Loney tentatively is expected back in the lineup by Wednesday, the momentary scare did underscore the fact the Dodgers don’t have a lot of depth at Loney’s position.

    Third baseman Casey Blake and outfielders Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames all have some experience — but not a lot of it — at first base, and Mattingly said any or all of them could be a viable alternative if Loney were to be lost for, say, two or three games. But if Loney suffered a major injury that sidelined him for a month or more?

    In that case, Mattingly said, the Dodgers would have to bring up a first baseman from the minors. And the most likely candidate would be Russell Mitchell, a third baseman by trade who also can play left and right field but played all of 13 games at first for Triple-A Albuquerque last year.

    “We feel like Russ can be pretty flexible,” Mattingly said. “He can handle himself out there, and he has actually played some second. He even did some catching in the Instructional League, so we feel like we could trust him with catching. That emergency third catcher can be pretty valuable in the National League because it allows you to maybe pinch run for your catcher without having to get nervous about not having another catcher left on the bench.” …

  • Ken Gurnick of MLB.com and Steve Dilbeck of the Times have more on Loney.
  • The Dodgers’ starting baseman is still healthier than the Angels’ Kendry Morales, notes Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Angels might turn to Triple-A power hitter Mark “Don’t call me Dalton” Trumbo, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Times.
  • Scott Elbert is working on a mechanical adjustment, writes Gurnick, who adds that Jamey Carroll will miss a few days of game action after being hit by a pitch on his right index finger (X-rays were negative).
  • Josh Suchon says that he and his new KABC 790 AM talkmate Joe Block will be the broadcast team for Dodger games on Prime Ticket this Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Mullet Mania: Jackson gave us a hint this morning, but later came the full story on Travis Schlichting’s new ‘do from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

    I understand that this is going out on a fragile limb above a pool shared by sharks and alligators, but I witnessed the greatest mullet in baseball history Sunday morning, and I refuse to believe otherwise.

    Randy Johnson may have sported the curly afterbirth on his neck, and John Kruk may have rocked the accompanying gut, and Troy Tulowitzki may have had the ironic twist to his charity mullet, but nobody – nobody – can compete with the absolute resplendence that topped Travis Schlichting’s head on Sunday. …

Mar 06

‘A good day for those kinds of dreams’

Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com chronicled about the pitching matchup between female baseball starting pitchers Marti Sementelli of Birmingham High and Ghazaleh Sailors of San Marcos. Also watch the video above.

* * *

Jim Murray writes about Walter O’Malley, February 1961 (via the Daily Mirror).

* * *
Dodgers at Cubs, 12:05 p.m. (WGN TV)
Trayvon Robinson, CF
Tony Gwynn Jr., LF
Jay Gibbons, DH
Dioner Navarro, C
Xavier Paul, LF
Ivan DeJesus Jr., 2B
Russ Mitchell, 1B
Aaron Miles, 3B
Juan Castro, SS
(Chad Billingsley, P)

Mar 05

Kershaw cruises in Dodger shutout


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesScott Rolen and Russ Mitchell in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Line Dancers”

Dodgers 2, Reds 0

Highlights:

  • Clayton Kershaw pitched four shutout innings, allowing two baserunners and striking out three.
  • Lance Cormier, Jon Huber, Roman Colon, Wilkin De La Rosa and Oscar Villarreal completed the shutout, allowing four hits, walking one and striking out one.
  • Matt Kemp doubled in Casey Blake in the fourth inning.
  • Dee Gordon singled, stole second and scored in the eighth inning after singles by Aaron Miles and Trent Oeltjen.
  • John Lindsey doubled in his first spring at-bat.
  • The Dodgers turned three double plays.

Lowlights:

  • We’re going to give lowlights the evening off …

Sidelights:

  • Ralph Branca shared his memories of Duke Snider in the New York Times.
  • The Dodgers were dead last in 2010 international spending with a mere $314,000, according to Baseball America. The efforts to step it up outside our borders are lagging, to say the least.
  • Minor-leaguer Luis Vasquez is a “clubhouse sensation” with his magic tricks, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
Mar 05

James Loney to have MRI on knee


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesCarlos Monasterios and Jon Link get some work in before Friday’s game.

His left knee is aching. If he were an old man, we’d just assume rain was coming, but he’s a ballplayer, so instead James Loney will have an MRI performed, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

… manager Don Mattingly said he wasn’t overly concerned.Mattingly said Loney first began to feel it during stretching exercises before Thursday night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, then felt it again after playing four innings on Friday night against the San Francisco Giants.

“He feels it when he gets to a certain point in his stretching,” Mattingly said. “It seems like it [isn't serious], because he isn’t feeling any pain, and he played last night. But these guys know their bodies pretty good, and with the knee, we want to be a little careful. We just want to find out what it is.”

Team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache is expected to arrive at the Dodgers’ spring training facility sometime on Saturday, and Mattingly said he hoped ElAttrache would have a chance to examine Loney’s MRI results and render an opinion by the end of the day. …

* * *

  • Mike Piazza talked to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com about potentially becoming a baseball team owner someday.
  • From the Dodger press notes: “The Dodgers would like to wish a very happy birthday to right-handed pitcher Mike MacDougal, who turns 34 today. MacDougal shares his big day with former Dodgers Kevin Brown, Paul Konerko and Chad Fonville. A little known fact is that MacDougal’s given name is actually Robert Meiklejohn. Meiklejohn is his mother’s maiden name. Now you know. “

* * *

Reds at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Rafael Furcal, SS
Casey Blake, 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Jay Gibbons, DH
Juan Uribe, 2B
Rod Barajas, C
Russ Mitchell, 1B
Gabe Kapler, LF
(Clayton Kershaw, P)