Jul 29

Jansen heads to disabled list

Kenley Jansen has gone on the disabled list with a cardiac arrhythmia, and Josh Lindblom has come from Chattanooga to replace him, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Also, Carlos Monasterios has had Tommy John surgery and will be out for approximately one year.

Jul 27

Kenley Jansen has irregular heartbeat issue

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details of Dodger reliever Kenley Jansen’s sudden trip to the hospital.

Los Angeles Dodgers rookie reliever Kenley Jansen was transported to a local hospital for treatment of an irregular heartbeat shortly after recording his second save of the season Tuesday night against the Colorado Rockies. Although he was expected to remain at White Memorial Hospital through Wednesday night for observation, the situation didn’t appear to be serious.

Still, Jansen did have to undergo cardio conversion — the procedure of shocking the heart back into its normal rhythm — when medication didn’t immediately correct the problem.

“Anytime you have an irregular heartbeat, we take it pretty seriously,” Dodgers medical-services director Stan Conte said. “They were able to get his heart back into normal sinus rhythm. The next 24 hours will tell us what we want to do next.” …

Click the link above for the remainder of the story.

* * *

I’m not sure this will be Hiroki Kuroda’s last game in a Dodger uniform. My head tells me it should be; my heart hopes it isn’t.

Jun 18

A low down dirty shame

One thing I noticed about the sixth-inning-gone-wrong in the Dodgers’ 7-3 loss to Houston on Friday was how the hitters who did the most damage to Ted Lilly were diving for pitches.

Carlos Lee went down and away to loop a 200-foot single to drive in the run that broke a 1-1 tie. The first-pitch breaking ball was not in the strike zone. Then, with the bases loaded, Clint Barmes hit a 1-0 slider over the plate but down at his knees, slicing a two-run double just inside the right-field line about 250 feet down.

The topper came on a two out, 3-2 fastball to Jason Bourgeois – first seen here in my 2002 article on Single-A ball in Savannah, right around the time I started Dodger Thoughts – that was over the center of the plate, but all Bourgeois did with that was hit a grounder up the middle that Aaron Miles flagged, only to miss on the throw to second, allowing two runs to score.

In the meantime, Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com can tell you about the Dodgers’ lack-of-patience woes at the plate.

Not the Dodgers’ night, or their week, or their month, or their year.

* * *

Kenley Jansen, one of three injured Dodger relievers coming off the disabled list in the short term, returns to the active roster today. The trio of returnees will create some tough cuts in the Dodger bullpen, starting with Josh Lindblom, who is being sent to Double-A for the time being.

Note where Lindblom ranks on the following lists …

Opponents’ OPS in 2011 for recently active Dodger relievers
.624 Josh Lindblom
.629 Matt Guerrier
.637 Blake Hawksworth
.686 Scott Elbert
.749 Mike MacDougal
.777 Javy Guerra
.996 Ramon Troncoso

Opponents’ OPS in past 28 days for recently active Dodger relievers
.588 Blake Hawksworth
.624 Josh Lindblom
.686 Matt Guerrier
.840 Scott Elbert
.851 Mike MacDougal
.863 Ramon Troncoso
.868 Javy Guerra

Jun 01

Despite loss, kids continue to carry Dodger bullpen


Icon SMI/US PresswireRubby De La Rosa and Scott Elbert brought relief from the minors.

The kids have come to the rescue of the Dodger bullpen, and not nearly enough has been said about it.

Jonathan Broxton went on the disabled list May 6, followed within 10 days by Hong-Chih Kuo, Vicente Padilla and Blake Hawksworth. To replace them, the Dodgers brought up Kenley Jansen (who had temporarily gone down to Chattanooga), Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra and Ramon Troncoso.

Another week later, the Dodgers dispatched mop-up man Lance Cormier and replaced him with Rubby De La Rosa. Then in the past week, Jansen went on the disabled list and was replaced by Josh Lindblom, who made his major-league debut with an inning in the finale of the Colorado series Wednesday.

Of the replacements, Troncoso was the veteran with all of 177 1/3 career innings. The combined career experience of Jansen, Elbert, Guerra, De La Rosa and Lindblom was 39 2/3 innings. Their average age: 23 1/2. Think about it – more than half of the bullpen handed over to runts.

Here’s how they’ve done, including the 3-0 Dodger loss to Colorado, in which the bullpen followed Jon Garland’s six-inning, three-run start with shutout ball:

  • Jansen: 7 2/3 innings, 13 baserunners, four earned runs (4.69 ERA), 13 strikeouts, 0 of 5 inherited runners scored
  • Troncoso: six innings, six baserunners, no earned runs (0.00 ERA), two strikeouts, 2 of 5 inherited runners scored
  • Guerra: seven innings, nine baserunners, two earned runs (2.57 ERA), five strikeouts, 0 of 0 inherited runners scored
  • De La Rosa: five innings, four baserunners, one earned run (1.80 ERA), five strikeouts, 0 of 0 inherited runners scored
  • Elbert: 4 2/3 innings, six baserunners, no earned runs (0.00 ERA), seven strikeouts, 1 of 6 inherited runners scored
  • Lindblom: one inning, two baserunners, no earned runs (0.00 ERA), no strikeouts, 0 of 0 inherited runners scored

Total: 31 1/3 innings, 40 baserunners, seven earned runs, 32 strikeouts, 2.01 ERA, 3 of 16 inherited runners scored

That’s remarkable, especially considering we can assume that we can possibly attribute three of the seven runs allowed to the shoulder inflammation that sent Jansen to the disabled list.

The news that Padilla is expected to return to active duty Friday will, barring injury, start pushing the runts back to the minor leagues, but each has made the case to stay with the big club. Considered a weakness less than a month ago, the Dodger bullpen will in less than 48 hours have eight effective relievers to choose from, with more to come as Broxton, Kuo, Hawksworth and Jansen get back on their feet.

The other noteworthy thing is that with all the injuries, Dodger manager Don Mattingly has basically been forced to throw the idea of a designated closer out the window, instead bringing in pitchers simply based on the situation rather than their title or status. Unshackled from a pecking order, the Dodger kids haven’t suffered – they’ve thrived. Jansen, Guerra and De La Rosa have all finished close games, while Elbert and now even Lindblom have pitched in situations where giving up a single run could be a killer. De La Rosa, whose destiny remains starting pitcher, could be a circa-1992 Pedro Martinez-like smokejumper, giving you a couple innings at a time as long as there’s sufficient rest in between.

Message to Mattingly: Do yourself a favor. As the veterans return to the pen, don’t get caught up in who your closer is. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Manage according to the situation, not according to resume.

May 29

Whooosh – there it is: Kershaw, Dodgers blow out Marlins


Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesClayton Kershaw

So that’s what a breeze feels like.

Sailing into a storm most of the season, the Dodgers enjoyed a day with the wind entirely at their backs, with Clayton Kershaw in near no-hit form and the offense practically an arcade, leading to an 8-0 breeze over the Marlins.

The Dodgers took two of three from Florida for their first series victory since April 22-24 in Chicago. If you’re any kind of believer – and praise be onto you if you are – this is where it starts, all the ifs and buts transforming into actual results.

Whether they can extend this one-game winning streak, matching their longest since May 13 (yes, that’s right), is of course up in the air, but if in fact it’s a blip on the losing radar, it was a blip to be savored.

Kershaw’s marquee game in my mind remains his showdown victory over Ubaldo Jimenez of Colorado 12 1/2 months ago, but as Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness points out, today was Kershaw’s finest statistical outing ever – a Kershawnal Best, if you will – allowing two hits and one walk while striking out 10 in his second career shutout. The second hit off Kershaw was a ball that Jay Gibbons lost in a battle with the sun and an unusually ferocious wind, which would have been exceedingly painful for fans had Omar Infante not singled softly to left in the third inning.

In any case, Kershaw, who lowered his ERA to 2.62 and now leads the major leagues with 87 strikeouts, was in complete control.

“He was hitting both sides of the plate and throwing inside on lefties, which you don’t see that much from a lefty,” Florida’s Wes Helms told The Associated Press. “Kershaw just commanded all of his pitches today, and he had above-average stuff. He knows how to bury his curveball and his slider. He’s not going to leave it over the middle of the plate. I mean, you get geared up for that heater, and his slider’s hard enough that you can’t hold up when it’s in the dirt.”

It was a Hershiseresque day all around for Kershaw, who had as many hits at the plate as he allowed. The 23-year-old, who was 10 for 132 entering this season, is 6 for 25 in 2011. His two hits were only 13 percent of the Dodgers’ 15 off Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco, who was forced to stick it out for five innings after Florida blew out its bullpen Saturday. The total tied a Los Angeles record for the most off a single starting pitcher (Mario Soto of Cincinnati was the last victim, in 1982).

Gibbons, Andre Ethier and Rafael Furcal each had three, including Furcal’s first homer of the year, a two-run shot to the right-field bullpen that gave the Dodgers their initial lead after Kershaw led off the bottom of the third with a single. Ethier reached base in all five plate appearances, while Dioner Navarro went 2 for 4 to complete a 7-for-18 week.

Dodger life is good today, for the second time in three days.

* * *

  • Bob Timmermann has a great essay at L.A. Observed’s Native Intelligence about a simpler time, a simpler time when all we had to do was be mad at Tom Niedenfuer and Jack Clark.
  • Zach Lee gave up six runs in one-third of an inning of his return to active duty with Great Lakes today. He allowed three hits, two walks and two hit batters, writes Hugh Bernreuter of the Saginaw News, who also had a nice piece on Ramon Martinez earlier this week.
  • Josh Lindblom officially arrived today, with Kenley Jansen going on the 15-day disabled list and Travis Schlichting being designated for assignment. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details. That makes five top relievers on the Dodger disabled list: Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Vicente Padilla, Blake Hawksworth and Jansen.
  • Gary Carter’s diagnosis is grim, but no one is giving up, writes Ian Begley for ESPNNewYork.com.
  • Stadium Journey reviews the Chattanooga Lookouts ballpark.
May 06

Broxton goes to disabled list, Jansen to return

Following his MRI exam, Jonathan Broxton is headed for the disabled list, with Kenley Jansen making his trip to Chattanooga a mere layover on his way to New York to replace Broxton on the active roster.

There were different ways to interpret the news that an MRI revealed Jonathan Broxton had, according to the Times, a bone spur but no structural damage. On the one hand, the pain caused by the bone spur could account for Broxton’s awkward appearance Tuesday and even his rough-and-tumble 2011, but it wouldn’t seem to add much to a physical explanation of why he’s been so off his game since mid-2010 — unless it has been a recurring problem.

We’ll undoubtedly hear more on this as the day progresses.

Update: Broxton could be out for a month, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

… Broxton said he was told he would be shut down for two to three weeks to allow dissipation of fluid in the joint, then resume throwing. He said also had a pre-existing bone spur in the back of the elbow that showed up in a 2010 MRI, but that wasn’t the cause of his latest trouble. …

He was examined by team doctor Neal ElAttache, who told him the injury was probably the result of his joint opening and closing at high velocity “and the bones slam against each other. It takes a while to get the fluid in there.”

He said he was told he could take three or four days off and continue pitching, but the best course of action would be to shut down and let the bruise completely heal. Broxton said he didn’t think this injury was related to his second-half collapse last year.

“It probably started in the spring and caught up to me now,” he said. “The ligament is fine, there are no chips or anything. It’s just bruised.” …

Update 2: More from Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

* * *

After writing that Wilson Betemit should have let himself get hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, Kansas City Star sportswriter Lee Judge decided he should step up and see what it would be like. The video is pretty great.

May 01

Kuo activated, Jansen sent to Chattanooga


Harry How/Getty ImagesAaron Miles and the Dodgers will try to get back on their feet today

The first part of the headline is the most important: The Dodgers get Hong-Chih Kuo back after a minor-league rehab appearance Friday (his third) in which he allowed no runs or walks and struck out two. But the more curious aspect is the second part, in which the Dodgers optioned reliever Kenley Jansen to Triple-A rather than cut loose back-of-the-bullpen reliever Lance Cormier. (Update: The Dodgers later issued a correction saying that Jansen has gone down to Double-A Chattanooga.)

Jansen has had two certifiably terrible outings, one April 2, the other April 19. But in has past three games, covering 4 2/3 innings, Jansen has allowed no hits, walked two and struck out nine. That makes Jansen the Dodgers’ most effective reliever over the past week.

If this small sample size were all that Jansen had going for him, that’d be one thing, but the two bad outings in April are much more of an aberration in the Jansen oeuvre than what he’s done recently. Jansen’s career numbers remain strong: 2.90 ERA, 49 baserunners vs. 63 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings.

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that the Dodgers want Jansen to develop a secondary pitch, and that the Dodgers value Cormier’s role as a mop-up man, which is as damned with faint praise as you get. So what this boils down to is the Dodgers breaking more eggs in their bullpen, in the hopes that they’ll bake a better cake in the long term. It’s not the end of the world, but Jansen will be missed.

As long as Cormier’s sticking around, can I suggest again that the Dodgers use the right-handed Cormier more against left-handed batters, a group he continues to have the most success against?

* * *

Mar 03

Dodgers held to one run for third time in first week

Norm Hall/Getty ImagesHiroki and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcatch

Reds 3, Dodgers 1

Norm Hall/Getty ImagesBrandon Phillips stands on his head until his ears are turning Red.

Highlights:

  • Jerry Sands had two singles and an RBI, making him 3 for 7 in Spring Training. Let the (ir)rational exuberance begin!
  • Ivan De Jesus Jr. had a single and is also 3 for 7.
  • Rubby De La Rosa struck out three of the six batters he faced and picked off the only one who reached base, though none of the six were Reds regulars.
  • I learned the proper way to pronounce “Rubby,” and it doesn’t rhyme with “tubby.”

Lowlights:

  • After stranding three runners in his first two innings, starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was touched for three more hits and two runs in the third. “I didn’t have all my pitches tonight,” Kuroda told The Associated Press. “My breaking ball wasn’t there.”
  • The first four hitters in the Dodger lineup – Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Juan Uribe and Jay Gibbons – went 0 for 11 with a walk.
  • Batting as the tying run in the eighth and ninth innings, Justin Sellers and JD Closser each hit into double plays.
  • The Dodgers are averaging 3.1 runs per game, worst in the Cactus League.

Sidelights:

  • On a Thursday in early March, it doesn’t get much more exciting than this: Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes about how similar Kenley Jansen is to Mariano Rivera.
  • The Dodgers offered a minor-league contract to a player from their annual all-comers tryout: Randy Keisler, a 35-year-old lefty who last pitched in the majors in 2007. He has a 6.63 ERA in 150 2/3 career innings, and his only 2010 action was seven starts in the Mexican League with a 3.98 ERA.
  • De La Rosa and Luis Vasquez won the Dodgers’ “American Idol”-like singing contest, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Times.
  • Despite a career .341 on-base percentage in the majors, ex-Dodger Willy Aybar, who turns 28 next week, hasn’t even signed a minor-league contract this spring, notes MLB Trade Rumors.
  • Juan Castro did not hit a three-run homer.
Feb 24

Padilla has surgery, could resume work in three weeks … or more

Vicente Padilla had his surgery today. From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

… The surgery was performed in Los Angeles by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. Steve Shin, who conveyed the results to Dodgers trainer Stan Conte at Camelback Ranch.

“Stan said it went well,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “[Padilla] is supposed to be back in Arizona sometime [on Friday], and he’ll start the rehab process. What I got was that his best outlook is three or four weeks, then he’ll start tossing.”

Because this type of surgery is so rare among pitchers, there are no plans for how long the rehabilitation will last. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday, the day before the surgery, that he had been given reason to believe Padilla would return sometime during the season’s first half. …

* * *

  • Kenley Jansen’s spot on the roster seems even more secure to me after this tweet from ESPN the Magazine’s Molly Knight from Camelback: “Mattingly says Jansen will work 7th inning typically, 8th when Kuo is unavailable and could close if Broxton has gone three days in a row.”
  • My favorite tidbit from Ken Gurnick’s roundup of Dodger non-roster invitees at MLB.com is on Ramon Colon: “This is his 15th professional season and he had a great Spring Training last year to make the Royals Opening Day roster, but after a month he was released and wound up pitching in Korea. He signed with the Dodgers because they became his favorite team when they signed his older brother, Daniel, in 1989.”
  • More details on the pitching plan on Saturday from the Dodger press notes: “In Scottsdale, Dodger right-handed hurler Tim Redding will get the start and is scheduled to be followed by RHP Carlos Monasterios, RHP Oscar Villarreal, RHP Jon Huber and LHP Wilkin De La Rosa. Over in Tempe, RHP Hiroki Kuroda will make his first start of the spring and is scheduled to be followed by RHP Rubby De La Rosa, LHP Scott Elbert, RHP Lance Cormier, RHP Roman Colon and RHP Luis Vasquez.”
  • Also from the press notes: “A contingent of Dodger employees will take on a group of White Sox employees looking to avenge their loss in the 1959 World Series in a “friendly” softball game on Field 1. The skirmish will take place at 6 p.m. and admission is free.”
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven passes along this photo of Walter O’Malley in Cuba in 1959. Cutline: “Officials and players of the Reds and Dodgers received a warm welcome from Fidel Castro’s forces when they played two games at Havana, March 20-21. In front row, left is Gabe Paul, general manager of the Reds. In the second row, standing, are Bud Holman (with beret), a Dodger director, and Walter O’Malley (wearing deputy sheriff’s badge), Dodger prexy.”
  • Happy birthday, Nancy Bea Hefley …

* * *

Update: The Dodgers “plan to add one more Cactus League game to their schedule to be played sometime in late March in Tucson, Ariz., to benefit the Christina Taylor Green Memorial Fund,” according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Feb 18

Why Lance Cormier is a darkhorse roster candidate

Kim Klement/US PresswireIn the past three seasons, Lance Cormier has allowed a sub-.700 OPS against left-handed batters, including 26 extra-base hits in 486 plate appearances.

Outside of the left-field conundrum, the Dodgers’ biggest question mark for Spring Training might be how they will address the task of getting left-handed batters out with their almost completely right-handed bullpen. No one wants to see Hong-Chih Kuo relegated to facing only lefties, and the only other left-handed thrower on the 40-man roster is the uncertain Scott Elbert.

Three non-roster invitees to major-league camp are left-handed: 39-year-old Ron Mahay, achy-hamstringed Dana Eveland (whose career 5.74 ERA will apparently be sidelined for weeks after Thursday’s injury) and Wilkin De La Rosa, who has never pitched about Double-A. After that, you start dipping down into the minors for developing players like James Adkins.

With Ronald Belisario’s absence seemingly opening up a roster spot, Mahay would seem to be the default candidate. He had a .520 OPS allowed against lefties last season. But the previous two seasons, his OPS allowed against lefties was above .700 — which isn’t terrible, but isn’t exactly the kind of authoritative performance you’re looking for when you really want someone to come in and get that guy out.

I got to wondering if there were any righties among the Dodger relievers who were reliable against lefties. Here’s a chart of the bullpen candidates’ OPS allowed against lefties over the past three seasons in the majors:

2010 PA/ 2010 OPS   2009 PA/ 2009 OPS   2008 PA/ 2008 OPS
Belisario 86 .793   122 .720      
Broxton 123 .626   148 .414   126 .800
Colon 5 .650   94 .713      
Cormier 162 .718   180 .671   144 .667
Elbert 4 2.000   40 .699   14 1.000
Eveland 59 .802   60 .999   170 .646
Guerrier 102 .649   120 .525   126 .801
Hawksworth 185 .886   76 .724      
Jansen 51 .586            
Kuo 69 .271   40 .524   98 .557
Link 16 .962            
MacDougal 39 1.353   124 .760   24 .858
Mahay 68 .520   111 .743   110 .721
Monasterios 188 .709            
Padilla 166 .590   352 .837   385 .944
Redding       282 .860   402 .808
Schlichting 39 .465   9 .905      
Troncoso 99 .823   157 .751   84 .707
Villarreal             68 .862

Some observations:

  • The Dodgers have a few righties who seem consistently effective against their opposite numbers: Jonathan Broxton, Matt Guerrier and, based on a small sample size, Kenley Jansen.
  • Oh, and another guy who probably isn’t on your radar … late signee Lance Cormier.
  • Based on only his one season, Carlos Monasterios offers an intriguing first impression — though looking at the chart, you can see how much these numbers can fluctuate. Look at what happened to Ramon Troncoso, for example, or moving in the other direction, Vicente Padilla.
  • For extreme small-sample candidates, there’s Roman Colon and Travis Schlichting. Consider at your own risk.

If the Dodgers decide that Kuo, Broxton, Guerrier, Jansen and Padilla are all effective against lefties, they could decide to go without a second left-handed pitcher — especially if they also think Cormier is worth a roster slot. It might still be Mahay’s spot to lose or Scott Elbert’s spot to win, but Cormier might be this year’s guy you least expected.

Nov 08

Eyes on the ayes: Twelve votes would put Garvey, John in Hall

Maybe the Dodgers will retire a number this year after all …

  • Steve Garvey and Tommy John are among a group of 12 eligible for the Hall of Fame if they can earn 12 out of 16 votes from a special committee, according to Inside the Dodgers.

    … The 12 individuals who will be considered by the Expansion Era Committee in December for Hall of Fame Induction in 2011: Former players Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub; former manager Billy Martin; and executives Pat Gillick, Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner. Martin and Steinbrenner are deceased; all other candidates are living.

    The 16-member electorate charged with the review of the Expansion Era ballot features: Hall of Fame members Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated). …


    I’m skeptical that Garvey gets (or should get) the support he needs, though certainly it’s as good a look at the Hall as he’s ever had. Personally, I think Miller is most deserving.  The results announcement will come Dec. 6

  • Jared Massey of LADodgerTalk did some research and thinks that an abrupt change to Jonathan Broxton’s slider caused his 2010 downfall.
  • Stadium Review offers a mixed review of Dodger Stadium, though correspondent Drew Cieszynski did say the fans were loud. You might quibble with some points, but overall it’s a pretty fair assessment.
  • Paul DePodesta is moving from San Diego to the New York Mets as their vice-president of player development and amateur scouting, once again working for Sandy Alderson, the new Mets general manager. I’m always nervous about posting DePodesta news for fear that it will reignite a tired debate, but I didn’t want to ignore it.  Congrats to Paul.
  • End of an era: Next year, for the first time in more than two decades, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan will not be doing Sunday Night Baseball telecasts for ESPN, though Miller might stick around to do radio. Richard Sandomir of the New York Times believes that next year’s booth might be Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine.
  • Rob Neyer of ESPN.com made note of the Toronto Blue Jays trading a player to be named later for Colorado catcher Miguel Olivo, whose option they bought out for $500,000. For that price (and an offer of salary arbitration they expect to be denied), the Blue Jays expect to pick up a supplemental first-round draft pick.
  • Matt Bush, known for years as the disastrous No. 1 overall choice of the 2004 draft (by San Diego), has been making a comeback, having converted from shortstop to pitcher. Tampa Bay has added Bush to its 40-man roster, notes David Brown of Big League Stew, after he did his best Kenley Jansen imitation, striking out 20 in 13 2/3 innings over 10 minor-league games this season.
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.

Jul 25

Kershaw, Jansen shut down Mets, 1-0


Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesKenley Jansen has struck out four of the first six hitters he has faced in the majors.

Old man Kenley Jansen, six months older than Clayton Kershaw but about a dozen or more pitching years younger, struck out two batters in the ninth to preserve a 1-0 victory for Kershaw and the Dodgers over the Mets today.

“It’s just crazy,” said Jansen, who made his pitching debut in the minors last July, on the Prime Ticket postgame interview. “It’s just a dream come true.”

After Kershaw threw eight shutout innings (eight baserunners, three strikeouts), the Dodgers pushed across the only run when a Russell Martin double scored a hustling Casey Blake all the way from first base in the bottom of the eighth. Blake, who had singled, also had a diving catch in the sixth inning to save a hit and likely a run with two out and a runner on second in the top of the sixth.

Allowing Jonathan Broxton to rest after the Dodger closer went two innings Saturday, Jansen needed 15 pitches for his second scoreless inning in as many days. Kershaw said after the game to Prime Ticket that Jansen was the first catcher he threw to in the minor leagues.

“It’s amazing how life changes,” Jansen said. “I’m just having fun and at the same time, focused.”

Jul 24

Loney walks it off in 13th, 3-2


Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesMatt Kemp looks to win the Kendry Who? Award with his takedown of James Loney after Loney’s walkoff homer gave the Dodgers a 3-2 victory over the Mets today in 13 innings. The 21st Dodger used in the game, George Sherrill, pitched a 1-2-3 inning for the victory. Carlos Monasterios pitched five shutout innings. and then after James McDonald disappointed in a two-run sixth, Kenley Jansen’s two-strikeout major-league debut kicked off seven consecutive game-saving scoreless (and hitless) innings of relief for Los Angeles.
Jul 23

Dodgers recall Kenley Jansen

The Dodgers announced they have designated Justin Miller for assignment and recalled the tantalizing Kenley Jansen.

Jansen has struck out 50 in 27 innings since his promotion to AA Chattanooga this season. He was converted from catcher to pitcher in 2009, when he caught 34 games and pitched in 12.

Miller had a 4.44 ERA with 33 baserunners allowed in 24 1/3 innings and 30 strikeouts. He allowed 12 runs and seven inherited runs in his last 18 innings.