Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Month: February 2016 (Page 1 of 3)

In case you missed it: Justin Turner won’t start first Cactus games

Happy #LeapDay everyone! #LA @dodgers ⚾️

A post shared by Justin Turner (@redturn2) on

By Jon Weisman

Justin Turner is looking forward to leaping into 2016, but he’ll be leaping cautiously at first.

As a precaution and not unexpectedly, Turner won’t play in the first week of Cactus League games, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes.

Dave Roberts told reporters today that Turner, who is recovering from November microfracture knee surgery, remains on schedule for Opening Day, and that he can get at-bats in minor-league camp in the interim.

Howie Kendrick and Chase Utley will get some starts at third base in the meantime, Roberts said.

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In case you missed it: Adrian Gonzalez’s nicked neck

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

Adrian Gonzalez missed today’s on-field workout after irritating a bulging disc in his neck during Saturday baserunning drills.

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Kershaw to start Dodgers’ Catcus and National League openers

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

It will be 2016 Yearbook cover boy Clayton Kershaw vs. Tyson Ross when the Dodgers open the 2016 National League season April 4 at San Diego.

Kershaw will be making his sixth consecutive Opening Day start, the most in a row since Don Sutton made seven (1972-78). Sutton and Don Drysdale hold the franchise record for Opening Day starts.

As a prelude, Kershaw will be on the mound when the Dodgers open their Cactus League season Thursday at Camelback Ranch agains the White Sox.

Los Angeles has won all five previous Opening Day starts by Kershaw, though he has a no-decision in two of those. For you trivia buffs, the winning pitchers on Opening Day in 2012 and 2015 were Josh Lindblom and Joel Peralta.

Sandy Koufax: ‘I’m still part of the Dodgers … see you Opening Day’

Sandy Koufax shakes hands with Carl Crawford during the Dodgers' workout Friday.

Sandy Koufax shakes hands with Carl Crawford during the Dodgers’ workout Friday.

By Jon Weisman

Since it was revealed that Sandy Koufax no longer has an official, formal role with the Dodgers, there has been some concern. Koufax released a statement today through the Dodgers to address that:

“I’m 80 years old and I have retired.  I have not quit.  I’m still part of the Dodgers organization and always will be especially as long as Mark and Kimbra Walter are part of ownership.  I will do most of what I have done in the past with no official title.  I hope all the players, coaches, manager and everyone else in the clubhouse have successful and healthy seasons with a spectacular ending.  See you Opening Day.”

Clayton Kershaw spoke Friday about Koufax to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

“Whether or not he’s officially here, he’s still around,” Kershaw said of Koufax, who has ended his three-year stint in the front office but visited the club on Friday. “I don’t think it will change much for me. Sandy cares about us as a team, and I think he will be around when he can, and he’ll watch our games.”

The devastating Pedro Guerrero slip-and-slide

GuerreroBy Jon Weisman

Pedro Guerrero’s slide that wasn’t into third base still haunts me. And it was 30 years ago.

Guerrero was at his peak — in fact, he was at everyone’s peak. Having hit 15 home runs in June 1985 alone, finishing the year with a National League-leading .999 OPS and 182 OPS+, Guerrero was the rightful NL Most Valuable Player, even if voters didn’t see it that way.

When Guerrero arrived at Spring Training in 1986, he seemed more than a little aware of his stature. But the media played into that. Some of the coverage bears a striking resemblance to that of Yasiel Puig over the past 2 1/2 years, in that things that should have been unremarkable were treated as the opposite.

According to Gordon Edes of the Times, there was a pool among the beat writers, players and even “a certain manager,” betting on when Guerrero would actually show up in Vero Beach. (Bob Hunter of the Daily News won.) But Guerrero wasn’t late to Spring Training. He was more than on time. He just wasn’t as early as others.

Guerrero did admit to Edes that if it were up to him, he would skip Spring Training entirely. “But if I do that and hit .210, you guys (reporters) would be all over my butt,” he said.

So Guerrero arrived. He had one hit in his first 16 at-bats, then suddenly smacked six doubles and a triple as Grapefruit League play heated up. No one worried about Pedro Guerrero, the player who was, as I’ll never tire of quoting Bill James as saying, “the best hitter God had made in a long time.”

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Yasiel Puig’s 96 mph fastball — from right field

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Just how strong is Yasiel Puig’s arm?

This week at MLB.com, MLB Statcast analyst Mike Petriello wrote about the top outfield arms in baseball. His methodology in brief appears at the end of this post. I followed up by asking Statcast for some numbers specific to the Dodgers, and here’s what I got:

  • 96.0 mph — Yasiel Puig
  • 90.8 mph — Joc Pederson
  • 90.5 mph — Scott Van Slyke
  • 88.5 mph — Alex Guerrero
  • 88.2 mph — Kiké Hernandez
  • 87.7 mph — Andre Ethier
  • 79.7 mph — Carl Crawford

Puig was 2.6 mph behind Houston’s Jake Marsinick, the top outfield arm in the Majors. Here’s a 99.4 mph throw that Puig made at Houston in August:

[mlbvideo id=”404268183″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

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In case you missed it: Sandy salute

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

Though the legendary Sandy Koufax no longer has a formal role with the Dodgers, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes, that doesn’t mean he can’t stop by Camelback Ranch for a nice hello.

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Retired Number Pin Series ready to roll for Dodger fans

retired-number-1-v1-r0

 

The Retired Number Pin Series (presented by 76) runs through 10 games at Dodger Stadium this year, beginning May 9 with No. 1, Pee Wee Reese.

A 21-game Dodger mini plan guarantees you tickets for all 10 Retired Number dates and 10 bobblehead dates — plus Opening Day. Visit dodgers.com/tickets for more information.

— Jon Weisman

In case you missed it: Pulling Puig’s teeth

Dave Roberts speaks to the team today during first full-squad meeting of the year.

Dave Roberts speaks to the team today during first full-squad meeting of the year.

By Jon Weisman

On the day TMZ rumored that Yasiel Puig was getting the world’s greatest helicopter, the Dodger outfielder’s chopper concerns were much more down to earth. Like so many of us have, Puig went through the rite of passage of having his wisdom teeth removed Tuesday.

According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Puig’s jaw remained swollen today. It’s hoped he’ll return to baseball activity Friday.

Meanwhile, sink your pearly whites into these morsels…

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Tony Gwynn Jr., Tim Cates join Dodger Talk team

GwynnBy Jon Weisman

Former Dodger outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. has joined the Dodger Talk team for AM 570 LA Sports Radio. 

In addition, Tim Cates will host the Dodgers pregame show for the first time, incorporating reports from Rick Monday and David Vassegh leading up to the game.

Vassegh is returning for his fifth season to the Dodger Talk postgame show, where he will be joined by Gwynn with contributions from Monday, Charley Steiner, Alanna Rizzo and Ned Colletti.

Dodger Talk can be heard each night from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. during Spring Training and, beginning March 31 with the Freeway Series against the Angels, following every game through the 2016 season.

Known as a top defensive outfielder, Gwynn had a .309 on-base percentage and 80 steals in 106 attempts across his 685-game big-league career from 2006-14. That includes 239 games with the Dodgers in 2011-12, when he had 10 triples and 35 steals. Gwynn tied or led the Dodgers in triples both years.

Cates tn_1200_Tim-WoodenA UCLA graduate, Cates has worked in sports talk radio for almost 20 years, covering the NBA Finals, World Series, Super Bowl and NCAA Final Fours, and serving as a producer, reporter and host on Fox Sports Radio Network and AM 570 LA Sports. Most recently, Cates has hosted UCLA football and basketball pregame and postgame shows, and can also be heard as the studio host for Compass Media Networks coverage of the Oakland Raiders and NCAA football and basketball.

MLB rule revisions tweak slides, neighborhood play

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

The neighborhood play at second base is now subject to review, as part of a series of rules tweaks jointly announced today by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association today and blessed by the World Umpires Association.

The most significant involves plays at second base, and new guidelines have been posted for both baserunners and infielders.

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How Dave Roberts won Spring Training in 2002

Dave Roberts and Jim Tracy (Photos by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dave Roberts and Jim Tracy (Photos by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

It’s easy to see now what the Dodgers have in Dave Roberts, just as it was easy by the end of 2002, when Roberts had a .353 on-base percentage and 45 stolen bases in his debut Dodger season.

At the start of 2002, maybe it wasn’t so easy. Here’s what Bill Plaschke of the Times wrote that March …

The dispatches have arrived from Vero Beach in fits and starts, surrounded by static, as if the strange late-night rantings of a distant radio station.

ZzzzzzzCesar Izturis is starting at shortstop and batting secondzzzz.

ZzzzzzzEric Gagne is the closerzzzzzz.

ZzzzzzDave, Leon, Bip, Robin, Somebody Roberts is the center fielderzzzzz. …

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In case you missed it: Putting the sock back in Joc


By Jon Weisman

The full Dodger squad, minus newly signed Yaisel Sierra, fell into place on what appeared to be a beautiful day a Camelback Ranch. Here’s the latest news and notes …

  • There’s few Spring Training pieces more timely than a systematic look at what went wrong for Joc Pederson in the second half of 2015. Bill Plunkett of the Register talked to Pederson and several people within the Dodger organization for his story.
  • Chase Utley’s hard edge as a competitor doesn’t leave much room for friendships with rivals, but when he’s on your side, there are few better, according to this profile by Andy McCullough of the Times. “I went from being scared to death of him,” A.J. Ellis said, “to loving being his teammate.”

Greg Maddux helping me play sports. Via @jon.soohoo

A post shared by Brett Anderson (@brettanderson46) on

  • New special assistant to president of baseball operations Greg Maddux is spending all of Spring Training at Camelback, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Before taking that position, Maddux received an inquiry from his former Braves colleague, Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten, about whether he might want to be part of the Dodger managerial search last fall.
  • Eric Gagne is also at Camelback as a guest instrutor, notes Gurnick.
  • The Dodgers said it earlier this winter, after the trade with the Reds and White Sox that did not bring Todd Frazier to Los Angeles, but today it was reiterated by Dave Roberts that the team plans for Justin Turner to remain at third base and Corey Seager at shortstop in 2016, rather than moving around the diamond. Kiké Hernandez is currently the backup shortstop.
  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has a humorous recap of Brandon McCarthy’s throwing session today.
  • MLB is hosting an its annual Honorary Bat Girl Contest, “which will recognize one fan from each MLB club who has been affected by breast cancer and has demonstrated a commitment to battling the disease.” Dodger pitcher Scott Kazmir will be one of the guest judges. Entries are being taken through April 14. Click for more details.
  • How does the Dodger video production team set up shop at Camelback? Very quickly, and with lots of hashtags …

Jamey Wright returns to Dodgers on minor-league deal

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Photos by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jamey Wright pitching in his most recent Major League game, on September 27, 2014.

Jamey Wright pitching in his most recent Major League game, on September 27, 2014.

By Jon Weisman

Jamey Wright, who turned 41 exactly one month ago and who hasn’t pitched in the Major Leagues since 2014, has signed a minor-league contract with the Dodgers and received a non-roster invitation to big-league Spring Training.

Wright has had two separate previous stints with the Dodgers, in 2012 (3.72 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 7.2 K/9) and 2014 (4.35 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 6.9 K/9). The 6-foot-6 right did not pitch professionally in 2015 after being cut by the Rangers in Spring Training.

July 3 marks the 20th anniversary of Wright’s MLB debut, which came for Colorado three years to the day after he signed with the Rockies, who drafted him in the first round (28th overall). Wright’s most recent MLB game came against the Rockies, on September 27, 2014.

He has pitched for 10 big-league teams: Colorado, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Texas, Seattle, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, St. Louis, Cleveland and the Dodgers.

Believe it or not, only four Dodgers have pitched in more games over the past four years than Wright’s 127: Kenley Jansen (262), J.P. Howell (200), Brandon League (149) and Ronald Belisario (145). Clayton Kershaw (126) can presumably tie Wright on Opening Day.

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In case you missed it: Would Julio Urias pitch in WBC?

Jose De Leon with Julio Urias on Saturday.

Jose De Leon with Julio Urias on Saturday.

By Jon Weisman

In his story on Julio Urias today for MLB.com, Jesse Sanchez presents a couple of bold March options for the teenage left-hander. I’m not sure how viable either are, but let Sanchez set it up for you …

There could come a time this spring when Dodgers pitching prospect Julio Urias will have to make a big decision: suit up for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic qualifying round next month in Mexicali, Mexico, or stay in Arizona and pitch for a spot with Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old pitcher already knows what he’ll do if the situation arises.

“My first choice would be to be here with the Dodgers and see if there is an opportunity for me here,” Urias said in Spanish. “I prefer to be with the Dodgers. But at the same time, I would enjoy being with the Mexican team.” …

Not even Clayton Kershaw made his pitching debut with the Dodgers in the month of April, so when you talk about Urias trying to “pitch for a spot with Los Angeles,” one assumes that’s a long-term goal. As for the WBC, Urias doesn’t have any specific reason to believe he would go.

“I’ve heard I appeared on a list, but nobody has said anything to me,” Urias said. “Adrian [Gonzalez] is here and his brother is the manager, so I don’t know what my status is there. I would love to do it, but it’s also up to Mexico to choose me.”

Perhaps the main takeaway from Sanchez’s story might be that Urias, who has rated as mature for his age even since the Dodgers signed him in 2012, continues to progress.

“In talking to people that were here in years prior, he’s got a different look in his eye,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s got that confidence where he’s no longer this young kid with a blessed arm. Right now, he feels that at the Major League level, there is a real opportunity to make an impact, and that’s a good thing.”

Elsewhere in the world of the Dodgers and baseball … 

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