Dodger Thoughts

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

Category: Spring Training (Page 3 of 13)

In case you missed it: Lighting up the scoreboard

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By Jon Weisman

Today, when Dave Roberts had to make his first mid-inning visit to the mound as Dodger manager, to relieve starter Scott Kazmir with two out in the second inning against the Angels, maybe it seemed like a big deal.

It wasn’t.

Kazmir’s five runs allowed were matched by Jeff Weaver of the Angels, only the start of what became a 13-13 tie in Tempe — recapped at MLB.com.

“I honestly think I’m on the right path,” Kazmir said. “If you look at the game and not the box score, it tells a different story.”

But really, this was a day for the offense.

Joc Pederson, Austin Barnes (who had three hits) and Scott Van Slyke homered for the 4-1-2 Dodgers, who have increased their Spring Training OPS to a rather ridiculous .916.

The player who made the biggest impression today was 20-year-old first baseman Cody Bellinger, the theoretical heir to Adrian Gonzalez — if he can wait that long. Bellinger, who is also capable of playing outfield, went 3 for 3 and is impressing Roberts.

“The game doesn’t speed up on him,” Roberts told Ken Gurnick in this feature for MLB.com. “He looks comfortable out there. The more you see, the more you like.”

What else?

  • Encouraging news on the injury front from Gurnick: Howie Kendrick and Alex Guerrero participated in fielding and hitting drills, Hyun-Jin Ryu threw for the third consecutive day, Justin Turner again played in a minor-league game and Julio Urias had a light bullpen session ahead of his anticipated Cactus League debut Friday.
  • Brett Anderson spoke at length to Gurnick about beginning his latest rehab from surgery to repair a bulging disc.
  • Bill Plunkett of the Register looks at the different ways Roberts tries to connect with his players.
  • Kenta Maeda, who pitches Thursday for the Dodgers, talked to Doug Padilla of ESPN.com about what it would mean if he were able to face off against the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka when the Dodgers go to the Bronx in September.
  • Skip Schumaker, who had twin .332 on-base and slugging percentages for the Dodgers in 2014, has retired at age 36, ending an 11-year MLB career.

In case you missed it: Happy offense behind Kershaw

By Jon Weisman

Spring Training stats are never, ever to be taken seriously.

So it’s entirely in the spirit of fun and frolic that I point out the Dodgers have a .383 on-base percentage and .478 slugging percentage as a team, after reaching base 17 times in today’s 7-3 victory over the Cubs (recapped here by MLB.com).

Here are some postgame notes and news about the 4-1-1 Dodgers:

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Dan Haren jokes about comeback on Twitter

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Kansas City Royals

Dodgers at Cubs, 12:05 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Chase Utley, 3B
Andre Ethier, DH
A.J. Ellis, C
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Trayce Thompson, CF
Rob Segedin, 1B
Micah Johnson, 2B
(Clayton Kershaw, P)

By Jon Weisman

Dan Haren, the one-time Dodger right-hander, has been nothing but fun since his retirement from baseball following the 2015 season. (If you want an extended sample, check out his recent appearance on the Jonah Keri Podcast.)

Anyway, when the Dodgers announced Brett Anderson’s surgery last week, it set Haren’s Twitter wheels in motion, as MLB.com’s Cut4 notes.

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In case you missed it: Utley’s suspension canceled

Chase Utley works out on February 29. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Chase Utley works out on February 29. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Indians at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Corey Seager, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Trayce Thompson, RF
Rob Segedin, 3B
Shawn Zarraga, DH
Charlie Culberson, 2B
(Alex Wood, P)

By Jon Weisman

Chase Utley spoke to reporters today about MLB rescinding his two-game suspension for his hard slide into Ruben Tejada at last year’s National League Division Series.

“At the end of the day, I believe that he believes the slide was not an illegal slide,” Utley said, according to Bill Plunkett of the Register.

Utley also spoke about Tejada, according to Doug Padilla of ESPN.com.

“I can’t say enough how terrible I felt for Ruben,” Utley said. “I had no intent to hurt him whatsoever. If anybody thinks I did, they’re completely wrong.”

Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna of the Times reported Sunday that the suspension would be withdrawn by MLB, which last month revised its rulebook about plays at second base.

… Tejada, vulnerable because his back was turned toward Utley, suffered a fractured right fibula and was sidelined for the rest of the playoffs. In announcing the suspension for what an MLB statement called an “illegal slide,” (MLB chief baseball officer Joe) Torre cited Utley for a “rolling block … away from the base.”

However, such a slide was not explicitly outlawed until Feb. 25, when MLB adopted a new rule to protect middle infielders on slides into second. As a result, Torre said Sunday, the league might have faced difficulty upholding the suspension via an appeal hearing.

“I think it would have been an issue,” Torre said. “There wasn’t anything clear-cut to say that play violated a rule.”

Torre said the priority for the league was not in pursuing a suspension of Utley but in revising the rules to enhance player safety. …

Here are some more pregame news and notes …

  • Howie Kendrick was going to make his first Spring Training start at third base today, but he was a late scratch because of right groin soreness. For the second time in three days, Shawn Zarraga was called upon to serve as emergency designated hitter, with Rob Segedin taking the start at third.
  • Carl Crawford confirmed to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he has been told he will begin the season as a reserve left fielder behind Andre Ethier.
  • Gurnick rounds up some more health updates, including two innings of live batting practice by Julio Urias and the resumption of Hyun-Jin Ryu’s throwing program after a week off.
  • Also, Ethier has a right-hand contusion but was able to continue most baseball activities today, while Alex Guerrero is also back at it and is a candidate to start at designated hitter on Tuesday.
  • Micah Johnson spoke to Padilla about his bid to carve out playing time for himself at what’s become a crowded second base for the Dodgers.
  • SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo was among those to speak with Richard Deitsch of SI.com in this comprehensive story about safety issues facing female sports reporters.
  • The story of Clayton Kershaw’s Public Enemy No. 1 is introduced from the point of view of the batter, Sean Casey, in this Anthony Castrovince story for Sports on Earth.
  • UCLA unveiled a Jackie Robinson statue on campus Sautrday, writes Chad Thornburg of MLB.com. In December, the Dodgers announced plans for their own Robinson statue at Dodger Stadium this year.
  • Tom Knight, a preeminent Brooklyn baseball historian, is remembered in this obituary by Bruce Weber for the New York Times.

In case you missed it: Young pitchers continue to excel

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By Jon Weisman

Just like Jose De Leon and Chris Anderson on Saturday, homegrown Dodger pitching prospects Zach Lee and Ross Stripling each threw two shutout innings today.

Chase De Jong, acquired from Toronto in 2015, added two zeroes of his own in the Dodgers’ 5-2 road Cactus League victory over San Francisco, recapped by MLB com.

The first two Giant batters against Lee reached base on a single and an error, but the 24-year-old righty retired the remaining six batters he faced, striking out one and allowing only one more ball out of the infield.

Stripling, 26 and just about two years removed from Tommy John surgery, allowed three baserunners in his two innings, striking out one. De Jong did almost the same — just subtract one baserunner.

If you’re wondering where Julio Urias is in all this, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that he is about a week behind the rest of the staff because of a tight groin muscle. After three days off, Urias threw a bullpen session Friday and is expected to throw another before entering Cactus League play near the end of this week.

The Dodgers are 3-0-1 through four games, with a team ERA of 1.75.

Austin Barnes well-positioned for step forward

Los Angeles Dodgers Austin Barnes throws to second during workout

 

Dodgers at Giants, 12:05 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Chase Utley, 3B
Scott Van Slyke, DH
A.J. Ellis, C
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Micah Johnson, 2B
Cody Bellinger, 1B
(Zach Lee, P)

By Jon Weisman

Before the 2015 season, Austin Barnes had played 195 professional games at catcher, and nearly the same amount (166) at second base and third.

So it came as something of a surprise that the Dodgers had him dedicate last season exclusively to playing behind the plate, save for single appearances at second and third with the big-league club in September.

The year paid off in terms of Barnes’ development as a backstop, and now, the Dodgers have put the other positions back on the table — all good news for Barnes’ Major League aspirations.

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In case you missed it: Wright, De Leon don’t mind the gap

By Jon Weisman

Jamey Wright, born in 1974, pitched the fifth inning for the Dodgers today.

Jose De Leon, born in 1992, pitched the sixth inning for the Dodgers today.

As wide as that age gap was, both could feel pleased with their performances.

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Maeda measures up in Dodger overture

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Unknown-37By Jon Weisman

Kenta Maeda looked composed and pitched like a composer, conducting with confidence in his Dodger rooster song, his cockatoo debut, his stork salute, his robin’s reverie, his canon of the condor.

“Not really,” the 27-year-old said when asked if he were nervous. “Maybe a little bit, right before I got on the mound, but while I was on the mound, not really.

In two innings before 13,122 at Camelback Ranch, Maeda retired six batters on 28 pitches, striking out two (Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury).

“I thought I was able to add and subtract with the velocity, and also I was able to command all my pitches well today,” Maeda said through a translator. “It was my first opportunity to be able to pitch in front of the fans, so I wanted to make a good impression.”

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Kenta Maeda set for Dodger debut

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Andre Ethier, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Corey Seager, SS
Shawn Zarraga, DH
Elian Herrera, 3B
Corey Brown, CF
(Kenta Maeda, P)
Update: Alex Guerrero, originally listed at DH, was a late scratch with left knee soreness.

By Jon Weisman

A sizable media contingent, soon to be followed by a sellout Camelback Ranch crowd, greets Kenta Maeda today for his first start in a Dodger uniform.

“We’re all excited to get him out there,” Dave Roberts said this morning. “He’s excited to get out there. And it’s just more of getting an up-and-down — two innings — controlling those emotions, and just the fastball command. He’s gonna mix in some breaking balls, but I think for the most part it’s that fastball command.”

With Adrian Gonzalez making his first exhibition start today, Roberts also gave an update on Justin Turner, the only likely Opening Day position player who has yet to see Cactus League action.

“He’s doing everything right now as a baseball player, and I think the first thing we’re gonna do is get him in a game as a designated hitter,” Roberts said. “There’s no date yet — as I said early, he wasn’t going to be playing the first week. … But he’s gonna have time to get at-bats, whether on this side or the (minor-league) side, and he’s taking all the grounders, doing everything he needs to do.”

How Mike Bolsinger hopes to seize latest opportunity

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

The first four times this year that the Dodgers faced their opponents’ starting No. 3 hitter — Jose Abreu on Thursday, Prince Fielder today — they got four strikeouts, by four different pitchers.

The fourth came today from Mike Bolsinger, whose fate for the second spring in a row has become much more interesting, in the wake of injuries to more established starting pitchers.

Through his first 16 starts in 2015, Bolsinger had a 2.83 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 89 innings. He didn’t pitch in the Majors in August, after the Dodgers’ big trade deadline moves, and by the time he returned in September, things weren’t the same. In his final five starts, he lasted 20 1/3 innings and allowed 20 runs (16 earned).

Some say that the August disruption to his routine did him in, but Bolsinger does admit that by the time September came around, he was worn down.

“I think it was just wear on my body,” he said after throwing two shutout innings against Texas today. “If you look at what my curveball was at the beginning of the year to what my curveball was at the end of the year, it didn’t have that life in it and that tumble. I don’t think my arm had that life in it.

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Scott Kazmir works on command in Dodger debut

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

In his two-inning Cactus League debut for the Dodgers, Scott Kazmir hit the highs (two strikeouts, two double-play grounders) and the lows (six hits, two runs) — and predictably found a middle ground in his analysis.

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Updates before the Dodgers’ first Cactus road game

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

Dodgers at Rangers, 12:05 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
Chase Utley, 2B
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Kiké Hernandez, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Trayce Thompson, RF
Alex Guerrero, DH
Brandon Hicks, 3B
(Scott Kazmir, P)

By Jon Weisman

Adrian Gonzalez’s Cactus League debut has been delayed one more day, to allow him to make his first start in a home game.

“He wanted to be in there today,” Dave Roberts said, “but I just felt that as you come back from his neck, to drive 30 minutes and then have an hour or hour and a half off before you crank it back up to play a game, I’d rather take that extra day and err on the side of caution.”

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A strong, stalwart gaze: Confidence and the Dodgers

Dave Roberts, moments before his first Spring Training game as Dodger manager (Ben Platt/MLB.com)

Dave Roberts, moments before his first Spring Training game as Dodger manager (Ben Platt/MLB.com)

By Jon Weisman

Clayton Kershaw jogged to the mound, pounded his fist in his glove, grabbed the resin bag for a quick spin around his palm, scraped his left cleat in front of the rubber, and threw his first warmup pitch. Baseball was back.

The first day of Spring Training games goes hand in hand with optimism, lines up directly alongside confidence. So does Kershaw. The appearance of the great left-hander on a crisp baseball field is as reassuring and encouraging as the sun’s steady climb above the Arizona desert.

But the kind of confidence that christened Camelback Ranch today was not a blind, naive one. Not, after all, on a morning when we learned that starting pitcher Brett Anderson would be lost for half the baseball season, if not more.

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Textbook first inning takes Dodgers to opening victory

Andre Ethier is greeted by Dave Roberts after scoring the Dodgers' second run of the season. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Andre Ethier is greeted by Dave Roberts after scoring the Dodgers’ second run of the season. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

The first inning of the Dodgers’ 6-1 Cactus League opening victory over the White Sox (summarized by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com) was a Spring Training work of art.

After Clayton Kershaw’s initial shutout inning, leadoff hitter Howie Kendrick worked a walk off Chicago starter John Danks. Facing the White Sox lefty in his first at-bat of the season, Andre Ethier singled the opposite way.

Two of the next three hitters — Yasiel Puig and Yasmani Grandal — then hit solid RBI singles. Significantly, a baserunner went from first to third on each.

“If you look at the numbers of how this team ran the bases last year, we can do better,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s a point of emphasis for sure. It’s more of a mindset than a style of baseball. That’s how you play the game.”

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Dodgers discuss direction after Anderson injury

Sign

By Jon Weisman

In the hours since Brett Anderson’s second disc injury in three years was announced, it was easy to say how easy this was to predict.

But according to Dodger general manager Farhan Zaidi, the people who actually do this kind of prediction said it was highly unlikely.

“Going through the diagnosis yesterday, we were told the chance of recurrence of something like this was pretty low, something around 10 percent of the time,” Zaidi said. “It’s obviously an unfortunate thing to happen. He had a healthy season last year, (and) he came in this year in great shape, was doing a lot of preventative stuff to keep something like this from happening.

“In (asking) the doctors, ‘Was this a single traumatic thing, was it something that happened over time?’ — it really could be either. But it was obviously a very quick thing from throwing live BP and looking great, to feeling something, to having some tests done and realizing that he needed surgery. … The fortunate part of it is we’re still hopeful we see him at some point this season, most likely in the second half. But just to get back, the actuarial chances of recurrence are really low in this case, so it was just a bit of bad luck.”

Speaking shortly after striking out two in his two-inning Spring Training debut today, Clayton Kershaw didn’t downplay the significance of what Anderson’s injury meant.

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