Dodger Thoughts

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

Month: March 2016 (Page 1 of 5)

Corey Seager busy in return to action

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By Jon Weisman

The fates didn’t waste any time throwing the business at Corey Seager in his first Dodger game in nearly three weeks.

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Scott Kazmir finishes Spring Training safe at any speed

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Scott Kazmir began tonight’s Freeway Series opener against the Angels with his two-seam fastball running between 88 and 90 mph in the first inning.

Then, with two outs and two strikes on C.J. Cron, Kazmir hit 92 with a fastball that Cron fouled into A.J. Ellis’ glove for strike three.

The speed bump wasn’t a coincidence.

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Alex Guerrero to begin season on disabled list

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Angels at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kiké Hernandez, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Chase Utley, 2B
A.J. Ellis, C
Corey Seager, SS
Scott Kazmir, P

By Jon Weisman

As the Dodgers returned home from their wanderings in the desert, they took another step toward finalizing their Opening Day roster — with other steps remaining to go before Saturday morning deadline.

Dodger manager Dave Roberts said that Alex Guerrero remains at Camelback Ranch and will begin the season on the disabled list

“He had an MRI that showed minimal damage, but now we at least understand the discomfort and the pain he’s having in his knee,” Roberts said. “I really don’t know what the specifics were — I talked to the training staff, and whatever verbiage they used, it kind of validated some of the pain he’s been having.”

In other developments:

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Rick Monday, Tom Paciorek, J.D. Drew elected to College Baseball Hall

Rick Monday kneeling 1965

TPBy Jon Weisman

Three former Dodgers — Rick Monday, Tom Paciorek and J.D. Drew — have been elected to the 2016 class of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Monday, the current broadcaster whose capture-the-flag exploits and 1981 National League Championship Series-winning home run made him a Dodger legend, was the first draft pick in MLB history after The Sporting News named him 1965 National Player of the Year.  We chronicled Monday’s journey from college to draft groundbreaker in a Dodger Insider feature last summer.

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Drew, who had a .905 OPS for the Dodgers from 2004-05 and was part of the heroic 4+1 quintet, was a two-time All-American and consensus national player of the year awards in 1997 for Florida State.

Paciorek, who played the first six seasons of his 18-year MLB career with the Dodgers, was an All-American in 1967 and 1968 and hit .435 in 1967 for Houston.

In case you missed it: Camelback farewell beckons …

Indians at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Trayce Thompson, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Rob Segedin, 3B
Charlie Culberson, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

On the final day of Cactus League play at Camelback Ranch for 2016, here are some Dodger tidbits …

  • Though he remains hopeful that Yasmani Grandal will be on the Opening Day roster Monday, Dave Roberts told reporters today that A.J. Ellis would catch Clayton Kershaw.
  • Roberts didn’t leak his entire Opening Day batting order, but predicted Justin Turner-Adrian Gonzalez would be in the three-four slots, and that Chase Utley (playing second base in place of Howie Kendrick) might lead off. For what it’s worth, Utley has OPSed .892 this spring.
  • Corey Seager remains scheduled to start Thursday in the Dodgers’ Freeway Series opener.
  • Trayce Thompson, Charlie Culberson, Rob Segedin and Austin Barnes should see action in the Freeway Series, but Rico Noel, Elian Herrera and Brandon Beachy won’t.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu had a full bullpen session scheduled for today and should begin facing hitters at Camelback next week. All players on the disabled list are to be at Dodger Stadium for Opening Day, however.
  • Scott Kazmir provides an interesting touchstone for Julio Urias in this Ken Gurnick MLB.com story. Kazmir was 20 when he made his big-league debut for Tampa Bay, whose director of baseball development at the time was Andrew Friedman.
  • Don Newcombe told Ron Cervenka of Think Blue L.A. that running is the key for a pitcher to stay healthy.
  • MLB players and coaches can now have iPads in the dugout during games. Roberts said his staff might take advantage, but that he was more likely to stick with paper.

Nine surprising Opening Day starters for the Dodgers

Luis Cruz greets Justin Sellers during Opening Day introductions in 2013. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Luis Cruz greets Justin Sellers during 2013 Opening Day introductions. (Photos by Jon SooHoo)

Vicente Padilla allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings on Opening Day 2010. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Vicente Padilla allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings on Opening Day 2010.

By Jon Weisman

Every spring, there’s tons of edge-of-your-laptop anticipation over who will start for the Dodgers on Opening Day, even if it won’t mean much by the end of that year, month, week or game.

Going back 30 years, here are nine of the most eccentric picks for the Dodgers’ season-opening lineups. Do you remember them all? They’re each peculiar yet lovable in their own way …

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Ross Stripling falters near finish but stays on radar

Ross Stripling in February (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Ross Stripling in February (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Ross Stripling had an interesting day today — not as interesting as the 11-9 final score of the Dodgers’ loss to the Padres would suggest — but interesting nonetheless.

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Dodgers Accelerator taking applications for Year 2

Scene from the Dodgers Accelerator presentations November 10. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Scene from the Dodgers Accelerator presentations November 10. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

AcceleratorBy Jon Weisman

One year ago, the Dodgers and R/GA debuted Dodgers Accelerator (@DodgersAccel on Twitter), an incubator for sports business and technology development, with 10 businesses ultimately presenting their work at a Dodger Stadium event in November.  Partnership deals and capital raises for participants followed.

Today, applications are now open for the second year of Dodgers Accelerator action.

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In case you missed it: Dodgers option Liberatore, hone in on bullpen

Adam Liberatore has struck out 11 in nine Cactus League innings this year.

Adam Liberatore has struck out 11 in nine Cactus League innings this year.

Dodgers at Padres, 1:10 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Chase Utley, 2B
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Ross Stripling, P

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers are down to two left-handers in their Major League bullpen after optioning Adam Liberatore to the minors following the team’s 5-4 victory Monday over Texas.

The question now is, will they go down to one?

Since we last checked in on the bullpen, it has been whittled in predictable fashion, leaving the following:

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The call of the yard

backyard

By Jon Weisman

Speaking of retirements …

My youngest son hung up his baseball spikes last year, when he was 7. He lasted a year longer than his older brother, and took a bit more pleasure in it, but it’s all relative. Youngest Master Weisman was the classic player who loved when it was his turn to bat, but went on mental walkabout when he was out in the field, so that when the ball finally did come at him, it was usually 20 feet behind him before he realized it.

He likes being with other kids, but he’s got other ways of being with other kids. He was a good sport, but when you’re 7, now 8, life’s too short to stand around bored in the sun.

But as I expect Jamey Wright knows, there’s always the backyard. There’s always the place where you control the game, where you can bat as long as you like and if you never want to stand around waiting for a ball to come to you, you don’t have to.

Several times during this Spring Training month, while his old coach-pitch teammates have moved on with their lives, my youngest and I have gone out to our little yard, with a toy bat and two Fisher Price balls, well beneath his age level, that we probably purchased half his life ago. The bat weighs about an ounce — just enough heft so that it doesn’t break upon contact, but ideal for him to whip around effortlessly. The ball hits the bat with the sound of a folded newspaper whacking a fly.

The photo above makes our yard look deceptively large — this park, to paraphrase “Major League,” is not Yellowstone. Somehow, the dimensions are just right for what we’re up to. I pitch from just in front of the woodsy part, and he has to make solid contact to get it past me. That happens, I’m gonna say, three out of 10 times. (I really have no idea, but that suits the idyllic feel.) There’s a back fence shortly behind the tall trees, hidden. One time, when we said “one more good hit before we go in,” he cleared it. Now, that was a well-earned home run trot.

This weekend when we did it, he was in a sad mood before we began, and cheerful when we finished.

I have lots of aspirations for my kids. Possibly too many. Possibly not enough. But when it comes to sports, I just want them to enjoy it. We’re not looking to turn pro — we’re barely aiming for amateur. We go outside, never planned, never for very long, never really accomplishing anything. And each time we do, each time possibly being the last time, it means more to me than anything in a boxscore ever could.

After 19 MLB seasons, Jamey Wright retires

Love this guy!

A post shared by Jamey Wright (@thejameywright) on

Rangers at Dodgers 7:05 p.m.
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Austin Barnes, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Charlie Culberson, 2B
Alex Wood, P

By Jon Weisman

If it was a longshot for Jamey Wright to make a comeback with the Dodgers at age 41, what a sweet longshot it was.

Wright, who allowed 16 baserunners in 6 2/3 Cactus League innings, announced today that he was retiring from baseball, after 19 Major league seasons and nearly 23 years after signing his first professional contract. He had a chance to say goodbye to the sport with his eyes wide open.

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The Dodgers and ‘The Arm’

Yahoo baseball columnist Jeff Passan’s new book, “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports,” was excerpted at his home site today, and among other things it offers a rare peek into the kinds of steps the Dodgers have taken to grow and target their research and development department in baseball operations. Start reading, and take special note when Dr. James Buffi first appears.

— Jon Weisman

No, not everyone got hurt: 2016 Spring Training stars

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres

By Jon Weisman

One week from Opening Day, it’s safe to say that injuries have dampened Spring Training for the Dodgers this year, like picking the wrong line at Philippe’s 30 minutes before game time. If there’s an upside, it’s that aside from the injuries, there’s been a feast for the baseball senses. Nearly everyone on the field is meeting or exceeding expectations. Here are some of the brightest (and, knock on wood) healthiest lights at Camelback Ranch this month:

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In case you missed it: Ex-Dodger moves forward from tragedy

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Reds at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Trayce Thompson, CF
Chase Utley, 3B
Scott Van Slyke, RF
A.J. Ellis, C
Rob Segedin, 1B
Austin Barnes, 2B
Charlie Culberson, SS
Kenta Maeda, P

By Jon Weisman

I hope you don’t have to read a tougher story than this today: Former Dodger reliever Javy Guerra spoke to J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News about the twin horrors of losing his brother and sister in the past two years.

Here’s what’s happening around the Dodgers …

  • Zach Lee held serve in his challenge with Carlos Frias to start in the first week of the 2016 season. In the Dodgers’ 5-4 victory Saturday over the White Sox, Lee (pitching 4 2/3 innings) got two more outs than Frias, but allowed two more runs. Oddly, Lee had no walks or strikeouts.
  • Wrote Ken Gurnick of MLB.com: “Some will speculate that because Frias faced the Giants recently, Lee will get that first start, rather than have Frias face the same hitters again. San Francisco’s lineup Friday night included Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford.”
  • Under the radar, Kiké Hernandez (hit by a pitch near his oblique Sunday), Alex Guerrero (knee) and Yimi Garcia (knee) have gone days without playing as they try to let various sore spots heal.
  • However, Gurnick indicates that Corey Seager is nearing a return to Major League action after playing defense in a minor-league game Saturday.
  • Scott Kazmir’s abdominal issues weren’t abominable – it turns out, they were cramps.
  • Prospect watchers got a thrill when 20-year-old Cody Bellinger and 21-year-old Willie Calhoun hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning off MLB veteran Dan Jennings. Each player reached base twice in the game.
  • Justin Turner walked, doubled and singled in his three plate appearances, and now has a Cactus League on-base percentage in the .700 club.
  • Play-by-play announcer Joe Davis is not only spending his first season with the Dodgers in 2016, he and his wife Libby are having their first baby this summer. Congrats!
  • It was Dodger Pride night Saturday at Staples Center with the Kings.

Many happy returns for Vin, Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Well, the Dodgers sure treated Vin Scully right tonight in his 2016 exhibition debut, with the exception of giving him some drama.

Before the game was half over, Scully had a “deuces wild,” a “butter and egg man” and “out from me to you” – not to mention a whopping Dodger victory.

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