Mar 11

Dodgers pitching to contact, winning

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Dodgers 5, Cubs 0

  • Following Ted Lilly’s three innings today, here is the combined line for Dodger starting pitchers in their past three day games: nine innings, six hits, two walks, zero runs, zero strikeouts.
  • Tony Gwynn Jr. and Matt Angle each had a hit and two RBI.
  • Trent Oeltjen had two hits and two runs.
  • The Dodgers’ embrace of the iPad and in particular an app from Bloomberg called “Sport Pitch Review” is chronicled in interesting detail by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Cory Sullivan is attempting a comeback of sorts after taking much of last season off to spend quality time with his daughter, writes Gurnick.
Mar 11

Fields emerges as leading Spring Training underdog

Cubs at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Tony Gwynn Jr., DH
Mark Ellis, 2B
James Loney, 1B
Jerry Sands, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Trent Oeltjen, RF
Tim Federowicz, C
Justim Sellers, SS
Matt Angle, CF
(Ted Lilly, P)

Though I’m not wishing to take away anything away from Cory Sullivan, whose ninth-inning grand slam lifted the Dodgers to a 10-6 victory over the White Sox late Saturday, I find myself thinking more this morning about Josh Fields.

No matter what he does in the spring, Sullivan is a 32-year-old fringe outfielder on a team with several stronger candidates. Never say never, but he remains a longshot to make a difference to the Dodgers and a much safer bet to become a Jason Romano-like footnote.

Fields, on the other hand, is still only 29 (younger than A.J. Ellis, for example), and he plays a position where the Dodgers are incredibly thin: third base. He also has power: 34 home runs in 713 major-league at-bats. That doesn’t mean he’s still not ultimately a Hector Gimenez in disguise, but there is a greater chance for Fields to mean something to the team.

The bar at third base for the Dodgers is so, so low: Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston Jr., Adam Kennedy. Fields is 7 for 11 with three extra-base hits so far in the spring, and if he keeps that up, you can see where he might play his way into the 25th spot on the roster and earn some starts at third base (and at first base against right-handed pitching, with Jerry Sands getting more seasoning in the minors).

Again, I’m not getting my hopes up that Fields is anything more than a 2012 version of Corey Smith, who went 7 for 12 last year in March and then disappeared. I’m also not convinced that his shaky glove (that includes 24 errors and negative Ultimate Zone Rating in 158 career games at third base) wouldn’t undermine his contributions at the plate. But I do know that the Dodgers need all the help they can get at the position, and that they would be much better off if Uribe were their top utility infielder instead of a primary starter at third base.

It can all all apart in a minute, but for now, Fields is one unexpected Spring Training sensation that I’m not going to reflexively dismiss, but rather will keep an eye on.

* * *

Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness offers a status update on the Dodger ownership race, a subject that I find myself with no desire to cover, despite its huge importance.

Mar 10

Eovaldi evolving

Dodgers at White Sox, 6:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Matt Kemp, DH
Juan Rivera, LF
Adam Kennedy, 1B
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
Jerry Sands, RF
A.J. Ellis, C
Ivan De Jesus Jr., 2B
(Chad Billingsley, P)

Dodgers 5, Mariners 5

Highlights:

  • Nathan Eovaldi duplicated Clayton Kershaw from the day before in throwing three shutout innings with no strikeouts.
  • Matt Chico and Josh Wall each pitched a shutout inning of relief with two strikeouts.
  • Josh Fields’ hot hitting continued: 2 for 4 with two RBI.
  • Matt Treanor homered in his first at-bat.
  • The Dodgers turned four double plays.

Lowlights:

  • Ronald Belisario allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits and a walk.
  • Alex Castellanos, who moved from left field to second base midway through the game, went 0 for 4 and also made an error that contributed to the unearned run.
  • Justin Sellers took a batted ball to the chin and had to leave the game.

Sidelights:

  • With one Mariner on and one out, the bottom of the fifth ended as J.P Hoonstra of the Daily News describes:

    … With (one out) and a runner on first base in the Mariners’ half of the fifth inning, Casper Wells lined a single to right field. Trent Oeltjen couldn’t come up with the catch but Wells mistakenly passed the runner, Michael Saunders, and was immediately called out. Oeltjen’s throw went to first baseman James Loney as Saunders took off for second base. The shortstop, Luis Cruz, didn’t realize that Wells was out and tagged second base with his foot thinking a force play was in effect. It wasn’t, but Saunders took a couple steps off the bag, Cruz tagged him out, and the inning was over.

  • Castellanos also completed a game-ending double play, catching a Tim Federowicz throw after a Wells strikeout and making the tag on Saunders.
  • Andre Ethier is day-to-day with back stiffness.
  • Don Mattingly to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com on the midseason firing of hitting coach Jeff Pentland:

    … “That coaching change wasn’t comfortable at all,” Mattingly said. “I love Pent, and I think he is really good at what he does. He has a ton of knowledge with the swing and how it works. It was tough, but somebody has to go if something is going badly, because you can’t get rid of the players. It happened to us in New York, whenever they would fire the manager or the pitching coach or whoever it might be. I always knew in that situation that we had failed as players. We let somebody down. We took the blame, but somebody had to go.” …

Mar 10

Paging Page

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Dodgers at Mariners, 12:05 p.m.
Justin Sellers, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Andre Ethier, RF
James Loney, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Cory Sullivan, CF
Josh Fields, DH
Matt Treanor, C
Alex Castellanos, LF
(Nathan Eovaldi, P)

Former NFL defensive back Jarrad Page from UCLA earned a minor-league deal with the Dodgers following their open tryout. Bill Shaikin of the Times points to this 2005 Ben Bolch story about the two-sport athlete, now 27.

In other news, the Lakers have offered a contract to Matt Kemp. (Not really, but I’ve heard worse ideas …)

* * *

David Pinto of Baseball Musings points to a New York Times online piece that offers audio of the Mets’ first Spring Training game in their history. In part of the excerpt, Howard Cosell talks about and to Gil Hodges.

* * *

At Opinion of Kingman’s Performance, Evan Bladh remembers umpire Harry Wendelstadt, who passed away Friday.

Mar 09

Dodgers clobber Rangers

Dodgers 9, Rangers 0

Highlights:

  • Lots to choose from on a day the Dodgers had 16 hits while shutting out the opposition.
  • Matt Kemp singled and homered.
  • Alex Castellanos singled and homered.
  • Andre Ethier singled and tripled.
  • Griff Erickson singled and doubled.
  • A.J. Ellis walked and doubled.
  • Dee Gordon walked, singled and stole a base.
  • Justin Sellers walked and singled.
  • Juan Rivera homered for his first spring hit in 10 at-bats.
  • Dodger relievers Angel Guzman, Scott Rice, Fernando Nieve and Ryan Tucker combined for six shutout innings.
  • And oh yeah, Clayton Kershaw pitched three shutout innings against the American League champs, though he struck out none.
Mar 09

Jansen to have heart checked

Dodgers at Rangers, 12:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
Matt Kemp, CF
Juan Rivera, DH
Andre Ethier, RF
Jerry Sands, 1B
Justin Sellers, 2B
A.J. Ellis, C
Scott Van Slyke, LF
(Clayton Kershaw, P)

Kenley Jansen experienced shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat Thursday night, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times, and is seeing a doctor today.

Jansen was on the disabled list in 2011 for an irregular heartbeat and began to take a blood-thinning medication. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has more.

… “He had a little bit of flutters and shortness of breath like last year with the palpitations and his blood pressure was up,” said manager Don Mattingly. “He had trouble sleeping. Sue (Falsone, trainer) said it could be nothing, but she didn’t want to play around with it.”

Mattingly said he hadn’t heard of Jansen experiencing any problems since last year’s incident and added that Jansen is already on blood pressure medication and “not supposed to take any caffeine.”

“This is the first I’ve heard of it since the issue last year,” he said. …

Update: Jansen has been cleared to resume workouts, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Mar 08

Capuano deguanoed

Dodgers 7, A’s 2

Highlights:

  • Chris Capuano struck out three in two shutout innings, allowing two singles.
  • Alex Castellanos hit his first home run in a Dodger uniform, off ex-Dodger Travis Schlichting.
  • Dee Gordon started things with the first of two walks on the day and then stole second. A double by Mark Ellis and a single by Matt Kemp then brought home two runs.
  • Andre Ethier capped a four-run Dodger sixth with a two-run double. Ethier also drew one of the Dodgers’ seven walks.
  • Josh Fields singled, making him 4 for 5 this spring.
  • Adam Kennedy went 2 for 2.
  • Tim Federowicz reached base twice, on a hit-by-pitch and a walk.
  • Todd Coffey struck out two in a perfect inning.
  • John Grabow, who had been nursing a sore calf, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, also pitched a perfect inning.
  • In his glowing review of the day, Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now notes that Kemp tagged from second to third on a foul-out to the first baseman.

Lowlights:

  • Days at the O-fer Inn: Trent Oeltjen, Tony Gwynn Jr., Juan Rivera, Ivan De Jesus Jr., Josh Bard, Lance Zawadzki.
  • Stephen Fife and Wil Ledezma each allowed late-inning runs.

Sidelights:

  • From differing perspectives, Maury Wills and Don Mattingly reflect on the effect of long-term contracts in this Gurnick piece.
  • Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com chronicles the visit of Cory Hahn, the former Southern California prep baseball player who was paralyzed in his first game for Arizona State.
  • Jackson said that non-roster invitee Scott Rice won the team’s annual “Dodgers Idol” competition with an original song about Kenley Jansen.
  • In a post that’s interesting if only for its detail about the baseball’s new draft salary structure, Conor Glassey of Baseball America looks deeper at who might end up with injured Harvard-Westlake righty Lucas Giolito. You might file this one away until June.
Mar 08

Smokejumpers forever!

A’s at Dodgers, 12:05 PM

Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
James Loney, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Tim Federowicz, C
Adam Kennedy, DH
(Chris Capuano, P)

Aside from the health of Andre Ethier’s mind, body and soul, the top story of the opening days of Spring Training appears to be how quickly the Dodgers might move their top relief pitcher, Kenley Jansen, into a role that reduces the value of his dominance. Good times.

Mar 07

Harang harangued

Dodgers 3, A’s 3

Highlights:

  • Cory Sullivan went 3 for 4 with a game-tying double in the seventh.
  • Kenley Jansen, Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra, Alberto Castillo and Will Savage combined to shut out the A’s after the fourth inning, each striking out one batter in one inning.

Lowlights:

  • In their past two games, the Dodgers are 1 for 23 with runners in scoring position.
  • Aaron Harang allowed two singles, two doubles and two runs in two innings.
  • Outside of Sullivan, the Dodger lineup went 1 for 25 …

Sidelights:

  • … with eight walks. Los Angeles’ two fourth-inning runs came without a hit.
  • Manny Ramirez “was scratched 20 minutes before the first pitch with stiffness in his back experienced while getting some extra at-bats in a simulated game,” according to The Associated Press.
  • Former Dodger Jon Meloan, the part of the Carlos Santana trade that actually saved the Dodgers cash, has signed a minor-league deal with Texas, Battling arm trouble, Meloan hasn’t pitched in the majors since throwing 8 1/3 shutout innings with 11 strikeouts in 2009 with Oakland.
  • Jason Repko (.555 OPS in 144 plate appearances with Minnesota last year) has signed a minor-league deal with Boston.
  • Hiroki Kuroda allowed three runs and three hits over two innings in his New York Yankee spring training debut.
  • Yu Darvish struck out three in two scoreless innings of his American spring debut.
Mar 07

Manny pedi

Dodgers at A’s, 12:05 PM

Jerry Hairston Jr., SS
Tony Gwynn Jr. CF
Jerry Sands, RF
James Loney, 1B
Russ Mitchell, 3B
Adam Kennedy, 2B
A.J. Ellis, C
Ivan De Jesus Jr., DH
Cory Sullivan, LF
(Aaron Harang, P)

Manny Ramirez is batting cleanup as the designated hitter for Oakland.

Bummer news from the prep ranks: top righthanded high school pitching prospect Lucas Giolito from Harvard-Westlake is out for the season. Eric Sondheimer of the Times has the report, while Dave Cameron of Fangraphs reports on how this might affect Giolito’s future — and whether this increases his chances of heading to UCLA.

Mar 06

Lilly hammered

Giants 8, Dodgers 4

Highlights:

  • Andre Ethier followed Monday’s double with a home run off a lefthander, the Giants’ Barry Zito.
  • Dee Gordon beat out an infield grounder to the right side for a single.
  • Ronald Belisario put that Dodger uniform on and pitched a shutout inning of relief.
  • Josh Lindblom retired all four batters he faced, if you don’t count an error by Josh Fields against him.
  • Tim Federowicz can throw, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Lowlights:

  • San Francisco’s first four batters of the game went homer, double, groundout, homer against Ted Lilly, who allowed five runs on six hits and a walk with one strikeout while facing 13 batters. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has more.
  • Dodger pitchers allowed 20 baserunners in all.
  • Matt Kemp struck out in both his at-bats, making him 0 for 4 with three strikeouts this spring. Roof caving in!

Sidelights:

Mar 06

Dodgers on Twitter

Giants at Dodgers,
12:05 PM

Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Juan Rivera, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Jerry Sands, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Matt Treanor, C
Jerry Hairston Jr., DH
(Ted Lilly, P)

Here’s your handy-dandy list of Dodgers (at least those on the 40-man roster) on Twitter:

Dodgers – @Dodgers
Todd Coffey – @ToddCoffey60
A.J. Ellis – @AJEllis17
Dee Gordon – @Skinnyswag9
Javy Guerra – @JavyGuerra54
Blake Hawksworth – @BlakeHawk425
Matt Kemp – @TheRealMattKemp
Josh Lindblom – @JoshLindblom52
James Loney – @JamesLoney_7
Justin Sellers – @SellBlock_12

I haven’t compiled the remaining feeds for others in the organization yet, but will try to do so for another post.

The Dodgers’ official team Twitter feed offers occasional contests with prizes, such as this.

Mar 05

Sons of anarchy: Next-gen Dodgers turn White Sox upside down

Dodgers 6, White Sox 4

Highlights:

  • In the sixth inning, four sons of former major leaguers – Tony Gwynn Jr. (single), Justin Sellers (double), Ivan De Jesus Jr. (triple) and Scott Van Slyke (booming home run) – produced a cycle for the generations.
  • Chad Billingsley retired six of seven batters on 21 total pitches, a feat chronciled by Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Winning pitcher Angel Guzman retired all four batters he faced.
  • Andre Ethier had the Dodgers’ first hit of the spring, a double, and first run. Ethier looked physically fit legging out the two-bagger, writes J.P Hoonstra of the Daily News.
  • Josh Fields went 2 for 2.
  • Three of Nathan Eovaldi’s five outs were strikeouts.
  • Adam Kennedy made a great defensive play at third base on behalf of Billingsley.
  • Scott Rice struck out two in his inning of relief.

Lowlights:

  • Eovaldi allowed two hits and two walks.
  • Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon were among seven 0-for-2 Dodgers.
  • Ryan Tucker allowed two runs in the ninth inning.

Sidelights:

  • Attention, Double-A Dodgers and friends: Chattanooga will be the site of some filming of 42, the upcoming Jackie Robinson feature starring Chadwick Boseman (with Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey and Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher), and the filmmakers will casting for local ballplayers to appear, according to Nooga.com.
  • Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen made the Crashburn Alley “Unbeatable” team aimed at winning each of the next 10 World Series. (And Davey Lopes was named first-base coach.) Kemp, I gather, was considered too old?
  • Mark Sweeney has left his front-office job with the Dodgers to become a Padres TV analyst.
  • Daily News sportswriter Jon Gold wrote a moving obituary for his sister, Amy Wishnie. You’ll not read anything more meaningful for some time.
Mar 05

Spring Training Opening Day

“The crack of the bat! The roar of the crowd! That’s right — baseball’s back!” And I see no better way to celebrate than running this Newsradio clip about Opening Day. Bill McNeal forever …

Dodgers vs. White Sox,
12:05 PM

Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
James Loney, 1B
Adam Kennedy, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., DH
(Chad Billingsley, P)

  • The 100th anniversary of the Ebbets Field groundbreaking was Sunday, and Chris Jaffe put it some context at the Hardball Times.
  • Tweet of the day Sunday: Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. tried to pass the blame to autocorrect for the following:

    Catcher’s dream: Matt Treanor gets to call balls an strikes while bathing Clayton Kershaw in the intrasquad game

  • J.P. Hoonstra has joined the springtime beat coverage of the Dodgers, representing the Los Angeles Newspaper Group (Daily News, etc.). Here’s his notebook from Sunday, led by Clayton Kershaw.
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven continues to supply us with vintage Dodger clips.
  • More from Reyes: a 1943 photo of Roy Campanella in Mexico.
  • The National League West is previewed by Jay Jaffe and Geoff Young for Baseball Prospectus. It’s not exceedingly pretty.
  • Fangraphs ranks the 2012 Dodger catching the worst in the majors. I still find it hard to believe this possible when your starting catcher has a career .360 on-base percentage in the majors and .406 in the minors.
  • In his spring debut, Arizona pitcher Trevor Bauer exceedingly impressed Keith Law of ESPN.com. More signs that Bauer could have a Kershaw-like effect on the Diamondbacks.
  • Who is the greatest character on The Wire? Alex Pappademas of Grantland sets up a 32-player bracket. The seedings are highly questionable, however.
  • My summary of The Lorax: Good for kids, but disappointing for this here grown-up. No matter where you stand on the Seuss or environmental spectrum, the premise seems stretched beyond what it was meant for. For a new movie that’s truly for all ages, try The Secret World of Arriety.