Mar 22

The ever-prodigal Jamie Hoffmann returns to the Dodgers


Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
Jamie Hoffmann was 3 for 23 with three walks for the Yankees this spring.

The Dodgers are like the island on “Lost” for Jamie Hoffmann, who can’t seem to stay away no matter how often he leaves or how far he goes.

Designated for assignment last summer only to return, then taken by the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft in the winter, Hoffmann once again is a Dodger, according to multiple news reports, after failing to make the Yankee Opening Day roster and clearing waivers. Hoffmann figures now to start the season in the Dodger minor leagues, competing with Jason Repko for a midseason callup if neither is traded.

In other Dodger news, Russell Martin was hit by a Tim Corcoran pitch at practice this morning. Dodger manager Joe Torre said Martin’s back and wrist were casualties, but there was “no damage.”

Torre continued to show support for Charlie Haeger, among others — to the point where it almost seems a roster spot is being preserved for him.  “I have high regard for him,” Torre said. “We probably wouldn’t pitch him in Colorado, but I don’t think anybody wants to pitch there. Arizona is different since it’s indoors.”

I’m a little surprised by Torre’s affection for Haeger only because of how quickly he was buried last summer after that one bad inning in Cincinnati. Haeger allowed runs in only three of the 20 innings he commenced for the Dodgers last season.

Update: Ken Gurnick of MLB.com clarifies that Martin was hit not by one pitch but by three.  “It got a little too simulated,” Torre said. “There was no damage. He was lucky on the one on the wrist. It was a little too uncomfortable to continue.”

Gurnick also notes that the Dodgers released shortstop Angel Berroa.

Mar 12

Taiwan Game 2 chat – with Ronald Belisario update

There are reports of rain, but in case there’s a game and you’re not sleepy …

* * *

Dodger third-base coach Larry Bowa was released from the hospital today after a CAT scan examination brought on by abdominal pains. Tom Singer of MLB.com has details.

Tony Jackson’s ESPNLosAngeles.com notebook from the day at Camelback (Dodgers lost, 3-2) features Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Monasterios and Aroldis Chapman.

Update: Ronald Belisario has been found, by Ignacio Serrano of ESPNdeportes.com. In advance of his story, Serrano tweeted that Belisario hopes to have his visa by Monday, that he is in good shape and will only need two bullpen sessions to be game ready, and that he hasn’t missed any appointments with the American embassy in Caracas.

Update 2: Here’s the Serrano column. Link is to the original Spanish version; below is a Google translation. Continue reading

Mar 12

Dodger Stadium-Union Station shuttle service returns

Former Griddle blogger Bob Timmermann passes along the news that bus service between Union Station and Dodger Stadium has been restored, according to Zach Behrens of  LAist, thanks to a $300,000 grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Timmermann, who just completed work on his presidential biography blog One Through Forty-Two or Forty-Three, gets a fine introduction for his new post as a contributor to L.A. Observed from the site’s main man, Kevin Roderick.

* * *

UCLA baseball is off to a 10-0 start, and Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com looks at the two pitchers who have played a big role:  Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. To attend UCLA, Cole turned down the Yankees after being drafted in the 2008 first round out of Orange Lutheran High School.

* * *

Here’s Ramona Shelburne’s postgame report from Taiwan for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Mar 11

Why Don Mattingly and not Tim Wallach?

Steve Dilbeck questions the Dodgers’ fascination with coach Don Mattingly over Albuquerque manager Tim Wallach at Dodgers Blog, and I can’t say I don’t share it — only I might frame as “Why Don Mattingly and no one else?”

The answer is that Mattingly would theoretically carry forward the success that Joe Torre has had, but should we really feel so certain that Mattingly, for better or worse, is Torre II?

Writes Dilbeck:

… Mattingly has never managed. Wallach, who led Albuquerque to the playoffs last season and was named the Pacific Coast League manager of the year, will return to the helm of the Isotopes this season.

Does any of this sound familiar? Echoes of Mike Scioscia, perhaps?

When Tommy Lasorda finally stepped down, the Dodgers named coach Bill Russell to succeed him in 1997. Scioscia was a bench coach. When Russell was ousted in the middle of the ’98 season, Glenn Hoffman was named manager. When Hoffman was fired at the end of the season, Davey Johnson took over.

Scioscia, who in 1999 managed at Albuquerque, was passed over one time too many, resigned and then went onto become one of baseball’s finest managers for the Angels. …

… Wallach also said he sees no problem with Mattingly’s inexperience as a manager.

“He’s a baseball guy,” Wallach said. “He’s been Torre’s bench coach. I mean, I can’t even imagine how much he’s learned being with Joe all these years. If that’s how it works, I got … he’s a baseball guy. I think he’ll be fantastic.

“I’m getting experience to someday hopefully manage (in the majors). I would love it to be here, but if it’s not here, I appreciate the opportunity. I love the Dodgers. I always come back to the Dodgers. But they’re giving me an opportunity and I’m very happy with the opportunity.”

* * *

Heralded Cuban import Aroldis Chapman is scheduled to pitch for the Reds against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch on Friday.

Update: Brian Giles has retired. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.

Mar 09

DeWitt to be named starting 2B next week?

The Dodgers plan to name their starting second baseman when the team reunites after the Taiwan trip, manager Joe Torre told reporters today — and Blake DeWitt is closer to winning the job.

Rockies at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Today’s Lineup
Rafael Furcal, SS
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Manny Ramirez, DH
Ronnie Belliard, 3B
Blake DeWitt, 2B
Xavier Paul, LF
Brad Ausmus, C
(Hiroki Kuroda, P)

“Blake’s doing a good job,” Torre said. “I haven’t seen enough defensively, offensively I see what you see. He’s special, he played winter ball, he’s done so much in a short time here. He’s a big league player.”

While in Taiwan, Torre will stay in communication with top lieutenant Don Mattingly and the other Dodger coaches for reports on what’s happening Stateside.

Other notes:

  • Casey Blake is expected to return to action Wednesday.
  • The starting pitchers on the Taiwan trip will be Eric Stults, Josh Towers and Charlie Haeger.
  • Torre plans for relievers Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo to get “eight or nine innings” of game work before the season.
  • Torre on James Loney: “He needs to be more familiar with what he can do offensively. He pretty much reinvented himself in the second half last year and it paid off. Eventually I think he can hit 20 home runs.”
  • While Loney is in Taiwan, Garret Anderson will play some first base in Arizona.
Mar 07

MRI on Russell Martin encouraging, he says

Following up on a few items from last night …

Dodgers at Cubs,
12:05 p.m.

Today’s Lineup
Xavier Paul, LF
Jamey Carroll, SS
Blake DeWitt, 2B
Reed Johnson, CF
Brian Giles, DH
Nick Green, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Russ Mitchell, 1B
Jason Repko, RF
(Clayton Kershaw, P)

Russell Martin says his MRI showed only a strain, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Let’s hope he does not try to conceal anything more.

Martin told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com: “They said I have a little strain somewhere, either the lower abdomen or the groin area in the muscles that connect the hip, abdomen and groin.”

Update: This Gurnick paragraph doesn’t sound quite as good.

Martin’s discomfort is in the same general area that plagued former Dodgers infielder Tony Abreu, who first underwent a sports hernia operation, but ultimately needed arthroscopic surgery to repair torn hip labrum.

* * *

Dodger Thoughts commenter Bumsrap pointed out overnight that on days the Dodgers start Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, James Loney and Blake DeWitt, it would be hard for opponents to stack righty relievers against the Dodgers, even if the team has no lefty pinch-hitters.

Still, the Dodgers are looking for ways to save room for a lefty. Weather permitting, Jamey Carroll is getting a start at shortstop today (while Nick Green plays third), so the Dodgers are at least entertaining the option of having Carroll be the backup shortstop in April.

Brian Giles gets his first start of the year, but won’t play in the field.

* * *

  • Russ Mitchell, who made a fine catch in foul territory Saturday on behalf of Eric Gagne, gets the start at first.
  • Jason Repko is batting ninth on a day that features at most one regular Dodger starter.
  • Tony Jackson noticed Garret Anderson in a long conversation with Russ Ortiz and tweeted, “I wonder if the words ‘we couldn’t believe Dusty took you out’ have been spoken.”
  • Baseball players from four elementary schools in Taiwan will sing the national anthem before the Dodgers’ first two games there later this week, according to FocusTaiwan.

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It got busy over here overnight, so here are the in-case-you-missed-’ems: