Dodger Thoughts

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

Category: Profiles (Page 2 of 3)

Normal spring most welcome for Brett Anderson

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Brett Anderson sat in the chair in front of his locker this morning, his beard a bit longer than it was last year, his outlook a bit more relaxed.

Anderson won’t deny he was tiring by the end of 2015. His 3.69 ERA in a career-high 180 1/3 innings was a physical triumph for a pitcher who had been limited by injuries to 123 innings over the previous three seasons. But that came with a ton of energy dedicated to just making it to the finish line.

Health, or the lack thereof, has been the prologue to practically every Brett Anderson story for years. The big ones — Tommy John surgery and a bulging disc in his back — made the most ambles into the preamble. It was always something, but maybe that’s about to change.

Following last year’s success, Anderson was able to dedicate his winter more to prehab than rehab. To taking a step forward, as opposed to just hanging on.

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Frankie Montas, starter or reliever (Part 2)

Why do I look so worried? I haven't the foggiest idea.

Why do I look worried? I haven’t the foggiest idea.

By Jon Weisman

The debate over Frankie Montas’ Dodger future began the day he arrived: starter or reliever.

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How Chris Hatcher shone in 2015’s second half

2015 NLDS-Game Two-Los Angeles Dodgers vs New York Mets

By Jon Weisman

He was a top Dodger from August through October, but did you notice?

It’s OK if you didn’t. Chris Hatcher understands.

After spending the middle two months of the season on the disabled list with an oblique injury, the Dodger reliever had a 1.31 ERA for the rest of the season, striking out 26 in 20 2/3 innings while allowing 20 baserunners.

Hatcher topped that off by pitching 3 2/3 hitless innings in the National League Division Series against the Mets, retiring 11 of the 12 batters he faced.

Considering all the grief he took for his subpar first half (6.38 ERA, 1.52 WHIP), you might think Hatcher would feel cheated for attention over the final three months. But in a phone interview last week, I stepped to the plate with a question about that second-half success, and he whiffed me.

“I wouldn’t really call it success,” Hatcher said. “I would call it doing my job. Obviously, I didn’t do it several times this year, (though) I did it more so than not.

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Utley undaunted in approach toward 2016

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Arizona Diamondbacks

By Jon Weisman

Chase Utley has seen just about everything in his 13 Major League seasons, but this winter brings something new.

As in, a whole new set of questions.

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Alex Wood looks ahead after a year that ‘wasn’t up to standards’

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Colorado Rockies

By Jon Weisman

When he got on the phone late last week, Alex Wood was on his way to a wedding, an event that has become as regular as a turn in the starting rotation.

“A lot of teammates and friends are getting married, so on the weekends I have a lot of weddings and different things going on,” Wood said. “I had a bachelor party last week and a wedding this weekend, wedding next weekend, wedding the weekend after. The next three weekends I’ve got weddings.”

Inevitably, baseball players become experts at weddings — especially arranged marriages, like the one Wood found himself in July 30 when Atlanta traded him to the Dodgers. In some ways, the honeymoon is over, but in other ways it hasn’t yet begun.

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Slick-fielding (OK, not really) Brett Anderson plans to build off 2015

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Though he is typically self-deprecating (if not self-punishing) about his athleticism off the mound, Brett Anderson said today that Zack Greinke told him he ranked third defensively “according to some stat — I don’t know which one, Brooks Baseball or Fangraphs or whatever.”

The stat, it appears, is stolen base runs saved: “the pitcher’s contributions to controlling the running game.” Or maybe it was dives like this one (click to enlarge) at Texas in June that elevated his defensive stature. Whatever the stat was, Anderson said he wanted it on his headstone.

Slick Brett

More to the point: A month after finishing his busiest and healthiest season of the decade, the left-hander is far from having burial rites performed on his career.

Speaking to reporters today for the first time since agreeing to the Dodgers’ qualifying offer for 2016, Anderson said he is ahead of schedule in terms of his preparation for next season.

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Kiké Hernandez is ceaselessly more than you realize

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs

By Jon Weisman

Kiké Hernandez is nothing if not a man of personas. And if we know nothing else, we know he’s not nothing.

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Zack Greinke, shape-shifter

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Though he never seems to change, Zack Greinke is actually changing all the time.

For one thing, it used to be that finding a smile on Greinke’s face in public was as rare as spotting Bigfoot. But the reality is that Greinke smiles pretty often these days. In Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo’s photos this year, there has been a steady stream of shots of a grinning Greinke.

And you know those smiles aren’t phony, because the one constant with Greinke is that nothing is.

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Mike Bolsinger goes deep in starts — and in thoughts

By Jon Weisman

Unlike his last start at Dodger Stadium, Mike Bolsinger allowed more than one hit tonight — in fact, he allowed three.

But with his seven-inning performance in the Dodgers’ 9-3 victory over Arizona, the 27-year-old righty continued to thrive at Dodger Stadium — and in fact, set a standard worth noting.

Not since Jerry Reuss in June 1982 — nearly six years before Bolsinger was born — had a Dodger pitcher retired 32 straight batters at home, the way Bolsinger did from the second batter of the first inning May 23 through the third inning tonight.

“Everything just felt smooth, from the curveball to the fastball,” said Bolsinger, who struck out eight tonight and lowered his ERA to 2.08. “Everything just felt right.”

Bolsinger, already establishing himself as about as easygoing as they come for a starting pitcher, holds no grudges against the Diamondbacks for taking him off their 40-man roster last fall and then selling him to the Dodgers for cash.

“The way I think about it, it’s probably like $5 million, $6 million, right?” Bolsinger joked.

But pressed further, Bolsinger acknowledged that he has had to make huge strides, on the field and off, to make himself a rotation regular. And though he believed in himself, even he seems a little blown away by the speed of his transformation.

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Yasmani Grandal soaring up the charts

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By Jon Weisman

After going 4 for 4 with two walks, two three-run homers and career-high eight RBI — one of the greatest days by an MLB catcher ever — in the Dodgers’ 14-4 victory over Milwaukee today, Dodger catcher Yasmani Grandal is 16 for 37 with five doubles, three homers and eight walks in his past 12 games — good for a .533 on-base percentage and .833 slugging percentage.

Even including his slow early season start, Grandal has a .414 OBP and .534 slugging percentage in 2015, while taking about 75 percent of the Dodgers’ innings behind the plate. As of this writing, his OPS is 10th in the National League. Grandal entered today leading NL catchers in weighted on-base average (wOBA, minimum 80 plate appearances) at .353, a figure will be even higher once the computers do their work.

Below, enjoy our Dodger Insider magazine feature from April on Grandal (click images to enlarge).

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Sergio Santos strives to keep his hometown uniform

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

GLENDALE, Ariz. — My kids will never grow up to be Major Leaguers like Sergio Santos, but it turns out their formative years going to Dodger games were very much the same.

“I would go, but only under the condition that my parents had to get me a Dodger Dog and some nachos — otherwise I wouldn’t want to go to the game,” Santos said Sunday.

I know the feeling.

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Daniel Coulombe learns from September stint

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By Jon Weisman

Lefty reliever Daniel Coulombe said he had absolutely “no idea” that he was going to get called up to the Majors in September, and considering he began 2014 with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, who can blame him for his surprise?

At FanFest on Saturday, I asked Coulombe to reflect what he’ll take from the experience into 2015, when he will be competing for a spot in the Dodgers’ Opening Day bullpen.

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Opponents in high school, Mike Bolsinger and Clayton Kershaw are now teammates

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IMG_9868By Jon Weisman

Add Mike Bolsinger to the group of new Dodger pitchers who knew Clayton Kershaw when.

Like Brett Anderson, Bolsinger’s knowledge of Kershaw dates back to their high school playing days.

Bolsinger, a righthander who turned 27 on Thursday and is seven weeks older than Kershaw, played on the McKinney High School team that topped Kershaw’s Highland Park High team for the 2006 state title in Texas.

Bolsinger recalled during a chat at FanFest today that under the tournament rules, there was a coin toss to determine whether the championship showdown would be a single game or a three-game series. McKinney won the coin toss, and wisely chose to go for the longer series rather than do-or-die against Kershaw, who went undefeated in his senior season.

“He pitched the first game and won,” Bolsinger said, “and we won the next two.”

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A healthy Joe Wieland is eager to move forward with the Dodgers

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By Jon Weisman

Joe Wieland has already made it back. More than two years after July 2012 Tommy John surgery, the 6-foot-3 righthander pitched in four games for the San Diego Padres this past September, including an 84-pitch start September 24 that gave him his first big-league win.

The kinks, literally and figuratively, have been worked out, and having come to Los Angeles alongside Yasmani Grandal in the de facto three-way trade with the Padres and Philadelphia, Wieland is completely ready to take on 2015 as one of the new members of the Dodger pitching staff.

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Kenley Jansen: The quiet storm

Kenley Jansen ranked second behind Aroldis Chapman among NL relievers in Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Prospectus. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

In 2014, Kenley Jansen ranked second (behind Aroldis Chapman) among NL relievers in Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Prospectus. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Over at Dodger Insider HQ, we don’t think Kenley Jansen gets the national respect he deserves. In the October issue of the print magazine, Cary Osborne delved into what makes Jansen so great — and yet relatively anonymous. Click each image below to enlarge the page.

— Jon Weisman

Jansen 51

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