Nov 11

This one goes to 11-11-11


Getty ImagesManny Mota Mota Mota …

There has still been no contact from the kidnappers of Washington catcher Wilson Ramos, more than a day since he was abducted. But Venezuelan authorities have said they are confident they will find him.

I can’t tell that this story is getting the coverage it deserves, although it is mostly just a painful waiting game. I’m thinking my best thoughts.

* * *

Catching up on some Dodger ownership news and notes:

  • Orel Hershiser tells the skeptics his group will have the dough, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Shelburne writes that the new owners, whoever they are, need to look toward the future to be successful, not the past.
  • Patrick Soon-Shiong, who bought Magic Johnson’s minority stake in the Lakers last year and reportedly the richest man in Los Angeles, has been approached by at least one Dodger ownership group, reports Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • One ownership candidate who has the money is former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano, write Craig Karmin and Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal. However, the Journal says “he has never attended a game at Dodger Stadium and is a lifelong New York Yankees fan.” That’ll go over well.
  • Jill Painter of the Daily News has a solid interview with Peter O’Malley. “First, I’m blessed with good health,” O’Malley said. “Second, the challenge. Thirdly, I do believe I can do it better than anybody else. Maybe that doesn’t sound right, but I don’t know how else to say it.
  • Dodger sale news combined with a reduction in prices has boosted Dodger season-ticket sales 30% compared to this time last year, writes Bill Shaikin of the Times. Season-ticket sales dropped from 27,000 four years ago to 17,000 this past season.

* * *

Elsewhere …

  • Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness writes about the early signs that 2012 free-agent contracts will be insane.
  • Related … Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports writes that the Phillies’ four-year, $44 million offer to reliever Ryan Madson might be so high that it has Major League Baseball concerned and might be slowing locking down the next collective bargaining agreement.
  • Might Rod Barajas’ ability to frame pitches be a reason he deserved a $4 million deal from the Pirates? Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk thinks it’s possible.
  • Former Dodger executive Derrick Hall of the Diamondbacks had successful surgery to remove his prostate in response to cancer.
  • Former Dodger outfielder Mike Marshall has been named manager of the independent San Rafael Pacifics, notes Dave Allen of the Marin Independent Journal, and his wife Mary will be assistant general manager. The Marshalls had the same roles with Chico.
  • Jim Breen of Fangraphs says that hard salary slotting for MLB draft picks would be bad for the game, and uses the Dodgers’ Zach Lee as a reason why.
  • Shawn Green, Brad Ausmus and Gabe Kapler have joined forces to try to guide Israel into qualification for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. “While it remains unclear if the recently retired players will take the field themselves, their involvement provides an immediate boost to Israeli baseball, which remains a niche sport in a country where soccer and basketball reign supreme,” writes The Associated Press.
  • Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay tied for the SB Nation National League Cy Young vote. Kershaw got 14 first-place votes to Halladay’s 13, but Kershaw also received a fifth-place vote from Padres blog Gaslamp Ball, which provides an unimpressive explanation to say the least.
  • No Dodger connection here, just wanted to pass this along – Norwegian film “King Curling” is “a hilarious take on the mock-heroic sporting-underdog genre,” writes Leslie Felperin of Variety.
Nov 18

De Jesus working his way back into relevance

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has taken a journey down into the Dodger farm system, returning with a couple of stories: a feature on Ivan De Jesus Jr., along with updates on seven other minor-leaguers. Here’s the opening to the DeJesus story:

One look at Ivan De Jesus Jr.’s numbers in the Arizona Fall League, which concludes Thursday, could yield the reasonable conclusion that the longtime Los Angeles Dodgers infield prospect is ready for the major leagues. One look at what he did in the Pacific Coast League this season could make you wonder why he didn’t receive a September call-up to a team that by September really didn’t have much to lose. …

In other news …

  • The desultory trade of James McDonald and Andrew Lambo has led the Dodgers to Double-A outfielder-infielder Anthony Jackson, namesake of ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dodger beat writer. The Dodgers have confirmed that Jackson has become the player to be named later coming from Colorado in September’s Octavio Dotel deal, Dotel having been acquired earlier this summer for McDonald and Lambo.

    Jackson is 26 years old and had a .676 OPS for Tulsa last season. The next time anyone wants to throw Dave Roberts-for-Henri Stanley in Paul DePodesta’s face, send ‘em this.

  • Retired catcher Brad Ausmus has taken his celebrated brain to the Padres, where he will be a special assistant in baseball operations.
  • Former Dodger reliever Cory Wade has signed a minor-league deal with Tampa Bay, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America, while Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. passes along the news that veteran Justin Miller has signed a minor-league deal with Seattle. We’ll always have April-September 2008, Cory.
  • Gary Wills has a nice piece on a man of admired/worshipped, Doonesbury’s Garry Trudeau, in the New York Review of Books (link via Bronx Banter).
  • Franklin Avenue’s fifth-annual Great Los Angeles Walk is set for Saturday, rain or shine. This year’s version marks a return to the event’s roots — traversing Wilshire Boulevard from downtown to its end in Santa Monica.
Oct 03

Farewell, 2010


Courtesy Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles DodgersBrad Ausmus

Farewells and me do not agree. They bring a lingering pain. I begin taking a long look back before I’ve even left.

I’ve been looking to the end of these grueling final weeks of the Dodger season as something of a relief, but this weekend reminded me of all the things I love about the game (minus the postseason triumph, of course). Today, when the Dodgers had the opportunity to send me off with a “Good riddance” affair, they pulled me back in, just as we were saying goodbye.

There was yet another fine pitching performance, this time from Ted Lilly. There was yet another blast from Matt Kemp, off a Rodrigo Lopez meatball, giving Kemp home runs in his final five games of the year and birthing the possibility of his redemption. There was a Dodger victory the way we hoped more of them would come. There was beautiful weather, a beautiful ballpark and beautiful family all around me.

There was Joe Torre’s farewell from uniform, perhaps forever, after the heartiest of careers. There was John Lindsey’s farewell from uniform, perhaps forever, after the briefest of careers.

Most of all the events on the field, what reached me was Brad Ausmus. I had been the sourpuss who disapproved of signing Ausmus each of the past two seasons, figuring that what he would be able to contribute wasn’t worth what he would pay. But today, watching his final moments on the field steeped the emotions already brewing within me. I felt privileged to be able to cheer him on, right up to his 1,579th career hit in his final at-bat.

And so when Hong-Chih Kuo got the season’s final out, and it was all over, I felt I had to just short of literally tear myself away from my favorite seat in all of the world.

These emotions will be hard for many to understand, coming at the end of a misbegotten season. They even surprised me some.  But there they were. We’ll all move forward, myself included, but I left something behind this year. I can’t explain it any better than that.

Though the commenting declined at Dodger Thoughts this season (and the main reasons for that aren’t lost on me), I still do appreciate any and all of you stopping by to say hi and share your thoughts. Of course, there will be plenty going on here in the offseason, but in any case, here’s to all the best for all of you going forward.

* * *

The Watch List

3) Kemp finished the year with a career-high 28 home runs to lead the team by five.

4) Kemp passed Loney at the finish, lapping up his 88th and 89th RBI to Loney’s 88.

6) Rafael Furcal used up his one free at-bat, finishing the year with a batting average at .3002.

7) There was one drive off Ted Lilly that looked like it might have some distance, but in the end he gave up no home runs while walking two, and finishes his Dodger season with 13 walks and 12 homers allowed.

8) Jamey Carroll got four plate appearances, but he kept his 2010 homer ledger clean.

Two more notes: Kuo finished with the lowest ERA in Dodger history for a pitcher with at least 50 innings in a season. His 1.200 mark just barely bested Eric Gagne’s 1.202 from 2003. Also, Kenley Jansen’s 0.67 ERA is the fourth-lowest in major-league history for a rookie with at least 25 innings.

Sep 16

The Big Blue Wrecked Crew: 2010-11 Dodger offseason primer


Kirby Lee/US PresswireRussell Martin: Just one of the many questions the Dodgers face this winter.

The Dodger roster heading into the 2010-11 offseason, and I don’t say this lightly, is a mess.

It’s not a hopeless mess. But it is a mess, and it’s going to take some skill from the crew in charge to clean up. It’s a goop of oil and water, an unsightly combination of having to fill holes while also figuring out which rising salaries to jettison and which to risk holding onto.

Oh, and when the 2010 season ends, the No. 5 starter on the 40-man roster, at least by major-league experience, will be someone who hasn’t pitched in a professional game in four months: Scott Elbert.

The Dodgers have one absolute jewel on the team: Clayton Kershaw. The team’s top player won’t be arbitration eligible for one more year and only figures to earn approximately $500,000 in 2011.

Then, there are a few players whose higher salaries the Dodgers won’t mind paying. Chad Billingsley, who will command somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 million, knocked down many of the questions others had about him with a resurgent 2010 season. Hong-Chih Kuo will draw low seven figures, and after the way he has persevered and performed, no one should begrudge him. Kenley Jansen will make people swoon, and only receive the major-league minimum pay and meal money in return.

So much for the good news. Now, the concerns:

  • Rafael Furcal surely remains talented, but the Dodgers have $12 million going to a player who has averaged fewer than 100 games per year since 2008.
  • Slumping reliever Jonathan Broxton’s final season before free agency is tagged with a $7 million salary.
  • Coming off an injury that ended his second straight disappointing year, arbitration-eligible Russell Martin would also get as much as $7 million if the Dodgers don’t non-tender him.
  • Andre Ethier looked like an MVP at the start of the year; by the end, his $9.25 million 2011 salary for an outfielder who struggles against lefties didn’t seem like quite as much of a bargain.
  • Lightning Rod Award-winning outfielder Matt Kemp has $6.95 million coming next year.
  • Casey Blake, game but aging, gets $5.25 million in the final chapter of his three-year deal.
  • By now, James Loney should have developed enough that the $4.5 million he is projected to earn next year should have seemed closer to a bargain than a burden, but his second-half disappearance hasn’t helped matters.
  • Incumbent second baseman Ryan Theriot and his sub-.700 OPS will bring home about $3.5 million if the Dodgers hang onto him.

In sum, that’s about $55 million committed to a series of question marks, some small, some large. In addition, Los Angeles owes approximately $17 million of its 2011 budget to (swallow hard) Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones and Jason Schmidt — the price for turning past mistakes into the playoff teams of the previous two years.

Overall, the Dodgers on paper have close to $100 million – a figure that might well be at or above their budget limit – committed before they make a single offseason move.

Now, all is not lost. The Dodgers can and probably will gain roughly $12 million in breathing room if and when they bid farewell to George Sherrill, Octavio Dotel, Scott Podsednik and Brad Ausmus (who has said he will retire). Meanwhile, free agents Jay Gibbons and Rod Barajas should start to help shore up the bench for under $2 million combined. And it should be noted that not all of the above question marks will have negative answers.

Nevertheless, that still leaves the Dodgers at about $90 million in payroll, with John Ely as their No. 3 starter and serious questions about most of their offense. As shaky as their lineup now looks, and however aggressive the Dodgers might want to be with the latest crop of prospects, the Dodgers absolutely have to add at least two more starters, whether through free agency or trade, whether Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda or outsiders.

It’s for this reason that unless the team salary budget goes up, the Dodgers almost certainly will trade or non-tender a 2011 contract to at least one from the group of Broxton, Kemp, Ethier, Loney and Martin. Loney, because he has the lowest salary, might be most likely to stay – he’s finishing the year as a disappointment at first base, but he’s not finishing the year alone as a disappointment. In any case, all of them have something to offer other teams that might be, as hard as it is for some to digest, more willing to spend than the Dodgers are.

An Ethier trade would be a shock, for example, much more than a Kemp trade, but who can say it’s out of the question now?

However this plays out, the Dodgers may well bring back many of the same players next year who boosted them to National League Championship Series appearances in 2008-09 and sunk them in 2010. In one respect, nothing will have changed: You’re always hoping players move forward, like Kershaw and Billingsley, and not backward, like Kemp and Loney and Broxton and Martin and so on. Good does sometimes follow bad, after all. But still, it’s going to be a nervous offseason for a lot of us.

Sure, BP had it tougher. But as cleanup goes, this is as thick a goop as Chavez Ravine has seen in quite some time.

Aug 05

Why Russell Martin won’t be so easy to replace


Kirby Lee/US PresswireRussell Martin

You won’t have trouble finding people who think Russell Martin’s potential season-ending hip injury is no big deal. “He wasn’t hitting anyway, so who cares?”

Here’s why it’s a big deal, to both Martin and the Dodgers.

For all the decline Martin has had since his All-Star days not so long ago, the 27-year-old still brings a healthy on-base percentage to the table. This year, for example, Martin’s OBP is .347. He’s no Ted Williams, but that places him in the top 12 of major-league catchers with at least 150 plate appearances this year and fifth among catchers with at least 300 plate appearances. In other words, barely a handful of teams in the majors could match the Dodgers for catcher OBP.

With the Dodgers, Martin is sixth in OBP if you include semi-regulars Manny Ramirez and Jamey Carroll and the departed Blake DeWitt. Without that trio, Martin jumps up to third, behind Andre Ethier and Rafael Furcal - and of course, Furcal’s status today is at least a bit uncertain. On a team struggling to piece together runs, Martin helped keep an inning alive more than most. And he was always there, until now.

The tandem of Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis probably can’t match Martin’s on-base production. Ausmus’ .343 OBP in limited duty last season was his highest since 2005 in Houston. Ellis can do better than the .246 OBP he has had in his short major-league career – he has hung consistently over .400 in the minors – but it’s a leap to suggest that he can jump to one of the highest catcher OBPs in baseball.

If that’s a drop-off, the decline of power in Martin’s absence might be more of a dive. Yes, Martin’s power has disappeared, his slugging percentage falling from .469 in 2007 to .330 in 2009-10. But that’s still higher than the .311 slugging Ausmus has had since turning 34 seven years ago. Meanwhile, Ellis has had a sub-.400 slugging percentage with zero homers in 100 games at Albuquerque over the past two seasons – so forget about him showing any power in Los Angeles. Whatever you think of Martin’s power, these guys are worse.

Some might be prepared to give Ausmus and Ellis points for defense, and maybe they’re right. But Martin, who was ripped for his work behind the plate in 2009, showed something closer to his Gold Glove form this year in my subjective opinion, including a much-improved throwing arm. He has thrown out a career-high 39 percent of runners trying to steal. The Dodgers are tied for 11th in baseball in fewest stolen bases allowed, with 10 of the 55 coming on Ellis’ watch in only 133 2/3 innings behind the plat (one every 13.3 innings) compared to 43 in 791 1/3 for Martin (one every 17 innings).

The chances of the Dodgers finding someone outside the organization to replace Martin this season are slim to none considering the available options – which, keep in mind, would come at a cost – and frankly, it’s not like it will get easy in the offseason.

All that being said, you really do have to wonder whether Martin will be back with the Dodgers in 2011. Despite what is perceived to be a poor 2010 season that has now been marred by health concerns, the arbitration-eligible Martin can expect a raise to about $6.5 million in salary for next year. (If that seems unfair to you, remember that he got paid $1,187,500 for 2006-08 combined.) Even a hale and hearty Dodger front office might balk at that figure for a catcher with Martin’s productivity concerns.

Now, the Dodgers might look at the options and negotiate a deal with Martin – the team rarely takes cases to arbitration, after all. But it’s very possible that Martin and the Dodgers will be going their separate ways to fend for themselves.

What a sad, unexpected ending that would be. Inside of two years ago, Martin was so important to the Dodgers in my mind that he was the only active player to get a separate chapter in my book – a great catcher, and a great Dodger. Even though he hasn’t been the same the past two years, this might be the end of an era, and it shouldn’t pass without notice.

Jul 25

Kershaw LXXII: Kershawmpty Dumpty

Brad Ausmus will retire at the end of this season, the Dodger catcher told Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

… In Ausmus’ typically understated way, his so-called “announcement” was nothing more than an answer to a reporter’s question. It came immediately after he played in his first game in more than three months, catching the first 12 innings of the 13-inning marathon four days after being activated from the 60-day disabled list.

“This year is it,” Ausmus said.

Ausmus had played in just one previous game this season, on April 8 at Pittsburgh. He went onto the 15-day DL with back soreness two days later and learned shortly thereafter that he would need a surgical procedure that would sideline him for at least three months, leading to questions of why the seldom-used, 41-year-old backup to Russell Martin didn’t just retire immediately instead of going through a grueling rehabilitation process in what everyone assumed would be his final season as a player anyway.

Ausmus’ answer then was the same as it is now.

“I signed a contract,” he reiterated on Saturday. “It was my job to get back on the field and do it as quickly as possible, hopefully without having any setbacks.”

* * *

If Jonathan Broxton had blown the game against the Mets, people would have called it another huge loss on the national stage. But since he overcame early control problems to pitch two shutout innings – striking out the Mets’ best hitter, David Wright, to end the ninth before throwing a perfect 10th – the game became inconsequential (c.f. Saturday, June 26, 2010).

* * *

From the Dodger press notes: “Six Dodger starters have combined to post a 1.38 ERA (8 ER/52.0 IP) and limit opposing hitters to a .211 average (40-for-190). In that span, Dodger starters have 36 strikeouts and only 14 walks. Overall, Dodger starters lead the big leagues with an average of 7.79 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (487 SO/563.0 IP) and rank third in the National League with a .256 opponents’ batting average.”

Jul 20

Manny Ramirez hits the DL trifecta


Dilip Vishwanat/Getty ImagesManny Ramirez looks on from the dugout at St. Louis on Sunday.

The news has finally come back on Manny Ramirez, and it’s not good.

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced Tuesday that they have placed Manny Ramirez on the disabled list for the third time this season, and have activated Brad Ausmus from the 60-day disabled list to take his roster spot.

Ramirez suffered a right calf strain Friday in the first inning of his second game since being activated from the DL following a right hamstring injury.

A right calf malady also sidelined Ramirez from April 23 through May 7.

Ramirez has a .409 on-base percentage and .516 slugging percentage for the Dodgers this season, but has been held to 220 plate appearances — four in July.

Xavier Paul, Garret Anderson and utilityman Jamey Carroll are rotating in left field for the Dodgers in Ramirez’s absence. Paul is in the starting lineup for Tuesday night’s game against Tim Lincecum and San Francisco.

The activation of Ausmus, who had four plate appearances in 2010 before going on the disabled list with back trouble, gives the Dodgers three catchers on the roster for the time being, along with Russell Martin and A.J. Ellis. But with Reed Johnson already on the DL, Los Angeles had only one other outfield option on the 40-man roster: Double-A outfielder Trayvon Robinson. Martin has also been nursing a thumb injury, though he returned Monday and had three hits against the Giants.

Update: Joe Torre told the media today that Ramirez’s strain was significant, and that he is expected to remain sidelined for three weeks.

Torre also said that the Dodgers will return to having two catchers as soon as Wednesday. Robinson is not a possibility for a callup, but the team is considering purchasing the contract of Jay Gibbons, who has a .915 OPS for Albuquerque.

Ramirez was placed on the disabled list retroactive to July 17, which would mean he could come off the disabled list August 1 at the earliest. However, because Ramirez would certainly clear waivers because of the size of his contract, the Dodgers could still trade him after the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

Jul 08

Kershaw LXIX: Kershallow Grave

Joe Torre told reporters today …

  • He had no news on Ronald Belisario.
  • Manny Ramirez is scheduled for a rehab game with Inland Empire on Saturday and remains on target for a July 15 return to the Dodgers.
  • AA reliever Kenley Jansen has entered the Dodgers’ major-league conversation, and it won’t be a surprise to see him in Los Angeles this year, though perhaps not until rosters expand in September.

In other news …

  • Scott Elbert is back in Arizona, “playing catch,” according to Dodger coach Ken Howell. No date set for his return to action.
  • Brad Ausmus began his minor-league rehab assignment Wednesday with Inland Empire. Expect to see his back back in a Dodger uniform by August.
  • Roy Oswalt bumped up the trade-valueometer today with a one-hitter against Pittsburgh. Oswalt, who walked two and struck out eight, needs to get one victory to tie Joe Niekro and two to pass him for Houston’s all-time lead in pitching victories.
  • Former Angel (and perhaps surprisingly, not current Dodger) Darin Erstad has returned to his Nebraska alma mater, as a hitting coach, according to The Associated Press.
  • The notion of taking a flyer on injured former star pitchers with upside has taken a beating this year, writes Dave Cameron at Fangraphs.
  • Matt Stairs on Wednesday tied the all-time record for pinch-hit home runs, writes Greg Rosenstein of MLB.com (via Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Talk). Not counting the postseason, in case you were wondering.
  • Yes, Mike Stanton’s killer three-run homer Thursday really was caught by a Dodger glove, as David Brown of Big League Stew points out. And yes, you need to watch Garret Anderson’s reaction on the clip linked from there.
  • My favorite piece of trivia today: The all-time leader in Emmy nominations is now camera operator Hector Ramirez. I talked to Ramirez this morning for the Variety On the Air TV blog.
  • I hated Shallow Grave, by the way …
Apr 14

Brad Ausmus to have back surgery

Brad Ausmus’ 41st birthday today comes with some bad news. The Dodgers have announced that Ausmus will have surgery Thursday to address a herniated disc, keeping him on the disabled list until at least “late this summer,” the team said. Ausmus is expected to retire after this season.

* * *

Regrettably, a couple of corrections to my Tuesday work: Blake DeWitt only has eight walks this season, not 11, and the outfield trio of Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have homered in the same game as starters thrice, not twice.

Apr 10

A.J. Ellis replaces injured Brad Ausmus on roster


Keith Srakocic/AP
Brad Ausmus

Russell Martin’s unexpectedly quick recovery from Spring Training injury kept the Dodgers from having a catching tandem tonight of A.J. Ellis and Lucas May or J.D. Closser.

Ellis, who turned 29 Friday, has been recalled from Albuquerque to join the 25-man roster in place of Brad Ausmus, who has gone on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a pinched nerve in his back. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details:

… Ausmus said that while the injury originates in his back, it presents itself in the form of numbness all the way down his left leg, from his hip to his foot. The injury isn’t related to a chronic lower-back problem Ausmus has experienced sporadically during his career, an issue that flared up again during spring training and caused him to be shut down for a week.

“The other day, when I was catching in Pittsburgh, about the eighth inning my hip started giving me some problems,” he said. “I was hoping it was just a case of not having caught that much after missing a week of spring training. But over the next 18 hours, during any prolonged sitting or lying down, I would get a shooting pain down my left leg.”

Ausmus said he had trouble sitting on the team bus to the airport after Thursday’s game and on the charter flight to Fort Lauderdale, then had trouble sleeping that night. He woke up Friday morning feeling what he described as “pins and needles” in his foot.

The decision to place Ausmus on the DL actually was made before Friday night’s game, but it was kept quiet so the Florida Marlins wouldn’t know that Russell Martin was the Dodgers’ only catcher. Ellis was scratched from Albuquerque’s game at Oklahoma City during batting practice, but he wasn’t able to get a flight until the following morning.

Ausmus, who will turn 41 on Wednesday, said he was disappointed that he didn’t finish his career without a DL stint, but that he understood why it had to happen now.

“I’m pretty much at, or really close to, the end of my career, although who knows when it’s going to end?” he said. “I was hoping to avoid it my entire career, but this time, there wasn’t much chance of that. [Trainer] Stan [Conte] and [manager] Joe [Torre] knew there was too much risk involved in putting me into a game and that they would have to have somebody else here. The only way to do that was to put me on the DL.’” …

Joe Torre told reporters this afternoon that Ellis would start Sunday’s day game – the fourth start of his career and the second that has ever come before the month of September. Ellis will be catching knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, whom he caught in Albuquerque about nine times last season (if my quick scan of the minor-league game logs of Fangraphs is correct.)

Torre also said that Andre Ethier (a ripe old 28 years old today) won’t start this weekend but might come off the bench, and that he is a possibility for the starting lineup at Tuesday’s home opener. Manny Ramirez also will be held out of the starting lineup Sunday.

* * *

  • Josh Lindblom gets his first start for Albuquerque at 5:05 p.m.
  • Tim Wallach’s son Brett threw five no-hit innings Friday in his first start for Great Lakes, while 2009 first-round pick Aaron Miller struck out 10 in his five innings for Inland Empire.
  • Blue Heaven posted some fun Dodger-related videos from this year and yesteryear.
  • Pedro!
Mar 21

Vin, we accept your apology …

“Hi everybody, and a very pleasant Sunday to you, wherever you may be. Hope you don’t mind if I take a moment out: First of all, I am sorry to have caused the accident that caused so much stress. I’m very sorry for that. I’d also like to salute the gentle heroes of 911 in Calabasas, and the doctors and nurses at West Hills Hospital, for taken care of me so very, very well. However, now that I’ve done that, let’s get to the more important thing, and that is the game. The Dodgers and the Indians. Jake Westbrook will be on the mound for Cleveland. Left-hander Eric Stults will be on the mound for the Dodgers. And Lord, I am happy to be here. We’ll be with the ballgame, right after this.”

Yep, Vin Scully is back. Before today’s broadcast, he talked to reporters briefly about his eventful week, and Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.

“All of a sudden, I felt one of those big, bronchial coughs coming up, and I thought I could get to the bathroom,” Scully said. “So I jumped out of bed — bad idea — I got dizzy, and then, trying to keep the cough in until I got to the bathroom, I did something to myself. I’ll explain: I went from the bedroom toward the bathroom, and there was a marble floor, and all of a sudden, I blacked out.“I woke up sitting in the floor, my wife calling 911 and blood on the floor.”

Scully had hit his head on the floor, as well as bruising his arm and slightly injuring his back. When he arrived at the hospital, he received staples in the back of his head.

“Instead of stitches, they put in five staples with a thing like a staple gun,” he said. “I will never go by that office supply store without thinking of what happened. … I won’t mess around with a marble floor ever again. But I never thought I was in any [life-threatening] trouble at all.”

Scully was in the broadcast booth for Sunday’s Cactus League game with Cleveland, the first game he has called this spring. He said he was under no restrictions following the accident.

“I’m supposed to cut back on dangling participles, and I’m not allowed to split any infinitives for at least another week,” he said.

Talk about your health scares, though: former Dodger player and current minor-league instructor Lenny Harris had emergency quadruple bypass surgery. “Harris was stricken with chest and arm pains Friday, but did not suffer a heart attack as there was no heart damage,” reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “In a Saturday operation, doctors found blockages in four arteries, with one 95 percent blocked.”

* * *

  • Ronald Belsiario’s visa paperwork is completed, according to an anonymous source of Jackson’s, meaning that the Dodgers could see him as soon as Monday or Tuesday.
  • Though Russell Martin is improving, taking live batting practice Sunday, he is still not expected to be in the lineup Opening Day because of the probable need of a rehab assignment. In contrast, Brad Ausmus had a flareup of chronic back pain, but is expected to be on the Opening Day roster.  No. 4 catcher Lucas May was optioned to Albuquerque, at least for the time being.