Dodger Thoughts

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

Page 173 of 365

In case you missed it: Sights and sounds of Australia

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By Jon Weisman

Nothing can top Vin Scully with a koala, but there’s still a lot going on …

  • Wind could be a gamechanger in the Opening Series, and there’s a 30 percent chance of rain, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • The Dodgers’ exhibition game against Team Australia begins Thursday at 1 a.m. Pacific. Zach Lee and Red Patterson will pitch, but we don’t know yet who will start.
  • Some Dodgers visited Bondi Beach and played ball with local Little Leaguers, writes Doug Miller of MLB.com. Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles has more, as does the Dodgers video crew:

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  • Carl Crawford left a minor-league game in Arizona early with a right shoulder injury. Don Mattingly passed along word from Sydney that Crawford is expected to play again in Arizona on Thursday after a planned day off and that no MRI exams or other scans were scheduled, “but that could change,” according to The Associated Press.
  • Dan Haren gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings Tuesday but feels rejuvenated, writes Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Matt Kemp is also feeling good.
  • The Dodgers set a new record for average game attendance at Camelback Ranch this year, 9.534 per game, notes Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.
  • Longtime farm system analyst John Sickels gives his take on the Dodgers’ top 20 prospects at Minor League Ball.
  • According to the newly relaunched FiveThirtyEight, Hanley Ramirez in 2013 had baseball’s most surprisingly good season in the past eight years, while Andruw Jones in 2008 nearly had the most disappointing one.
  • Wally Moon gets the 1961 Union Oil Family Booklet treatment (see it at Blue Heaven).
  • One last video:

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Vin Scully: I love Koa-LA

“So when he wrote his name in capital letters in the record books, that “K” stands out even more than the O-A-L-A.”

Vin Scully has always taken the time to celebrate the cute ones in the crowd. It’s no different in Australia, as Josh Tucker’s tweets show us.

Meanwhile, here are the Dodgers all dressed up with some place to go – the MLB gala in Sydney, brought home to us by Jon SooHoo’s photos.

Los Angeles Dodgers attend MLB Gala

– Jon Weisman

Start with 25 players, finish with 50

Los Angeles Dodgers first full squad workout

By Jon Weisman

For all the fuss over who’s on the Opening Day roster, about half the players the Dodgers use in a typical season typically aren’t. Last year, it was exactly half.

Of the 50 players who wore the uniform for the 2013 Dodgers, 14 began their season in the Dodger farm system, four on the disabled list and seven in other organizations.

Note that Aaron Harang was on the Dodgers’ Opening Day active roster but did not pitch for them in 2013. That doesn’t happen a lot. He was traded April 6 to Colorado for Ramon Hernandez, who was in roster limbo after being designated for assignment before the end of Spring Training.

The Dodgers received 920 plate appearances (15 percent of the team total of of 6,145) and 312 innings (21 percent of the team total of 1,450 1/3) from players who replaced the original 25 in 2013. Top contributors were Yasiel Puig (432 plate appearances), Scott Van Slyke (152) and Dee Gordon (106) at the plate, and Ricky Nolasco (87 innings), Stephen Fife (58 1/3) and Chris Withrow (32 2/3) on the mound.

The 2013 Dodgers on April 1

Opening Day 2013 roster (25): Josh Beckett, Ronald Belisario, Chris Capuano, Zack Greinke, Matt Guerrier, Aaron Harang, J.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw, Brandon League, Paco Rodriguez, Hyun-Jin Ryu, A.J. Ellis, Tim Federowicz, Luis Cruz, Mark Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto, Justin Sellers, Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Jerry Hairston, Skip Schumacher

Disabled list (4): Chad Billingsley, Scott Elbert, Hanley Ramirez, Ted Lilly

Triple-A Albuquerque (12):  Elian Herrera, Stephen Fife, Alex Castellanos, Josh Wall, Dee Gordon, Chris Withrow, Shawn Tolleson, Javy Guerra, Matt Magill, Scott Van Slyke, Nick Buss, Peter Moylan

Double-A Chattanooga (2): Yasiel Puig, Jose Dominguez

Other organizations (7):

  • Chicago Cubs: Carlos Marmol
  • Miami Marlins: Ricky Nolasco
  • San Diego Padres: Edinson Volquez
  • Texas Rangers: Michael Young
  • Triple-A Rochester (Minnesota Twins): Drew Butera
  • Designated for assignment (Colorado Rockies): Ramon Hernandez
  • Unsigned: Brian Wilson

In case you missed it: International Date Line edition

Los Angeles Dodgers workout at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia

By Jon Weisman

Did Monday go by in a blur for you? It sure did for the traveling Dodgers, who were on a plane the entire time before landing in Australia on what for them was Tuesday morning. (Add 18 hours to the current time to know what time it is there.)

While the Dodgers are away, be sure to follow @Dodgers on Twitter for regular updates from our man on the scene, Josh Tucker. And also check in on the Dodger Photog Blog, featuring our very own eyes in Sydney, Jon SooHoo. In his first two posts, the Dodger team photographer chronicles the Dodgers’ arrival in Sydney and at the Sydney Cricket Grounds.

Ken Gurnick is also leading MLB.com’s coverage of the team Down Under, as you’ll see down under these introductory paragraphs.

In the meantime, here’s what’s been happening while you were sleeping, eating, doing laundry or otherwise going about your domestic business.

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Post-Arizona status report for the Dodgers

Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

There’s definitely a weird feeling to this Spring Training interregnum between Arizona and Australia — not that it won’t feel even weirder next week, when the Dodgers follow their two regular season games Down Under with four off days and then a pair of Freeway Series exhibitions against the Angels.

Nevertheless, with no game action until the Dodgers scrimmage against Team Australia on Thursday, and the Dodgers having set their 30-man travel squad for Sydney, this does seem like an appropriate time to take a little bit of stock.

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March 16 pregame: From farewell to g’day

Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago White Sox

Rockies vs. Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Yasiel Puig, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Andre Ethier, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Dee Gordon, 2B
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P

By Jon Weisman

Today brings the Dodgers’ long day’s journey into night: a Camelback Ranch finale followed by a flight to Australia.

The lineup to the right might well be the Dodgers’ intended starting lineup for the regular season, as much as there can be one given health issues and how often Don Mattingly will factor in matchups.

Meanwhile, the team hasn’t made an official announcement yet about its Australia travel roster, though the pieces have nearly fallen into place, factoring in the news that Carl Crawford won’t travel as he waits for his child to be born.

Remember the unique rules: The Dodgers can take 30 players to Australia, not including three exempt players who will stay behind but remain eligible for the team’s domestic opener March 30 at San Diego. Five of the 30 only travel as potential injury replacements and otherwise wouldn’t be on the active roster for official games.

Here is a potential — though again, not official — list, with the backup five in italics:

  • Starting pitchers (4): Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Paul Maholm, Zach Lee or Red Patterson
  • Relief pitchers (10): Kenley Jansen, Brian Wilson, J.P. Howell, Chris Perez, Jamey Wright, Paco Rodriguez, Seth Rosin, Chris Withrow, Jose Dominguez, Javy Guerra
  • Catchers (3): A.J. Ellis, Tim Federowicz, Drew Butera
  • Infielders (7): Adrian Gonzalez, Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Justin Turner, Chone Figgins, Miguel Rojas
  • Outfielders (6): Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke, Mike Baxter, Joc Pederson, Nick Buss
  • Exempt (3): Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Brandon League
  • Disabled list (4): Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Scott Elbert, Matt Kemp
  • Paternity leave (1): Carl Crawford

Links and other notes:

  • However meaningless it was, it’s clear that Clayton Kershaw was fairly frustrated by his Spring Training performance, which ended in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the White Sox. He talked to Tyler Emerick of MLB.com about it.
  • Arizona pitcher Patrick Corbin, whom the Dodgers were scheduled to face Opening Day in Sydney, has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament and won’t make the trip while he seeks a second opinion on his condition, writes John Schlegel of MLB.com.
  • The Dodgers might be facing a decision on Miguel Olivo, reports Emerick, who says Olivo has asked for his release rather than accept a minor-league assignment.
  • Matt Kemp went 1 for 2 in a minor-league game Saturday, playing three innings in center field.
  • Jose Dominguez, Jamey Wright and Paco Rodriguez have now pitched on consecutive days. Dominguez pitched eight innings in the Cactus League without allowing a run, allowing five baserunners while striking out nine.
  • Kenley Jansen is scheduled to go back-to-back today after extending his own scoreless streak by an inning Saturday.
  • Sam Demel completed his Arizona run with 7 1/3 scoreless innings.
  • Dee Gordon had his fourth Spring Training triple in 39 at-bats Saturday, to go with a perfect record in nine steals. Gordon’s exhibition OBP is .326.
  • The Dodgers’ top OBPs this spring have come from infield candidates Miguel Rojas (.500) and Justin Turner (.432).
  • Craig Minami of True Blue L.A. interviewed several potential Dodger reserves about how they are taking to their roles off the bench.

Intermission: Baseball reacts to Julio Urias

Dodgers vs. White Sox, 7:05 p.m.
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, SS
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
AJ Ellis, C
Alex Guerrero, 2B
Joc Pederson, CF
Chone Figgins, LF
Clayton Kershaw, P

San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles, J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News, Steve Dilbeck of the Times and Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. wrap up Julio Urias’ spring debut, coming in the Dodgers’ 5-4 victory over San Diego (recapped here by Tyler Emerick of MLB.com).

From Saxon:

A veteran major-league scout, sitting behind home plate, watched Urias’ 14 pitches and typed in his first impressions of the youngest prospect in the game, in a text message. One of the first words he came up with is “Poise.”

“Stuff was good,” the scout added. “He pitches to both sides of the plate, with tail and sink. He has deception with his changeup.”

More shots from Jon SooHoo of today’s action here.

Feel the buzz: Julio Urias strikes out two in perfect inning

By Jon Weisman

Six years and six days after Clayton Kershaw put himself on the Spring Training map just before his 20th birthday with “Public Enemy No. 1,” 17-year-old Julio Urias has made his initial moundprint.

Urias, who doesn’t even turn 18 until August, was a surprise starter in the Dodgers’ afternoon Spring Training game against San Diego. After falling behind in the count 3-0 to Padres leadoff batter Will Venable, Urias came back to strike him out, induce a groundout from Chris Denorfia and then strike out Yonder Alonso. Urias reportedly had a fastball between 93 and 96 miles per hour.

Pitching most of 2013 at age 16, Urias had 67 strikeouts against 61 baserunners in 54 1/3 innings for Single-A Great Lakes with a 2.48 ERA.

Urias, born exactly two years after the 1994 MLB strike began, could pitch in Double-A this year and be in the majors before his 19th birthday if the Dodgers are willing to let the reins go that much. Of course, expect them to be exceedingly careful.

For comparison, Fernando Valenzuela was 18 1/2 when he made his minor-league debut in 1979, and reached the majors two months before his 20th birthday in 1980. Kershaw made his MLB debut at age 20 and two months in 2008.

I interviewed Urias in February for a future Dodger Insider article, and the word I would use to describe him is “confident.” And why not?

March 15 pregame: Julio Urias to start

Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs

Padres vs. Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
Tim Federowicz, C
Mike Baxter, RF
Miguel Rojas, 3B
Julio Urias, P

By Jon Weisman

Above, Jose Vizcaino gets some workout time in with newcomer Erisbel Arruebarrena.

Three games in 27 hours, and then the team heads for Sydney.

  • The Dodgers’ Wheel of Bullpen is spun by Ken Gurinck of MLB.com.
  • The possibility of Yasiel Puig in the leadoff spot is explored by David Schoenfield of ESPN.com’s Sweet Spot.

Beckett thumbs nose at hitters, noses thumb at fates

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By Jon Weisman

Josh Beckett pitched three shutout innings today in the Dodgers’ 5-4 loss to the Cubs (recapped here by A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com), but instead of turning his frown upside down, his grin was turned outside in.

Beckett had to leave the game an inning before he planned, because of a right thumb as aggravated as Beckett’s patience. An excerpt from Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

“It’s not getting worse, but not getting better,” Beckett said. “I’ll probably see the doctor again. It’s frustrating, but it could have happened at a worse time. Just dealing with it the best I can. If I need a couple days off, maybe I will. I don’t want to fall too far behind.”

The injury is on the inside of the base of the thumb near the joint. Beckett said it bothers him mostly throwing breaking balls, but in his final inning on Friday, he also was uncomfortable with fastballs. The original plan was to pitch four innings Friday, but trainer Stan Conte and manager Don Mattingly decided to cut it short.

Beckett becomes a prime candidate to open the season on the disabled list. He was not going to be needed in Australia anyway, and as the fifth starter, Beckett would not make a start until mid-April.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. did record a silver lining from Beckett.

If there was a positive for Beckett, it was his five groundball outs in three innings.

“I always feel like if I’m getting ground balls I’m doing fine, even if they’re rolling in for hits during spring training,” he said. “Getting ground balls means you’re fingers are on top of the ball and you’re getting decent plane.”

Positive news came from two other Dodger starters on the mend, as Gurnick notes. Zack Greinke showed continued improvement in his right calf after completing a scheduled bullpen session, while Chad Billingsley is on target for minor-league rehabilitation assignment in April. J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News has more.

Also …

  • Dodger infielders Dee Gordon, Alex Guerrero and Miguel Rojas combined to go 5 for 7 with three doubles, a triple and a steal today.
  • Andre Ethier is 7 for 15 with two doubles and a homer in a five-game hitting streak.
  • Drew Butera hit one out today in the ninth inning.
  • Today’s game was played before a Cactus League record 15,191, according to Cassavell.
  • Yasiel Puig is frustrated, to sum up this Gurnick piece.

March 14 pregame: Kershaw’s careful curveball

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Dodgers vs. Cubs, 1:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
Justin Turner, 3B
AJ Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, SS
Josh Beckett, RHP

By Jon Weisman

Above, my favorite play of Spring Training to date: Justin Turner to Red Patterson on the fly …

Below, news and links aplenty …

  • Clayton Kershaw didn’t throw a single curveball with a three-ball count in 2013 and has done so only once since 2010, writes Cory DiBenedetto in a short analysis for Gammons Daily. Kershaw also hasn’t allowed a home run on his curveball — on any count — in the past four seasons. (In case you’re wondering, the famous “Public Enemy No. 1” curve came on a 1-2 count.)
  • Sam Demel and Kershaw are the scheduled starters for Saturday’s split-squad games. Both games are at Camelback Ranch, though the night game against the White Sox is technically a road game. For Kershaw, it will be his last game action before the regular season begins March 22 in Australia.
  • ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, which “attempt to measure how well each team is set up for sustained success over the next five years,” place the Dodgers third among MLB teams, behind Boston and St. Louis. A year ago, ESPN had the Dodgers eighth, which at the time struck me as too low given the team’s burgeoning resources.
  • Related: The Dodgers have the best “core five” in the game, according to David Schoenfield of ESPN.

    1. Los Angeles Dodgers
    Clayton Kershaw, Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez

    This group could be even better than it was in 2013 with full seasons from Ramirez and Puig. Greinke was so dominant over his final 16 starts (1.57 ERA) that he’s a reasonable Cy Young candidate behind his best-starter-in-baseball teammate. The fifth player on the list could be Gonzalez or Matt Kemp or even third starter Hyun-Jin Ryu.

  • Manny Mota, who has graciously passed his No. 11 jersey to Erisbel Arruebarrena, remembers Roberto Clemente in this interview with Lyle Spencer of MLB.com.
  • Stan Conte spoke in some detail about injury prevention and predicting injuries at the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics Conference on Thursday. J.P Hoornstra of the Daily News has details, and Christina Kahrl of ESPN.com has more as well.
  • Don Mattingly is back in camp today after two days away on bereavement leave.
  • Yasiel Puig went 4 for 10 in intrasquad play Thursday — he starts in right field today.
  • Scheduled to follow Josh Beckett, who is testing a sprained right thumb, on the mound today are Jose Dominguez, Paco Rodriguez, Javy Guerra, Chris Withrow and Jamey Wright.
  • Red Patterson pitched 3 1/3 shutout innings for the Dodgers on Thursday, but Seth Rosin finally gave up his first earned run. If you’re keeping track, Patterson has a 0.93 ERA this spring, while Rosin is at 1.64.
  • Rosin still leads the staff in strikeouts (12) and is tied with Hyun-Jin Ryu for the most innings (11).
  • Brandon League talked about his spring to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. Stephen also gets Mattingly’s thoughts on League’s progress.
  • Brett Tomko, 41 next month and seven seasons removed from his Dodger days, is going to Kansas City on a minor-league deal, a week after the Royals parted ways with a Dodger teammate of Tomko’s, Brad Penny.
  • Tim Newcomb of SI.com presents a vision of the ballpark of the future. Pretty pictures.
  • Thursday in Jon SooHoo.

March 13 pregame: Ethier in the ether

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Reds vs. Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Chone Figgins, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Juan Uribe, 3B
Andre Ethier, LF
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Justin Turner, 1B
Tim Federowicz, C
Paul Maholm, LHP

By Jon Weisman

Above, the sweet swing of Andre Ethier from Wednesday’s game. Ethier has been enjoying his exhibition at-bats this year, going 10 for 28 with a .500 slugging percentage.

Jon SooHoo has photos from Wednesday, including Matt Kemp, intrasquad-style.

  • Seth Rosin, he of the eight innings and 0.00 ERA this spring, is scheduled to follow Paul Maholm on the mound today.
  • Zack Greinke had “no added discomfort” in his right calf today, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Times.
  • Chad Billingsley news from Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles: “After 11 months of laborious rehab and 16 bullpen sessions, he is about to face hitters again. That step will come late next week against Dodgers’ minor-leaguers, Billingsley said, and it could be followed up fairly quickly by pitching in real games.”
  • Sidelight: Eno Sarris writes at the Hardball Times about being working the baseball clubhouse as a reporter with an advanced-stats perspective.

Introducing Erisbel Arruebarrena

Los Angeles Dodgers Erisbel Arruebarrena
More on the newest Dodger from Jon SooHoo here.

— Jon Weisman

In case you missed it: Spring Training’s eternal mysteries

By Jon Weisman

All that’s great and ugly about Spring Training, chapter whatever …

Zach Lee, looking stirrup-sharp, enters today’s Dodger game against the Diamondbacks in the top of the third inning and retires the first seven batters he faces. Five of the next six reach base, and what looks like a showcase outing turns into apparent mediocrity. But boy, he sure looked good before the roof (or, given the stakes, the pup tent) caved in.

This wasn’t the only classic Spring Training story of the day, which saw the Dodgers lose to Arizona, 9-2.  (Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has the game recap.) We also saw and heard tale of multiple players trying to overcome injury.

Zack Greinke made it through two innings of his start today and threw 14 more pitches in the bullpen afterward, but acknowledged that he still has a corner or two left to turn in his recovery from a calf injury, according to Gurnick. A small excerpt:

“I’d thought I’d be fine that day (of the injury), like 100 percent in a day or two,” he said. “It just hasn’t gotten better, it’s a 10 percent pace from what I was expecting. You know it’s there. If I did more than I’m ready to do, I’d be right back where I started. But it’s getting better every day and that’s the key.”

Speaking of revelations: Josh Beckett revealed that he caught his right thumb in a clubhouse door 10 days ago and that it is sprained. Beckett, who threw mostly fastballs while giving up three home runs in his most recent Spring Training outing Sunday, might skip his next start. From Gurnick:

Beckett has had previous problems with the inside ligament of the thumb.

“I come back from thoracic outlet surgery and this happens,” he said in frustration.

Then there’s Matt Kemp. Weird, but in a good way? That seems to be how to interpret Kemp’s evaluation of his first action of any kind in center field this year, in today’s minor-league intrasquad game. Dylan Hernandez of the Times relays the quotes:

“I feel a little weird still being out there, but I’m having a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m excited to be back on the field, just playing. That’s the process. We’re taking our time.”

Kemp was in center field for two innings.

“I’m still trying to get my legs under me,” he said. “I just wanted to feel good. The legs feel a little heavy and tired at times, but that comes with getting back into shape. You can lift as many weights as you want, but nothing prepares for the game speed out there on the baseball field.

All part of another Spring Training day. Only four of them left before the big club leaves Arizona for Australia.

* * *

  • The Dodgers’ schedule of minor-league Spring Training games was conveniently posted by Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.
  • I know I have no reason to be proud of this tweet — none — but I am.

March 12 pregame: Zack is back

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Kansas City Royals
By Jon Weisman

Zack Greinke makes his first exhibition game appearance since his four-pitch outing about two weeks ago. (Has it only been two weeks?)

Greinke is expected to pitch two innings.

Almost simultaneous to today’s game, Matt Kemp was playing in a minor-league intrasquad game at Camelback, including his first action in center field of the year.

Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Yasiel Puig, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
Chone Figgins, 3B
AJ Ellis, C
Dee Gordon, 2B
Zack Greinke, P
  • Scheduled to follow Greinke today on the mound are Zach Lee, J.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen, Chris Perez and Chris Withrow.
  • Adrian Gonzalez told Dylan Hernandez of the Times that he’s looking to take more walks in 2014.

    “I’ve done a decent job of it so far this spring,” he said. “I’ve walked three or four times and a lot of at-bats have gone deep into counts. There have been at-bats where I got frustrated because I walk and I’ll say, ‘I want to hit now,’ but then I’m like, ‘Stay with it.’ “

  • Chris St. John of Beyond the Box Score compiled a consensus ranking of the Dodgers’ top 65 prospects.

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