Dodger Thoughts

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

Page 177 of 365

Larry King to host Dodger show on SportsNet LA

Time Warner Cable Sports Headshots

By Jon Weisman

Longtime TV/radio host Larry King will take the helm of “Larry King At Bat,” where he will interview celebrities, baseball legends, Dodger personalities and other luminaries in a series of hour-long episodes on SportsNet LA.

The new series was announced tonight shortly after SportsNet LA launched with “Access SportsNet: Dodgers” and will premiere March 18 at 7 p.m., with Orel Hershiser as the interview subject.

“In addition to being a talented and renowned TV personality, Larry King is an incredible Dodger fan,” said Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten. “We are so excited to officially bring him into the Dodger family.”

Said King: “With my love of sports and my interviewing skills, I think it will be a happy combo.”

Spring Training photo stars, courtesy of Jon SooHoo

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

As the warmup period for Spring Training comes to a close and the Dodgers embark upon 21 games in the next 19 days before leaving for Australia, I thought this would be a good time to thank official Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo — whose blog you should be checking out daily — for serving as our eyes into Camelback Ranch.

I’d also like to pay tribute to just some of those Dodgers who have been among SooHoo’s best subjects in February, regularly cropping up in distinctive images. In alphabetical order:

  • Dee Gordon

Los Angeles Dodgers workout at Camelback Ranch-Glendale

  • Alex Guerrero

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

  • Sandy Koufax

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

  • Yasiel Puig

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

Here are the links to SooHoo’s photos since pitchers and catchers reported. Click over and let us know which are your favorite shots and subjects from Spring Training so far:

February 7
February 8
February 9
February 10
February 11
February 12
February 13
February 14
February 15
February 16
February 17
February 18
February 19
February 20
February 21
February 22
February 23
February 24
February 25

In case you missed it: Scrimmage sights and sounds

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By Jon Weisman

Some really great sights and sounds in the video above from the intrasquad game Sunday should whet your appetite for the imminent start of Cactus League play.

  • Are you ready for a starting lineup? Taking the field for the Dodgers on Wednesday will be the following (though there will be plenty of others coming off the bench):
    • Chone Figgins, SS
    • Carl Crawford, LF
    • Yasiel Puig, RF
    • Juan Uribe, 3B
    • Joc Pederson, CF
    • Scott Van Slyke, 1B
    • Tim Federowicz, C
    • Alex Guerrero, 2B
    • Justin Turner, DH
    • (Clayton Kershaw, P)
  • Wednesday’s Spring Training opener is previewed by Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.
  • Stephen also notes which former Dodgers accepted non-roster invitations around the Majors. Eugenio Velez is alive and well.
  • Yasiel Puig’s embrace of Australia has proved inspirational, as you can see below and here, here and here.
  • Don Drysdale is the latest stop in Ernest Reyes’ tour of the 1961 Union Oil Dodger Family Booklets at Blue Heaven.
  • MLB’s At Bat mobile app is entering its sixth year — Mark Newman of MLB.com writes about the state of the app.
  • As Ukraine takes center stage in world headlines, the country’s Crimea region will host a week-long baseball tournament and clinic for teams, players and umpires from Eastern European countries, March 23-28.  More details at Play Global.

Spring radio broadcast schedule announced

radioBy Jon Weisman

KLAC 570 AM will broadcast 15 Spring Training games for the Dodgers this year, with KTNQ 1020 AM doing eight games in Spanish.

The KLAC broadcasts will begin with Wednesday’s Spring Training opener and Thursday’s Spring Training home opener and also cover February 28 – March 2, March 5-9 (split-squad game on March 8 against Texas), March 12, March 16 and the Freeway Series games March 27-29.

KTNQ will have games February 26, March 1-2, March 8-9 (split-squad game March 8 against Seattle), March 15-16 and March 28.

Charley Steiner and Rick Monday will trade off on play-by play duties, with Monday and Garciaparra alternating as analysts.

For the full Spring Training radio schedule, see below:

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Video: Yasiel Puig is ready for Australia

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SportsNet LA launch: Here it comes …

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By Jon Weisman

The 24/7 Dodger network that is SportsNet LA will launch at 7 p.m. Tuesday with the premiere edition of “Access SportsNet: Dodgers,” then provide a mix of news, interviews and history leading up to its first live game telecast Wednesday at 12 noon.

Channel Numbers“Access SportNet: Dodgers,” a nightly studio show, will have a special introduction Tuesday by Vin Scully and first-night guests including Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Tommy Lasorda, Don Mattingly and Adrian Gonzalez. It will then be followed at 8:30 p.m. by the first episode of “Backstage: Dodgers,” the program that will regularly go behind the scenes to give you a full picture of the franchise.

At 9 p.m. will be back-to-back half-hour editions of “Connected With …,” featuring extended one-on-one interviews with Clayton Kershaw and Don Mattingly, respectively. Then at 10 p.m. will be the premiere of “2013 Dodgers: A Whole New Blue,” a review of last year’s playoff-filled campaign that will include never-before seen footage.

Wednesday’s Spring Training game, against Arizona at Talking Stick in Phoenix, will be the first of 22 broadcast live by SportsNet LA, presaging the network’s regular-season presentation of more than 140 live broadcasts. From 4-7 p.m., SportsNetLA will climax its first 24 hours of business with the debut edition of “Timeless Dodgers,” featuring the June 3 MLB debut of Yasiel Puig.

SportsNet LA will be available to Time Warner Cable customers in the Los Angeles area in high definition on channel 431 and standard definition on channel 249. In addition, it was announced today that Bright House Networks had signed on to carry SportsNet LA to its Bakersfield customers, on channel 1107 in HD and channels 21 and 107 in standard. Time Warner Cable is in negotiations with all other providers for carriage.

For more information about SportsNet LA or to demand the network, visit www.ineedmydodgers.com. Consult the FAQ at the site for more information. Follow the network on Twitter at @SportsNetLA, Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SportsNetLA and Instagram at @SportsNetLA.

In case you missed it: Happy birthday, Nancy Bea

By Jon Weisman

The offseason is getting closer and closer to an onseason …

  • The new rule limiting collisions at home plate is official. Details from Paul Hagen at MLB.com.
  • A.J. Ellis had an interesting reaction to the rule, as told to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

    … Ellis said if the rule change is motivated by the serious ankle injury Giants catcher Buster Posey suffered in a collision three years ago, self-regulation might be a better route to take.

    “Now it’s like rules protecting quarterbacks in the NFL — you want to keep your best players on the field,” he said. “But the Giants took steps by not having Buster involved in plays where his body is in harm’s way. In our organization, maybe I’m a little more expendable. That’s where my value to the team lies.” …

  • Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Library of Congress

    Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Library of Congress

    President Woodrow Wilson was a baseball fanatic as a child, according to official MLB historian John Thorn (via Baseball Think Factory):

    … Like the protagonist in Robert Coover’s 1968 novel The Universal Baseball Association, J. Henry Waugh, Prop., the 14-year-old Thomas Woodrow Wilson—known as Tommy—created a whole universe of players, statistics, and a pennant race, with or without the aid of dice. But unlike Waugh—who invented a table game using three dice, a “Stress Chart,” and an “Extraordinary Occurrences Chart”—the young Wilson did not create players or teams. He used only the cast of characters in the real-life National Association of 1871, which he surely read about in the sporting weeklies.

    And now, from deep in the archives of the Library of Congress, we have come upon Tommy Wilson’s complete handwritten record of that fantasy season. George Wright, Al Spalding, and Cap Anson cavort on an imaginary field, along with all the other worthies of that first year of professional league play. …

  • Here’s the annual reminder that Spring Training stats can be deceiving. This time, we’ll let Daniel Brim of Dodgers Digest do the honors.
  • Brim’s colleague Dustin Nosler offers his all-name team from the Dodger organization, starting with Pratt Maynard at catcher.
  • Non-roster catcher J.C. Boscan talked to J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News about his concerns about his native Venezuela.

    … He said that his parents run a restaurant in Maracaibo, a city in northwest Venezuela near the Colombian border. Since last year they have been deeply affected by the nationwide food shortage, which has been one of the main causes for protest.

    “They understand the protests,” Boscan said. “It gets tough for them when they try to get something for the restaurant and they can’t find it. …

  • The best kept secret at Camelback Ranch is the area with the back fields, writes Evan Bladh of Opinion of Kingman’s Performance.

Intrasquad Monday: 0-0, it’s magic

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

Day 2 of the Dodgers’ pair o’ pre-preseason intrasquad showdowns ended in a 0-0 tie at Camelback Ranch.

There was a big near-blow in today’s three-inning affair, but appropriately, it was for naught.

Chris Reed faced the minimum in his two innings of work, allowing one hit (to Pederson) while notching a double-play grounder from Carl Crawford and strikeouts of Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke. Dan Haren also pitched two shutout innings, while Paco Rodriguez and Jamey Wright each contributed a frame. Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Buss and J.C. Boscan (with a double) also had hits.

A couple of excerpts from Hoornstra’s notebook:

  • Gonzalez was picked off second base on an excellent throw by catcher Drew Butera.
  • The unofficial pitch count for Gordon’s first at-bat against Haren: 12. It was long. Gordon struck out on his final swing.

For more photos from today at Camelback, visit Jon SooHoo’s Photog Blog.

Dodgers win (and lose) but most importantly, win

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

What’s not to like about a Dodger intrasquad game? No matter what happens, you’re a winner.

Hyun Jin-Ryu allowed two home runs in the first inning today, his team never got the lead back — and the Dodgers still won.

Dee Gordon hit a leadoff homer off Ryu, and then Hanley Ramirez followed a Juan Uribe double with a two-run shot, as the Dodgers’ Team Wills, drafted by Matt Kemp, defeated the Zack Grienke-drafted Team Koufax, 3-1.

Matt Magill was the winning pitcher in the four-inning affair, with Brian Wilson striking out two in his inning of work. For closing it out, Chris Perez earned a save by my reckoning.

Scott Van Slyke had two hits to lead all platesmen, driving in Yasiel Puig (who doubled) with one of them.

Los Angeles Dodgers workoutMore details on the game are available from Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. and J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News. From Hoornstra:

… Gordon turned quickly on the second pitch he saw from Ryu and skied it over the right-field fence. “I got lucky,” Gordon said afterward. …

Hoornstra added that Alex Guerrero might have had the best defensive play of the game, “charging a ground ball to second base and throwing on the run, across his body, to retire Nick Buss.”

From Stephen:

… What stood out in the four-inning contest was how much fun the players were having, finally out on the field in a quasi-competitive setting, free from the shackles of pitching screens, batting cages, and even coaches. …

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Potential of fast return for Billingsley affected roster move

Los Angeles Dodgers workout at Camelback Ranch-Glendale
By Jon Weisman

When the Dodgers signed Erisbel Arruebarrena, they could have put Chad Billingsley on the 60-day disabled list and still had him ready to be active in mid-May.

That they chose instead to designate Justin Sellers for assignment was widely interpreted as a positive sign about how close Billingsley is to returning to action.

From Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.:

… “We’re not prepared yet to put a timetable exceeding 60 days for Chad,” said general manager Ned Colletti.

Billingsley threw another bullpen session on Saturday, and said his arm still feels as good as it did coming in to camp. He is still limited to throwing no faster than 85 mph, but those restrictions will likely be relaxed soon and Billingsley will be allowed to throw curve balls as early as next week. …

… He plans to begin a minor league rehab assignment once the season opens in early April. Even if he needs five minor league starts, that earmarks a major league return for Billingsley in early May, which explains why he wasn’t placed on the 60-day DL. …

When he does return, Billingsley would theoretically enter a starting pitcher mix that includes veterans Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm, as well as the members of an emerging prospect class. (Maholm, by the way, threw a bullpen session without discomfort today, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com).

In the meantime, now entering DFA limbo is Sellers, last year’s surprise Opening Day shortstop. Over the next 10 days, he could be traded, claimed on waivers or clear waivers and eventually return to the Dodger organization.

Dodgers officially sign Erisbel Arruebarrena

By Jon Weisman

Defensive infield whiz Erisbel Arruebarrena has inked a five-year contract with the Dodgers, becoming the latest Cuban expatriate to join the organization.

In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated infielder Justin Sellers for assignment. Sellers had a .278 on-base percentage and .301 slugging in 266 plate appearances with the Dodgers.

Arruebarrena, 23, was a teammate of  Yasiel Puig with Cienfuegos in 2010-11.

“We are excited to sign Erisbel, who we’ve scouted in international competition for a long time.” said Dodger vice president of international scouting Bob Engle. “He brings another superb glove to our organization.”

Added general manager Ned Colletti: “Signing Arruebarrena gives us another very good middle infielder, who is an outstanding defender. It continues our efforts internationally to add talent that can positively affect the Major League club – be it immediately or in the very near future.”

Arruebarrena’s last name is shorter than Todd Hollandsworth, 13 to 12, but his first and last together top the former Dodger Rookie of the Year, 19-16.

In case you missed it: 30 Dodger players traveling to Australia

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

Take heed: With this year’s trip to Australia, the Dodgers’ process for determining the regular season active roster is even more unusual than you might imagine, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

First, there’s this rather stunning comparison.

“The Dodgers will have only 19 days of Spring Training games to make nearly all of their decisions,” Gurnick writes. “Last spring, they played 36 games before Opening Day.”

But further confusing matters is that the Dodgers’ don’t actually have to settle where everyone beyond the 25-man roster has to go before Sydney.

… Even though the 25-man roster officially doesn’t need to be submitted until March 21 at 1 p.m. PT, the Dodgers and D-backs will break camp on March 16 and take a maximum of 30 players to Australia from which to draw their 25-man Opening Day rosters.

Players on the disabled list can be back-dated to March 19, but those decisions might be made before the flight west, if not announced.

From the 30 players who can make the flight across the Pacific Ocean, three will be designated as “exempt” before Opening Day and would otherwise be active, be they starting pitchers left behind, players out of options (like Javy Guerra or Drew Butera) or Rule 5 selections (like Seth Rosin). Corresponding moves would need to be made to make room for their activation.

The other two players on the trip will be “extras” that can be players on the 40-man roster with options, or Minor Leaguers.

From these five additional players, clubs must be covered by position for an injury, whether it occurs as a result of the exhibition game against Team Australia, or the regular-season opener, because it will be impossible to call up a player and transport him to Australia in time for the next game. So, the five spots are likely to include at least one catcher, one middle infielder, one outfielder and one reliever. …

Read more about it here. Elsewhere around the Dodgers …

  • Andre Ethier echoed Matt Kemp’s sentiments about no potential starting outfielder seeking out a spot on the bench. Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles adds context.

    … Ethier moved from right to center when Kemp got hurt last year, but before that he was entrenched in right field the previous four seasons. He said he’s willing to give the utility role a go if it helps the team.

    “I’ve done a lot personally and done a lot with this team and I think we’re still just missing one thing, [a World Series], so if it’s something that leads to that, let’s figure out a way to get it done,” Ethier said. …

  • Saxon quotes Don Mattingly on Yasiel Puig weighing in at about 25 pounds more than last year: “We don’t feel it’s going to be a problem, but we’re paying attention to it, put it that way,” Mattingly said.
  • There’s no urgency for Paul Maholm to be ready to pitch regular-season games before April, and given that he’s behind the other starters, as Gurnick notes, he could use the extra time.
  • Miguel Rojas’ wife flew out of strife-heavy Venezuela this morning, reports J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News.
  • Today’s guest star in Ernest Reyes’ series on the 1961 Union Oil Dodger Family Booklet series at Blue Heaven: Willie Davis.

Sandy Koufax hit by line drive at Camelback batting practice

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

The prognosis looks good for Sandy Koufax, who was hit in the left side of the forehead by an Andre Ethier drive during batting practice today at Camelback Ranch, but it sure had to come as a huge shock.

“Koufax had a cut but didn’t leave his feet,” reported Ken Gurnick at MLB.com. “He told pitching coach Rick Honeycutt he was OK, but a little dizzy. Koufax was taken by cart to the Minor League clubhouse to be examined, before returning to the Major League clubhouse 15 minutes later.

Update: More from Gurnick:

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The rarity of Dodger rookie regulars in April

Los Angeles Dodgers first full squad workout

By Jon Weisman

Just to show how unprecedented it would be for Alex Guerrero to step into the Dodger starting lineup at the beginning of the 2014 campaign, consider this:

In the eight previous seasons of the Ned Colletti era, no position player without previous MLB experience has been the Dodgers’ intended starter in March or April.

Since Colletti arrived, only three Dodgers have started more than 10 games before April 30 without previously playing in the Majors, and none was the first resort:

Blake DeWitt and James Loney in action at Game 1 of the 2008 National League Championship Series in Chicago. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2008)

Blake DeWitt and James Loney in action at Game 1 of the 2008 National League Championship Series in Chicago. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

James Loney, 2006: Loney made his debut on April 4 and started 10 games in a platoon with Olmedo Saenz while the Dodgers waited for Nomar Garciaparra to recover from a strained ribcage muscle suffered in the Freeway Series. Loney, who OPSed .595 in 44 plate appearances during this first taste of the Show, went to Triple-A once Garciaparra was activated April 22.

Blake DeWitt, 2008: DeWitt had but 45 games of experience above Single-A when he was thrust into the role of starter at third base, thanks to injuries not only to Garciaparra (wrist microfracture) but also Andy LaRoche (torn ulnar collateral ligament in right thumb) — both suffered in the same March 7 Spring Training game — as well as Tony Abreu. Nicknamed “The Solution,” DeWitt played regularly at third base with an OPS above .800 as he passed the 200-plate appearance mark in mid-June, before he slumped and was ultimately replaced by midseason acquisition Casey Blake. DeWitt remains the only Colletti-era Dodger to start the most games of anyone at his position in a given year (77) without having previously earned an MLB paycheck.

Jerry Sands, 2011: Sands slugged .529 for Double-A Chattanooga in 2010, but still began 2011 in the minors as predicted. He was called up April 18 to fill the roster spot of Xavier Paul, who was designated for assignment, and play some left field in a year the Dodgers began with Tony Gwynn Jr., Marcus Thames and Paul (with a sprinkle of Jamie Hoffmann). Sands played somewhat regularly into early June and ended up starting 53 games for Los Angeles in left field, right field and at first base.

Bringing up players in May has been a different story: Russell Martin, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are notable examples. But handing a position to a pure rookie before May Day just hasn’t been happening. Even Yasiel Puig, of course, waited until June last year.

While Guerrero isn’t a typical rookie, it would still be groundbreaking for him to serve as a regular for the Dodgers in March and April.

In case you missed it: Happy photo day

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

Who are those guys again?

  • Paul Maholm has been slowed for precautionary reasons by some elbow tenderness. He threw on flat ground today.

    … “I’m just being smart and understand what’s needed to prepare for the season,” Maholm told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “I only really missed one bullpen session today and I expect to throw a bullpen Saturday, and it won’t set me back.” …

  • Yasiel Puig was held out of action today after fouling a ball off his right leg yesterday. According to the Dodger press notes, Puig will not undergo any further testing at this time and is expected to be a full participant in tomorrow’s workout.

    … “There was a little swelling and we don’t see the need to have him limp around out there,” Don Mattingly told Gurnick. “We feel he’ll be back tomorrow.” …

  • Gurnick added that Zach Lee returned to the mound for a short bullpen session for the first time in 10 days after suffering a mild lat strain.
  • “Tim Federowicz was limited in workouts Tuesday after feeling tightness in his side during blocking drills,” writes Bill Plunkett of the Register in a notebook item. “He was back to full participation Wednesday.”
  • The Dodgers will play intrasquad games Sunday (with pitchers Matt Magill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Perez, Brian Wilson, Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell) and Monday (Stephen Fife, Dan Haren, Chris Reed, Paco Rodriguez and Jamey Wright) on the back fields of Camelback Ranch.
  • Miguel Rojas spoke to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles about his anxiety over political violence in his home of Venezuela. “Rojas’ wife lives 35 minutes from Caracas, the nation’s capital and the center of unrest,” Saxon writes. “Rojas said she scarcely leaves the house these days.” J.P. Hoornstra has more at the Daily News.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers workoutBrandon League talked about his 2013 season with Dylan Hernandez of the Times.

    … “It was not just one thing,” he said. “It was not just mechanical. It wasn’t just preparation. It was one thing one time, something else another time.” …

  • “Meanwhile, reliever Jose Dominguez tried out a new slider grip suggested by legendary lefty Sandy Koufax and reported improved downward break on the pitch,” reports Gurnick for MLB.com.
  • Non-roster catcher Miguel Olivo, looking for a career rebirth, is the subject of this Saxon piece for ESPN Los Angeles. The 35-year-old has 145 career home runs. Random note: Only two catchers have hit that many for the Dodgers, Roy Campanella and Mike Piazza. In fact, since making his MLB debut in 2002, Olivo has nearly outhomered everyone who has played catcher for the Dodgers in that time:
    • Russell Martin 53
    • A.J. Ellis 25
    • Paul Lo Duca 25
    • Rod Barajas 21
    • Dioner Navarro 10
    • Jason Phillips 7
    • Tim Federowicz 4
    • Ramon Hernandez 2
    • Chad Kreuter 2
    • Matt Treanor 2
    • Danny Ardoin 1
    • Brad Ausmus 1
    • Gary Bennett 1
    • Mike Rose 1
    • Total 155
  • Baseball America has released its top 100 prospects list. The Dodgers’ usual suspects are there: Joc Pederson (34), Corey Seager (37), Julio Urias (51 and the youngest player in the 100) and Zach Lee (95). Dustin Nosler sums up the spectrum of propsect lists at Dodgers Digest.
  • The Dodgers rank second behind St. Louis in Jonah Keri’s “Offseason Stock Report” for Grantland.
  • David Schoenfield of ESPN.com explains why he thinks the Dodgers are the biggest lock of any team to win their division.
  • Eastern Park, where the Brooklyn baseball team played from 1891-97, is the subject of this piece by Ernest Reyes at Blue Heaven.

    … Eastern Park is said to be the birthplace of the famous Dodger name.  It is believed that this is the stadium where the nickname “Trolley Dodgers” came about.  The trolley and rail lines, that were located directly to the east of the stadium, were a constant hazard to fans attending games.  Frankly, this last item was a surprise to me as I began my research on this stadium.  I had always thought that Ebbets Field was were it originated, but that appears to not be the case. …

  • Former Dodger pitcher Chris Capuano has reportedly agreed to terms on a deal with the Boston Red Sox. With more is Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.

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