Sep 11

Vicente Padilla’s season might be over

Vicente Padilla has perhaps already made his final start as a Dodger. He was scratched today from his Sunday start with a recurrence of the bulging disc in his neck, and Joe Torre told reporters that he didn’t expect Padilla to return soon – and the season doesn’t have much more than soon left.

Padilla has pitched 95 innings for the Dodgers this year, 54 2/3 of them in an eight-start stretch in which he had a 1.32 ERA. The rest of his 2010 Dodger season has consisted of 40 1/3 innings with 35 earned runs allowed (7.81 ERA).

More from Tony Jackson of

Sep 11

A Happier 9/11

It has been seven years since this piece was first published: September 11, 2003. A lot has happened since then – including a very happy September 18, 2006. But this game will always remain special, and I hope you don’t mind me continuing to remember it on this date.

* * *

Twenty years ago today, Dodger Stadium hosted its greatest game.

It began swathed in bright blue skies and triple-digit temperatures. When it ended, 228 crazy brilliant minutes later, shadows palmed most of the playing field, and every Dodger fan who witnessed the spectacle found themselves near joyous collapse.

The game was between the Dodgers of Steve Sax and Pedro Guerrero, of Greg Brock and Mike Marshall … and the Braves of Dale Murphy, of Bruce Benedict, of Brad Komminsk.

In the end, however, it came down to one man. A rookie named R.J. Reynolds.

Continue reading

Sep 10

Remember the time … Dodgers 4, Astros 2

It was the most meaningless victory to date of the 2010 season, but it was nice, like running into an old friend from high school after some dark times.

Though they once again wasted a strong start by Hiroki Kuroda (six innings, six baserunners, one run), the Dodgers got some strong late-inning relief pitching from Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and Octavio Dotel, stretching tonight’s game long enough for Jay Gibbons to hit a two-run homer in the top of the 11th inning for a 4-2 victory.

Gibbons’ defense in left field almost thwarted his own heroics – he caught only one of the three balls hit to him during extra innings – but Dotel pitched around the extra baserunners for a two-inning victory.

Gibbons, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning, hit his fourth homer in his 39th plate appearance as a Dodger, tying him with Rod Barajas (45 plate appearances after going 3 for 4 tonight) for eight place on the Dodgers’ 2010 roster. Both Gibbons and Barajas are making strong cases for the Marlon Anderson/Ronnie Belliard Award, and all the good and bad that implies.

Sep 10

‘Time isn’t holding us …’

Does this generation have a Talking Heads? Hard for me to imagine that it does.

Anyway, it’s been nearly a lifetime since the Dodgers’ last victory, but they’ll give it a go.

* * *

Former Dodger Tim Leary has been named the pitching coach for Cal State Northridge, writes Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News.

Sep 09

Pagliacci’s team

The analogy doesn’t quite work, but the above was the best I could come up with for the latest result. Los Angeles got a rare first-inning lead on Andre Ethier’s two-run homer, but gave it up for good on a three-run homer by Houston third baseman Chris Johnson in the sixth inning. The Dodgers lost their sixth straight game and fell to 69-72.

Only four Dodger teams have finished below .500 since 1988. According to my research on, no Dodger team has ever entered September with a winning record and finished the season with a losing record.

Sep 09

Flexible lineup in Houston

Still true:

No matter how rough things might get this year for the Dodgers, no matter how many disappointing twists and turns there might be this season, expected or unexpected, I don’t think I’ll be as unhappy as I was today when, after battling ants at the kitchen sink, on the kitchen counter, near the kitchen table, near the doors to the yard, in the kids’ bathroom and in the guest bathroom for every free minute I had, I sat down exhausted on the living room couch, a place of sanctuary, and found, on either side of me, more ants.

Sep 09

Dodgers’ 2010 season: One step forward, five steps back

Scott Wachter/Icon SMIRonald Belisario: 2.04 ERA in 2009, 5.32 ERA in 2010.

It wasn’t even a headline. It was just a little item in Tony Jackson’s Dodger notebook from the earliest days of Spring Training, appearing below the day’s top news: “Blake shaves signature beard.”

Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario will be late to spring training for the second season in a row because of visa problems in his native Venezuela …

There was no indication of how late Belisario would be, or much reason to think it would affect his 2010 season. And it was but one pitcher in a deep Dodger bullpen, one of the best in baseball the previous year.

The Dodgers had other things to worry about. Who would be their fifth starter? What condition would Manny Ramirez be in? Would Russell Martin and Chad Billingsley come back from disappointment? How would the ownership strife affect the team? So Belisario’s going to be a little late. So what?

But as it turned out, Belisario’s visa problem, which was never completely explained, was a pinprick in the Dodger life-raft. The other concerns didn’t completely go away, but strangely, it was with Belisario’s absence that the air slowly began leaking out of the 2010 Dodger season.

Without Belisario, the Dodgers weren’t as prepared for George Sherrill to misplace his mechanics or for Hong-Chih Kuo to begin the season with soreness in his left elbow. It put an extra strain on second-year reliever Ramon Troncoso, and compelled the Dodgers to keep both Russ and Ramon Ortiz on their Opening Day roster. Four times in the team’s first eight games, Dodger relievers ended up with an L next to their names in the box score. In a year that begin with promise but also uncertainty, the Dodger bullpen was supposed to be the anchor of the two-time defending National League West champions. Instead, it was the first sign of the unraveling.

And as it turned out, there was plenty to unravel. Among the many other fraying threads of a year gone awry were these:

Garret Anderson: Remember when Brian Giles and Doug Mientkiewicz were competing for the role of top left-handed pinch-hitter? Each came with health concerns, so come March, the Dodgers decided to take a look at Anderson, perhaps the most costly look since Lot’s wife checked her rear-view mirror. Anderson had the lowest adjusted OPS (29) of any Dodger with at least 150 plate appearances since Maury Wills in 1972 and second-lowest of any grown man in a Dodger uniform in 99 years.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
The Dodgers got about six productive weeks out of Vicente Padilla in 2010.

Sour start: Inviting speculation that he was implicitly criticizing the state of the team’s pitching, Joe Torre passed over Hiroki Kuroda to give the first pitch of the season to Vicente Padilla. The Dodgers subsequently began the season on a grim note, with Pittsburgh’s Garret Jones homering in his first two at-bats against Padilla en-route to an 11-5 pounding of the Dodgers. Pittsburgh began the season 2-0 over Los Angeles; the Pirates are 45-92 since.

Bullpen bottoms out early: Torre used Jonathan Broxton in the ninth inning of the Dodgers’ third and fourth games of the season, with leads of eight and six runs. In the fifth game of the season, Troncoso and Sherrill were asked to protect a two-run lead in the ninth, and failed. This, as it turned out, was not an aberration.

Death to flying things: Seemingly quelling fears about the back of the Dodger starting rotation, Charlie Haeger struck out 12 in six innings during his first start of the season. But one out before Haeger’s outing was over, Matt Kemp bobbled and dropped a fly ball, leading to an unearned run that cut the Dodgers’ lead to 5-4 and setting in motion a season Kemp is already trying to forget. Jeff Weaver gave up two more runs in the seventh inning, and the Dodgers came home from their first road trip of the season 2-4.

Manny needing medical: With a .500 on-base percentage and .619 slugging percentage, Ramirez heads to the disabled list for the first of three times in 2010 with a right calf strain. In the 13 games he had played to that point, the Dodgers had scored 93 runs.

Many needing medical: A day later, the struggling Padilla went on the DL. A week later, it was Rafael Furcal. Haeger, in something of a mercy killing, landed on injured reserve following his eight-strike, five-run start against Colorado. And then just after Ramirez returned, a broken pinky sidelined Andre Ethier and halted his MVP-caliber start to the season.

Lima’s time: It had no bearing on the Dodgers’ playoff hopes, but the passing of Jose Lima can’t go unremarked upon when talking about things gone wrong.

Elbert’s Elba: Scott Elbert, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect at the start of the year, gets called up, walks three in two-thirds of an inning, and isn’t heard from again.

Broxton’s season turns: With the Dodgers continuing to ache for reliable setup men, the All-Star closer’s season 180s with a 48-pitch nightmare against the Yankees.

Another Belisario mystery: Just when he had righted himself on the field, Belisario disappears to the restricted list for a month.

The end of Elymania: The shot in the arm provided by rookie John Ely ricochets on the Dodgers when he posts a 7.49 ERA in his final seven starts before being sent back to Albuquerque.

Fruitless acquisitions: The Dodgers trade Blake DeWitt, James McDonald, Lucas May, Elisaul Pimentel, Brett Wallach, Kyle Smit and Andrew Lambo for Ted Lilly, Octavio Dotel, Ryan Theriot and Scott Podsednik – and then go 14-15 in August and 1-6 to start September.

Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI
The Dodgers are more than a hair out of the playoff chase.

Absent offense: The team’s second-half OPS is .647. No Dodger with more than 50 plate appearances has an OPS over .750 since the All-Star break.

More injuries: Furcal and Martin succumb again in August, Martin for the season.

To shield themselves from these falling rocks, the Dodgers had the sustained excellence of Clayton Kershaw, Kuroda and Kuo, the comeback of Billingsley, the valuable off-the-bench contributions by Jamey Carroll, and occasional hot streaks by various other players from time to time, from Ramirez, Ethier, Furcal and even Kemp (in April) to Carlos Monasterios, Kenley Jansen, Ely, Padilla and Lilly. There was the nine-game winning streak in May. There was even a walkoff balk.

It wasn’t enough, not nearly. The Dodgers didn’t have the kind of protection they needed against so much pummeling. Too many expectations went unmet. In the starting lineup, you can’t find a single player who didn’t take a step back in performance and/or health.

Despite the McCourts, the Dodgers had a contender on paper. But that paper got shredded, much like Ronald Belisario’s visa application.

Sep 09

A certain kind of torture

That John Lindsey entered his first major-league game Wednesday but was removed for pinch-hitter Andre Ethier before he actually got to see his first major-league pitch generated the kind of national uproar on Twitter that I’m not sure has happened with the Dodgers since the Jonathan Broxton Yankee game.  (Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has examples.) ESPN’s broadcast of the game contributed to that, but still, it indicates how galvanized people have become by his story.

Lindsey handled his close-but-only-a-cigar moment – he ended up with the suitable-for-framing first lineup card bearing his name, writes Tony Jackson of – with a big smile, as if to say that the moment was anything but ironic. Ken Gurnick of has more:

“It was exciting,” said Lindsey, who finally made a regular-season box score by being announced as a pinch-hitter in Wednesday night’s 4-0 Dodgers loss to the Padres, only to be immediately lifted when the Padres made a pitching change. “I was waiting for this all my life and I was a lot cooler and calmer than I thought.”

Lindsey, called up Monday after 16 years in the Minor Leagues, was sent up to bat for Scott Podsednik and face left-hander Joe Thatcher with one out in the top of the eighth inning and runners on first and second. But as soon as Lindsey was announced, Padres manager Bud Black replaced Thatcher with right-hander Luke Gregerson.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre countered by sending up Andre Ethier to bat for Lindsey, and Ethier bounced Gregerson’s first pitch into an inning-ending double play.

“It was something I had to do,” Torre said. “It didn’t work.” …

As Bob Timmermann noted right as it happened, Lindsey became the first player to be announced as a pinch-hitter without actually batting in his major-league debut since Cody McKay of St. Louis in 2002. Billy Ashley was the last Dodger to have it happen, in 1992.

Whether it was really something Torre had to do in a contest that would determine whether the Dodgers would be nine or 11 games back in the National League West (answer: 11), in a game that Russ Mitchell started and Trent Oeltjen pinch-hit, was debatable. It certainly was a perfect moment to bring up Ethier (the Dodgers’ fifth consecutive pinch-hitter of the inning)  from a strategy standpoint, if you put aside Ethier’s inconsistent bat of late. And maybe it was even perversely poetic. Perversely.

* * *

Dodger starting pitcher Chad Billingsley looked extremely sharp at the outset Thursday, but his defense didn’t. Billingsley cruised through an 11-pitch first-inning despite a Rafael Furcal error and didn’t allow a hit until Luis Durango’s infield single in the third inning. Durango immediately stole second base – one of 30 consecutive stolen bases the Dodgers have allowed (not counting Clayton Kershaw pickoffs) since Russell Martin’s season-ending injury – and scored the game’s first run following an Adrian Gonzalez intentional walk on a Miguel Tejada single.

In the sixth inning, San Diego loaded the bases on two more infield singles and a sacrifice bunt/failed fielder’s choice. A single to left, an error and a sacrifice fly later, the Dodgers were down by the 4-0 margin that would become the game’s final score. Los Angeles finished the game with two singles, two walks and a double. Billingsley ended up with five walks.

* * *

  • The family of our good friend and Baseball Analysts founder Rich Lederer gets a nice feature story from Bob Keisser of the Press-Telegram. Rich’s father, George, who covered the Dodgers for years, is being inducted into the Long Beach Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame.
  • Josh Fisher writes a semi-personal piece about being at the McCourt trial for Dodger Divorce.
  • At Baseball Prospectus, Ken Funck writes about Ted Lilly and his future.
Sep 08

Russ Mitchell to make major-league debut at first base

In case you’re wondering why Russ Mitchell is getting to make his major-league debut ahead of John Lindsey, this video of Ned Colletti congratulating Lindsey on his call-up and telling him he would fly his Mississippi-based family to the Dodgers’ upcoming four-gamer in Houston offers a clue.

* * *

Former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley figures prominently in this Sports Illustrated feature by Lee Jenkins on the chaos in team ownership.

* * *

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. looks at just how poor the Dodger outfield has become. Interesting tidbit: Andre Ethier has been striking out more than Matt Kemp, which is saying something.

Sep 07

Swing and a miss: Dodgers strike out season-high 14 times in 2-1 loss

Denis Poroy/APClayton Kershaw reacts after falling behind, 2-0, on an RBI double by Adrian Gonzalez.

Even if no one else is, the Padres are still taking the Dodgers seriously. Two batters after ace starting pitcher Mat Latos struck out 10 in seven innings, San Diego brought in closer Heath Bell to get five outs against the National League West’s fourth-place team. Bell did the job, striking out four himself, sealing the Padres’ 2-1 victory Tuesday.

Andre Ethier all but epitomized the Dodgers’ night with a second-inning at-bat in which he swung at all seven pitches he saw, fouling six and whiffing on the seventh.

Clayton Kershaw (seven innings, six baserunners, six strikeouts) gave up single runs in the second and third innings, and the Dodgers couldn’t come back despite placing the tying run in scoring position in the sixth and eighth innings. Latos, three months older than Kershaw and taken in the 11th round of the same 2006 draft (10 picks after the Dodgers took Justin Fuller), lowered his league-leading ERA to 2.21.

The Dodgers fell below .500 for the first time since May 11. Since holding the best record in the NL with a 36-24 record on June 9, the Dodgers are 33-46, 26th in the majors.

Sep 07

Dodgers designate Ronnie Belliard for assignment

In 83 regular-season plate appearances for the Dodgers in 2009, Ronnie Belliard had five homers and a 1.034 OPS. In 183 plate appearances in 2010, Belliard had two homers and a .622 OPS, sinking to levels below what got him cast off by the Washington Nationals last summer.

Belliard’s chapter in Dodger history ended today with the team designated for assignment in order to purchase the contract of 27-year-old Australian outfielder Trent Oeltjen, who had a .979 OPS for Albuquerque. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles has details.

Belliard and Marlon Anderson — how their Dodger stories paralleled.

* * *

Dodger prospect Jerry Sands finished tied for third among all minor-leaguers in home runs this year with 35. As John Manuel of Baseball America notes, behind Sands was a familiar name: Joel Guzman.

The one-time Dodger phenom, now 25, hit 33 homers for the Orioles’ Double-A farm team in Bowie. That’s right — Double-A, the same level Guzman was at as a 20-year-old when he was considered arguably the Dodgers’ top position prospect.

Guzman had a career-high in walks with 45 this season, against 121 strikeouts — still not enough to assuage questions about his eye at the plate.

John Lindsey (.353) won the minor-league batting title in absentia, to go with the slugging percentage title.

Sep 07

The cup of coffee, if not the entire meal

If the happiest baseball player on the planet right now is John Lindsey, the happiest reporter might be Ramona Shelburne.

The ESPNLosAngeles columnist has been on the Lindsey beat for only a few weeks, but in a Dodger season that has become so dreary – a 4-2 loss Monday to San Diego finally dropping the team back at .500 at 69-69 – Lindsey represents one of the few things worth writing about right now – and even more so nearly the only happy thing.

Shelburne has yet another story about Lindsey’s callup – on the surface, this might start to seem like overkill, because the Dodgers went through something similar with Mitch Jones a year ago – but then you start reading and realize that this is one story we can hardly get enough of. It’s the anti-2010-dote. (In contrast, my condolences to Tony Jackson, who gets to cover everything else.)

It might be imprecise to call Lindsey’s story an entirely happy one, as uplifting as this chapter is. In the dimly lit hours early this morning, I thought about the years I spent trying to break into primetime television. I got an early cup of coffee, getting some lines in someone else’s script while I was a writers’ assistant for this show that none of you will remember, then spent years in TV’s minor leagues, drawing interest and coming agonizingly close to success but never quite making it. The fact is that if I had gotten that one script – but only one – it’s not like there wouldn’t be some disappointment. As hard as Lindsey has worked, there’s no way he’ll be entirely satisfied by a cup of coffee or two. Life is like Lay’s potato chips.

But in the moment, the next opportunity is all you can ask for. And Lindsey, who has been asking for such a long time, will finally get his. Right now, there aren’t many reasons to watch the Dodgers more compelling than seeing that opportunity come, and hopefully the Dodgers won’t draw out the wait much longer. I eagerly await the story on Lindsey’s first major-league at-bat.

Sep 06

The lower 48

Once they get into games, John Lindsey and Russ Mitchell will give the Dodgers 48 players this season. However, climbing the final steps of the mountain to match the Los Angeles record of 53, set in 1998Damon Hollins, anyone? – will be an Everestian challenge. Two pitchers on the 40-man roster, Brent Leach and Javy Guerra, could make it 50, and outfielder Trayvon Robinson 51, but with the 40-man roster full, it gets dicey after that.

Will the Dodgers be the cure for the what ails the Padres? Los Angeles isn’t the cure for starting pitcher Mat Latos, who was scratched from tonight’s game and replaced by Tim Stauffer. Not often you see the losing pitcher from the previous day’s game make a start. Stauffer threw 13 pitches Sunday and was charged with two runs. Stauffer is making only the fourth start by someone outside of the Padres’ regular 2010 starting rotation this year.

Sep 06

Since they aren’t needed elsewhere, three cheers for John Lindsey!

Let’s start with Sunday’s best story: John Lindsey is finally a major leaguer. From Ramona Shelburne of

Lindsey, 33, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A first baseman who has played more seasons in the minors without earning a call-up to the majors than any current player, was among five players the Dodgers promoted Sunday afternoon.

Lindsey will be joined by third baseman Russ Mitchell, who is also making his major league debut, infielder Chin Lung Hu, and pitchers Jon Link and John Ely.

For Lindsey, set to join the team Monday, it was the realization of a lifelong dream. He’s spent nearly half his adult life in the minor leagues, since the Colorado Rockies took him in the 13th round of the 1995 draft.

He’s had a career season in 2010, batting .354 with 25 home runs for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

“Oh man, the second [Isotopes manager Tim Wallach] told me my whole brain kind of shut down. I was hearing what he was saying, but I couldn’t even believe it,” Lindsey said.

“He went to shake my hand and I had to hug him because my legs were so weak.”

Lindsey said Wallach had initially tried to fool him by asking him to come into his office, then slamming the door.

“I think he was trying to mess with me, but [hitting coach] Johnny Moses was in the corner, trying to keep a straight face the whole time, but he couldn’t stop smiling,” Lindsey said.

“Wally told me it was the happiest day as a manager he’s ever had. I walked out of that office and hugged all my teammates, called my wife, and I haven’t stopped smiling or pacing around the clubhouse since.

“I probably won’t sleep the next three or four days.” …

Sometimes, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s that you get to play the game.

Says Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.: Lindsey, who is 33 years, 219 days old today, will be the oldest non-Japanese Dodger to make his MLB debut since Pete Wojey (34 years, 213 days) on July 2, 1954.

* * *

As for Sunday’s results – yes, the team looking to make a miracle comeback in the standings suffered a blow. Arizona fell to Houston, 3-2, missing a chance to close within 12 games of the fourth-place Dodgers, who lost to San Francisco, 3-0.

The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch non-last place is 12. Los Angeles has clinched the tiebreaker against Arizona by winning the season series, so even though six of the Dodgers’ final nine games are against the Diamondbacks, the odds remain in the Dodgers’ favor.

Oh, as for the other races? Can’t say the Dodgers are doing much there.

The Padres are the first team to stay in first place despite a 10-game losing streak since the 1932 Pittsburgh Pirates, and looking to be the first team to make the playoffs despite a 10-game losing streak since the 1982 Atlanta Braves, according to Stat of the Day. That was the year that the Dodgers took advantage of the Braves’ slump to regain the National League West lead, only to run into a most bitter ending. This year is looking bitter in a different way.

Greg Zakwin wraps up Sunday’s Ack-loss at Memories of Kevin Malone: “(Andre) Ethier, Jamey Carroll, and Matt Kemp struck out a combined eight times. Five baserunners. Thirteen strikeouts in total against just a single, solitary walk drawn. Just a single extra-base hit. No Dodger reached base more than once. Pitiful is a word that seems to perfectly describe the offensive side of things since the All-Star Break.”

Hiroki Kuroda made his sixth straight start of at least seven innings, with a 2.47 ERA and .179 opponents batting average in that time, according to the Dodger press notes. Ken Gurnick of notes that it was the sixth time this year that Kuroda has been on the wrong end of a shutout. As Tony Jackson of writes, opportunities to watch Kuroda in a Dodger uniform might be dwindling to a precious few.

* * *

  • Al Wolf of the Times (via Keith Thursby of the Daily Mirror) predicted in 1960 what the team’s 1962 Dodger Stadium opener would be like. His conclusion: “As broadcaster Vince Scully said in his dulcet tones: ‘Wotta show! Wotta show! Come on out tomorrow night, those of you who missed it. But if you can’t be with us, plunk down a dollar in your pay TV set and watch it that way. Or better yet, put in two bucks and see it all in living color.'”
  • Fred Claire, who acquired Tim Wallach for the Dodgers on Christmas Eve 1992, puts his support at for the Wallach for Manager campaign, though not with the Dodgers specifically. Claire, of course, was the Dodger general manager throughout Mike Scioscia’s post-playing Dodger career. His departure preceded Scioscia’s by about a year.
  • Four of the Dodgers in Sunday’s game – Carroll, Ryan Theriot, Ethier and Reed Johnson – finished with a .289 batting average.