Dodger Thoughts

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

Page 180 of 365

Dodger video page in midseason form

By Jon Weisman

The Dodger video crew is ensconced at Camelback Ranch and already dishing out videos like Roger Owens with the peanuts. Here are three samples from the weekend, leading off with Chad Billingsley talking about the progress of his recovery from surgery, as well as Dan Haren, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Don Mattingly and more.

You can always check dodgers.com/video for more visual reports on the Dodgers.

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In case you missed it: Scott Elbert coming back from appendectomy

By Jon Weisman

Excuse Scott Elbert if he thinks the knives are out for him …

  • Elbert had an appendectomy January 28, putting a pause in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, but he is expected to resume throwing this week, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has more. Elbert was placed on the 60-day disabled list Saturday after Paul Maholm was signed but still hopes for a midseason return.
  • The Dodgers got “great value” in Maholm, compared with other recent free-agent signings, writes Justin Millar of MLB Daily Dish.
  • Sons of Steve Garvey passes along screen captures of Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett from the 1961 movie “Bachelor in Paradise.” A year ago, Emma Amaya of Crazy Blue World catalogued several Scully film appearances.
  • World Series hero Kirk Gibson thought he was destined for the NFL while he was at Michigan State, writes Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic  (via Baseball Think Factory).

    “I would’ve been a top-five pick,” said Gibson, an All-American wide receiver at Michigan State. “I was big, fast and I caught everything.”

How does Paul Maholm’s arrival affect the Dodger roster?

By Jon Weisman

We don’t know what Dodger newcomer Paul Maholm’s role with the team will be after signing Saturday or whose roster spot he might take, mainly because the Dodgers don’t know yet themselves.

“Paul is aware we’re not sure what our need will be, whether it will be as a starting pitcher, a reliever or a long man,” general manager Ned Colletti told Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. “Paul said it doesn’t matter, just to let him know and he’ll prepare for whatever we need him to do.”

Dylan Hernandez of the Times added the following:

… Maholm noted that he pitched in relief only once in his previous nine seasons and made clear he intends to win a place in the rotation.

“I’m going to come in and compete,” Maholm said. “If I pitch well, then things will work out.” …

In the meantime, we can mull over the possibilities.

Maholm could be a starting pitcher, if anyone from the group consisting of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren and Josh Beckett falters. Beckett, recovering from July surgery that removed a rib to address thoracic outlet syndrome, is the one who seems most vulnerable, but it’s hardly time to give up on him being with the team for the season opener March 22.

Should Maholm start the season in the bullpen – a distinct possibility whether he’s the fifth starter or a starter-in-reserve, given that the Dodgers don’t play five regular-season games on consecutive days until April 15-19 – he joins a group that was already overflowing. Kenley Jansen, Brian Wilson, Paco Rodriguez, J.P Howell, Brandon League, Chris Withrow, Chris Perez and Jamey Wright already give the Dodgers more than enough legitimate contenders for a relief corps that typically would max out at seven. (That doesn’t even begin to address names not limited to Stephen Fife, Seth Rosin, Javy Guerra and Jose Dominguez.)

In a sense, you figure that the Dodgers are counting on at least one of the pitchers we’ve mentioned to be injured come Opening Day, and based on past history, who can blame them? If the Dodgers get their pre-flight notification for Sydney with more than a dozen healthy major-league pitchers, it’s a problem they’ll be happy to deal with.

A less obvious question: Would an arms surplus affect the composition of the Dodger bench? Standing in contrast to a pitching staff brimming with guaranteed contracts is a group of reserves whose MLB futures aren’t as set in stone.

Let’s say, hypothetically, Matt Kemp doesn’t make the trip to Australia, as has been frequently speculated, but Alex Guerrero does start at second base. You’d have a backup catcher such as Tim Federowicz, a good chance of outfielder/first baseman Scott Van Slyke, two or three names from the assortment of middle-infield candidates (including Dee Gordon, Chone Figgins, Justins Sellers and Turner, Miguel Rojas and Brendan Harris), maybe a Mike Baxter or Nick Buss.

Especially if they try to limit the starting pitcher workloads in light of the early launch to the 2014 season, would the Dodgers choose a 13th healthy pitcher over a 13th position player to complete the first group of 25? I’m not advocating it or counting on it, just saying that stranger things have happened. And then, of course, things can and will change again in a moment thereafter.

The 2014 Dodger publications tease

By Jon Weisman

I just need to tell you all that the stuff we’re working on for the publications side, I think you’re really, really going to want. This one thing that I’m staying up to work on tonight, in particular, I just don’t think you’re going to be able to do without.

I wouldn’t exactly call this our formal marketing pitch for 2014. But I just wanted to warn you. The train’s coming.

Dodgers sign Paul Maholm

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On the same day we received a nice progress report on Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers have added to their starting pitching depth with the signing of 31-year-old lefty Paul Maholm.

Maholm has pitched eight seasons plus the six starts he made in late 2005, with his best season coming in 2012, when he had a 3.67 ERA (111 ERA+) and 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 189 innings split between the Pirates and Cubs.

Last year with the Braves, Maholm had a 4.41 ERA (88 ERA+) and a 6.2 K/9. He had the biggest home-road differential in MLB last year: 2.37 ERA in Atlanta, 5.91 ERA elsewhere.

Where have you heard Maholm’s name recently? Remember when Carlos Gomez of Milwaukee and Atlanta’s Brian McCann got into it in late September? Maholm was on the mound when that started.

Scott Elbert, also recovering from surgery, was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Maholm on the active roster.

In case you missed it: Billingsley recovering so fast, he needs to slow down

Chad Billingsley meets reporters today. More from Jon SooHoo here.

Chad Billingsley meets reporters today. More from Jon SooHoo here.

By Jon Weisman

Chad Billingsley is progressing so well in his recovery from Tommy John surgery that he needs to make an effort to pace himself, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

… “My arm hasn’t felt this good in a few years. I feel like I have a whole new arm,” Billingsley said on reporting day for Spring Training. “They keep telling me, don’t throw 95 [mph] yet.”

“I think this is the dangerous time for him,” said manager Don Mattingly. “He’s going out there with the other guys and he can’t go to another level, trying to keep up with the Joneses.”

Billingsley said he’s thrown off a mound nine times, tossing only semi-fastballs in the low 80s (mph), and was up to 36 pitches on Friday. He speculated that he might add curveballs by the end of the month, then throw to live hitters in March. He hopes to move on to game situations by the end of March.

That would seem to put Billingsley ahead of the projected return of late May or June.

“Nobody knows when I can come back,” he said. “I just continue one week at a time.” …

More in Gurnick’s notebook, which also discusses the Dodgers’ fears about how they will do post-Australia. (Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. takes up this topic as well.)

And elsewhere, A.J. Ellis has cut Cracker Barrel breakfasts out of his diet as part of his attempt to get in better shape for the long haul, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Times.

Why Spring Training records don’t matter: Exhibit 2013

By Jon Weisman

Do you remember the Dodgers’ record during Spring Training in 2013?

If not, it might be because you repressed it. At 13-20, the Dodgers were near the bottom of the Cactus League and the worst of any National League team.

Something to keep in your back pocket as we begin the long walk along the grass toward the regular season. Happy Spring Training, everyone. Relax and enjoy yourselves.

In case you missed it: Mudball

Mud parkBy Jon Weisman

Transitioning from hockey to baseball, the Dodger Stadium field was in the midst of a rain-soaked rebirth Thursday.

Elsewhere …

  • Vin Scully shared his thoughts about baseball legend Ralph Kiner, who passed away Thursday at 91, with SNY.

    “He hit the highest home runs I’ve ever seen,” Scully said. “When you’d go to Pittsburgh back in the early 50s, the broadcast booth was in the second deck, and they would clean out the blast furnaces around 9:30. And all of a sudden there would be a great haze over the ballpark, and Kiner would actually hit home runs that would go up through the haze and then go back down and disappear. The height of his home runs is something I have always marveled about.”

  • Joe Posnanski offers his own appreciation of Kiner at Hardball Talk, as does Mike Oz at Big League Stew and Megdal at Sports on Earth. Bruce Weber has the obituary for the New York Times. If you’re young and/or from the West Coast, take the time to take in Kiner’s storied life.
  • The Dodgers come in at No. 5 overall (and first in the National League West) in David Schoenfield’s pre-Spring Training rankings for ESPN.com’s Sweet Spot. St. Louis grabbed the top spot in the majors.
  • The Dodgers rank even higher on Matthew Pouliot’s evaluations of starting pitching and bullpens for Hardball Talk.
  • Dustin Nosler of Dodgers Digest offers his evaluation of who has the best tools in the Dodger farm system.
  • David Golebiewski uses graphics to illustrate Yasiel Puig’s progress with plate discipline in 2013 at Gammons Daily. “The gains he made in controlling the strike zone figure to carry over into next year and beyond, as changes in a hitter’s swing rate take on meaning after about 50 plate appearances,” Golebiewski writes.
  • The Baseball Reliquary will host a panel discussion on Los Angeles baseball history March 29 in Arcadia. Former Dodger announcer Ross Porter will be part of the panel. Roberto Baly has more details at Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • Briefly-a-Dodger-reliever Carlos Marmol has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Miami, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com.

Dodgers have MLB’s best promo items, says Sports on Earth

LAD 2014 Clayton Kershaw Bobblehead (Time Warner Cable)By Jon Weisman

Today at Sports on Earth, Howard Megdal ranked the top 10 promotions at MLB ballparks in 2014. Not only did the Dodgers grab the top two spots, but Megdal couldn’t even pick only one promo item for each spot.

2. (TIE) Dodgers May Promotions. I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the team spending the most money on players, which saw a huge surge in attendance, is also offering the finest promotional items. After all, which sponsors are willing to pay to be included in the promo mix is dictated by how much their company will be seen. The April 6 Yasiel Puig Fathead looks pretty sweet. So does the classic April 8 zip-up sweatshirt. There’s a fleece blanket, a Clayton Kershaw bobblehead, and a Hanley Ramirez replica jersey, all before April is over.

But the second-best promotion is a tie between a pair of giveaways over three days in May. On May 8, the Dodgers will be giving away an inflatable chair. Now, I haven’t seen it. But let’s just take a step back and consider: You will walk into Dodger Stadium, and you will walk out with actual furniture. Then, on May 11, comes a Mother’s Day Clutch. Both Rachel and Mirabelle loved this item, not just because of the fact of it, but because it is awfully pleasing to the eye. Neither one is a Dodger fan, but, as Mirabelle explained matter-of-factly, “It’s just pretty!” …

Click on Megdal’s article to see what he put in the top spot. And you can see the Dodgers’ full 2014 promotional schedule here.

In case you missed it: Vin at the desk

By Jon Weisman

Links for a Thursday …

  • Ken Gurnick has a Spring Training preview for the Dodgers at MLB.com.
  • While Gurnick looks ahead to the 2014 Dodgers, Lyle Spencer of MLB.com looks back at the 1963 Dodgers. “Managed by Walter Alston, the Dodgers overcame a sluggish start to win the National League pennant and surgically sweep the vaunted New York Yankees in a stunning World Series,” Spencer writes. “They did it with a predominantly black lineup, the first time that had happened.”
  • Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com explores the possibility of Hyun-Jin Ryu having a sophomore slump, a topic that Chad Moriyama takes up at Dodgers Digest.
  • Is the most iconic moment in Dodger history the Kirk Gibson home run? The Sporting News thinks so, and the only argument that I can really think of would involve Jackie Robinson.
  • Robinson expresses his views on why baseball is popular in this letter, available on auction and discussed by Ernest Reyes at Blue Heaven.
  • The Derrel Thomas Foundation is presenting the second annual Positive Image Awards at a dinner February 20. Roberto Baly at Vin Scully Is My Homeboy has more.
  • Remember Koyie Hill? The one-time Dodger farmhand, a decade removed from the franchise, is still kicking and signed a minor-league contract with Washington. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors has details.
  • Joe Sheehan imagines what baseball would be like with a one-game World Series that resembles the Super Bowl and doesn’t like what he sees.
  • You shouldn’t take recovery from Tommy John surgery for granted, writes Jeff Sullivan for Fangraphs — providing several examples of why.
  • This Parks and Recreation-Dodgers mashup from @akaTheConman appeals to two of my great loves.

Dodger owners Mark Walter, Magic Johnson lead purchase of WNBA’s Sparks

Screen shot 2014-02-05 at 8.58.31 PMBy Jon Weisman

An investment group led by Dodgers controlling owner Mark R. Walter and co-owners Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Todd L. Boehly, Robert L. Patton and Stan Kasten is purchasing the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, who will continue to play at Staples Center.

“I love basketball and I love women’s basketball, so this was really simple and easy for Mark and I,” Johnson said at a press conference today. “It’s funny – we were on a plane and we turned to each other and said, ‘Let’s buy the Sparks.’ I said, ‘OK, let’s go do it.’ And so here we are.”

Said Walter in a statement: “Earvin came to me and said we need to help save the Sparks and keep them in Los Angeles. The decision was quite easy for our investment group due to the passion Magic has for this city, these great athletes and our phenomenal fans. This team and its great players should remain a part of the sports fabric of this wonderful city.”

One of the league’s original eight teams, the Sparks won the WNBA championship in 2001 and 2002, and is the last team to have earned titles in consecutive seasons. Los Angeles advanced to the Western Conference Finals in three of the past six seasons, most recently in 2012. WNBA All-Stars Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver lead the squad.

The Sparks “have been in limbo since Christmas when their previous owner, Paula Madison, abruptly told the league and Sparks coaches and employees that her company could no longer operate the team,” Ramona Shelburne wrote for ESPN.com.

In the press conference, Johnson said that the new owners believe the Sparks can be profitable, reports Melissa Rohlin of the Times. .

“We know what we’re up against and that’s OK,” Johnson said. “We love challenges. We feel, yes, we’re going to eventually make a profit, no question about it. That’s why we’re in business, to make a profit. … We want to increase the fan experience because that’s what we did for the Dodgers, that’s why we’re No. 1 in MLB in attendance.”

 

Dodgers add Justin Turner to mix

Justin TurnerBy Jon Weisman

The Dodgers just signed this guy over here in the top hat.

Justin Turner has inked a minor-league contract with the Dodgers that comes with an invite to Major League camp. The 29-year-old has played all four infield positions in his five-year MLB career, mostly at second and third, most recently producing a .319 on-base percentage and .385 slugging in 214 plate appearances last year with the Mets.

Turner joins a group including Dee Gordon, Justin Sellers, Miguel Rojas, Brendan Harris and Chone Figgins vying for time in support of the 2014 Dodger infield.

Note: The photo was not taken today.

Can Dodgers improve batting with runners on in 2014?

Carl Crawford congratulates Adrian Gonzalez at home plate in a game at San Diego on April 11. (Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers,LLC 2013)

Carl Crawford congratulates Adrian Gonzalez at home plate in San Diego on April 11. (Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers, LLC 2013)

By Jon Weisman

You don’t even need to look at the numbers, do you? The Dodgers, even as they went all the way to the National League Championship Series in 2013, didn’t hit enough with men on base, right?

Well, maybe we should look at the numbers anyway. Because they’re kind of interesting.

Dodgers with men on base, 2013
(ordered by plate appearances)

Rk PA ▾ HR BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Adrian Gonzalez 312 11 .308 .362 .491 .853
2 Andre Ethier 266 4 .243 .357 .356 .713
3 A.J. Ellis 232 5 .247 .320 .354 .674
4 Mark Ellis 209 4 .295 .340 .421 .761
5 Juan Uribe 195 6 .280 .328 .463 .791
6 Yasiel Puig 174 5 .259 .356 .395 .751
7 Carl Crawford 169 1 .272 .337 .338 .675
8 Skip Schumaker 165 2 .278 .354 .354 .708
9 Hanley Ramirez 149 10 .351 .416 .679 1.095
10 Matt Kemp 145 2 .246 .303 .346 .650
11 Nick Punto 134 0 .280 .320 .364 .685
12 Jerry Hairston 106 1 .217 .272 .283 .554
13 Tim Federowicz 86 2 .203 .286 .351 .637
14 Scott Van Slyke 76 1 .210 .329 .339 .668
15 Luis Cruz 67 1 .150 .200 .233 .433
Team Total 2805 55 .257 .325 .383 .708

Collectively, the Dodgers had a .325 on-base percentage with men on base, nearly identical to their overall 2013 OBP of .326. And of the nine players who came up the most in those situations, none had a lower OBP than .320.

Key RBI guys like Adrian Gonzalez (.362), Andre Ethier (.357) and, holy cow, Hanley Ramirez (.416) kept coming through time and again, either driving in runs or extending innings. Matt Kemp, by contrast, was disappointing at .303, but we’re going to talk more about him in a minute.

Where the Dodgers showed more of a dip was in their slugging percentage – .383 with runners on base, compared to .396 overall in the season. The difference was more pronounced with runners in scoring position.

Dodgers with RISP
(ordered by plate appearances)

Rk PA ▾ HR BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Adrian Gonzalez 188 7 .323 .378 .532 .909
2 Andre Ethier 156 2 .228 .372 .325 .697
3 A.J. Ellis 135 2 .255 .333 .345 .679
4 Mark Ellis 124 2 .282 .336 .388 .724
5 Skip Schumaker 110 2 .268 .336 .351 .687
6 Juan Uribe 105 2 .278 .340 .433 .773
7 Carl Crawford 103 1 .289 .359 .356 .715
8 Yasiel Puig 99 4 .234 .374 .416 .789
9 Matt Kemp 87 0 .230 .310 .270 .581
10 Hanley Ramirez 83 7 .368 .458 .779 1.237
11 Nick Punto 67 0 .246 .297 .351 .648
12 Jerry Hairston 63 0 .236 .274 .236 .511
13 Tim Federowicz 51 0 .122 .245 .171 .416
14 Scott Van Slyke 43 0 .229 .326 .314 .640
15 Luis Cruz 42 0 .128 .146 .154 .300
Team Total 1639 29 .252 .330 .367 .697

If the Dodgers were swinging for the fences with runners in scoring position, the stats show they weren’t connecting. Their slugging percentage dipped 7 percent compared with their overall 2013 performance. On the other hand, their OBP inched up, with the eight guys most frequently batting with RISP doing their part to drive in runs or at least extend innings. And again, Hanley – wow.

In general, given the sample sizes at play and the variables in terms of situation, I’m not sure how significant these differences are. You’d expect pitchers to be more vulnerable with runners on base, if only because vulnerable pitchers tend to put more runners on base. But pitchers being more careful with runners on could also play a role.

Which leads me to latest favorite stat: In 2013, Clayton Kershaw allowed five extra-base hits with runners in scoring position all year.

Keep all this in mind as I present the Dodgers’ performance with the bases loaded in 2013. The sample size shrinks … and the offense shrinks even more.

Dodgers with bases loaded, 2013
(ordered by plate appearances)

Rk PA ▾ HR BA OBP SLG OPS
1 A.J. Ellis 17 0 .143 .176 .214 .391
2 Mark Ellis 14 0 .417 .357 .417 .774
3 Juan Uribe 14 0 .154 .143 .385 .527
4 Skip Schumaker 14 0 .071 .071 .071 .143
5 Adrian Gonzalez 10 0 .375 .300 .500 .800
6 Carl Crawford 10 0 .333 .300 .444 .744
7 Andre Ethier 9 0 .143 .222 .286 .508
8 Matt Kemp 9 0 .125 .111 .125 .236
9 Tim Federowicz 8 0 .143 .125 .286 .411
10 Clayton Kershaw 8 0 .125 .125 .125 .250
11 Scott Van Slyke 8 0 .000 .125 .000 .125
12 Nick Punto 7 0 .200 .429 .200 .629
13 Yasiel Puig 6 1 .400 .500 1.000 1.500
14 Luis Cruz 5 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
15 Jerry Hairston 4 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Team Total 156 1 .190 .205 .270 .475

Those numbers … well, they are numbers. I’ll give them that. The Dodgers were last in the NL in batting with the bases loaded, by a wide margin. Coming in at 15th was Pittsburgh, with a .591 OPS.

How wildly inconsistent are they from hitter to hitter? No one on that list has a batting average between .200 and .300.

Also, do you see who isn’t on the list? Our friend Mr. Ramirez, whose total number of plate appearances with the bases loaded in 2013 was … one. (He got out.)

Once more, I’d offer that the quantity of plate appearances is too small to derive too much into the Dodgers’ bases-loaded performance, but we can say this: If you’re looking for a way the Dodgers can improve in 2014, look no farther.

I promised to circle back to Matt Kemp, and circle back we shall. Kemp, as you might have noticed, struggled in all of these situations, yet another reason his 2013 was so frustrating. But is it possible that we’ve got this backward – that his frustrations were the reason he struggled with men on base?

Look at how Kemp did in previous seasons:

Matt Kemp with men on base

I Year PA HR BA OBP SLG OPS
2006 85 4 .295 .318 .513 .830
2007 144 4 .373 .396 .560 .956
2008 296 6 .282 .342 .417 .760
2009 321 13 .279 .336 .463 .800
2010 324 15 .238 .299 .462 .761
2011 347 21 .344 .424 .626 1.049
2012 204 14 .331 .412 .651 1.063
2013 145 2 .246 .303 .346 .650
Career Total 1866 79 .295 .357 .505 .862

Matt Kemp with RISP

I Year PA HR BA OBP SLG OPS
2006 50 3 .273 .300 .523 .823
2007 85 2 .333 .353 .500 .853
2008 168 3 .268 .359 .394 .754
2009 190 9 .279 .342 .485 .827
2010 193 8 .225 .311 .456 .767
2011 200 13 .335 .450 .652 1.102
2012 107 5 .292 .383 .551 .934
2013 87 0 .230 .310 .270 .581
Career Total 1080 43 .279 .360 .486 .846

Matt Kemp with bases loaded

I Year PA HR BA OBP SLG OPS
2006 7 0 .167 .143 .167 .310
2007 10 0 .000 .100 .000 .100
2008 18 1 .250 .222 .500 .722
2009 19 3 .313 .316 .938 1.253
2010 15 1 .300 .333 .600 .933
2011 10 1 .571 .500 1.000 1.500
2012 9 0 .250 .222 .250 .472
2013 9 0 .125 .111 .125 .236
Career Total 97 6 .250 .258 .500 .758

Historically, Kemp has been good to great with runners on base, before falling off a cliff in 2013. (Weird stat No. 2: Kemp had more grand slams in 2009 than hits with the bases loaded in 2013). A healthier Kemp obviously makes the Dodgers a better team; this is but one example of the difference he might make.

The big question I have is how much control players really have over their performance with runners on base. In a conversation for the season preview story of the upcoming Dodgers’ March magazine (which you all are going to want to get), Dodger manager Don Mattingly shared his thoughts.

“You put an emphasis on it in Spring Training,” Mattingly said. “You continue to put guys in situations in camp and work on things. … Everyone tries to drive that run in, and a lot of times they do it really fast. Sometimes it’s just being willing to let the next guy do it, because they may not be willing to pitch to (you). So if they’re not going to give you anything to do it with … you’ve got to be willing to pass the baton and trust your teammate.”

Easier said than done? No doubt. But even though their performance with runners on base might be better than you realized — and certainly improved when they heated up in the summer — it remains something the Dodgers will think about.

Vin Scully to call Spring Training opener for SportsNet LA

Vin Scully is flanked by the Dodgers' Martin Kim and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Vin Scully is flanked by the Dodgers’ Martin Kim and Hyun-Jin Ryu at FanFest.

By Jon Weisman

Vin Scully will call the Dodgers’ Spring Training opener February 26, the first of 19 consecutive days of exhibition game broadcasts for SportsNet LA after it launches February 25, leading up to the Dodgers’ departure for Australia.

The first Spring Training broadcast, one of four that Scully will call before the Dodgers play the Diamondbacks in Sydney, will begin at 12 noon Pacific. Scully will also do games on February 27, March 9 and March 16.

SportsNet LA will broadcast every Dodger Spring Training game, except when it broadcasts one of two split-squad games on March 8 and March 15. Counting the three games against the Angels on March 27-29, SportsNet LA will air 22 Spring Training games in all.

Glenn Diamond, a five-time Emmy winner and 31-year veteran in the business, including postseason experience with TBS, will produce the game broadcasts.

SportsNet LA also will launch hour-long live nightly show “Access SportsNet: Dodgers,” which will air at 7 p.m. Pacific during Spring Training. John Hartung will host the program, which will also feature Charley Steiner, Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciappara, Jerry Hairston and Alana Rizzo. “Access SportsNet: Dodgers” plans to deliver comprehensive coverage of the team, showcasing the behind-the-scenes access of the new network.

The insider’s guide to Spring Training at Camelback Ranch

JS5G9405By Matt Slatus

Now that the Super Bowl is firmly in our rear-view mirror, all signs point ahead to Spring Training, which begins with Dodgers pitchers and catchers reporting to Camelback Ranch-Glendale (CR-G) this weekend. It’s hard to believe the 2014 season is here.

If you’ve never been to CR-G, the Spring Training home the club shares with the Chicago White Sox, you’re missing out. Imagine a modernized version of Dodgertown, where the boys in blue mix with desert-inspired landscaping, views of the gorgeous Arizona mountains lurk in the background and the best ticket can be had for only $44. It’s almost too good to be true.

Nestled on 141 acres of Sonoran Desert-inspired landscape, CR-G features 13 full-size practice fields — six of which are used exclusively by the Dodgers — a five-acre lake fully stocked with fish, and picturesque walking trails that lead from the parking lots to the main stadium.

A visit to Spring Training is a baseball experience like none other. Here are a few insider tips to make your Spring Training experience memorable:

  1. Arrive early: The Dodger practice fields open at 9 a.m. each day, beginning Sunday. Catch Kershaw, Greinke and the rest of the Dodgers’ pitchers-and-catchers workout, then see it expand for the first full-squad workout on February 14. Workouts are open to the public and are entirely free.
  2. Autographs: Players love to sign autographs during Spring Training. There are two great spots for trying to get autographs. First, head along the practice fields as players move from workout to workout. (Tommy Lasorda has been known to sign autographs for visiting fans as well.) Once games move into the main stadium, fans can line the third-base line as Dodgers players enter the field from the left-field corner prior to the game.
  3. Buy tickets early and save: Tickets to weekend games are already selling quickly. If you’re thinking about visiting Arizona over a weekend in March, purchase tickets online at dodgers.com/spring. You’ll save $3 per ticket off the day-of-game price, and you won’t have to worry about waiting in long lines at the stadium.
  4. Book your hotel in advance: March is a very busy time in Phoenix. On top of 15 Major League clubs training, there’s a NASCAR race, an air show and beautiful weather. Try to book your hotel reservations as soon as possible.
  5. Bonus baseball in ’14: Following Dodger workouts on February 14, 15 and 16, stay for college baseball inside the main stadium. The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers square off against the Northern Illinois Huskies each day at 1:00 p.m. Enter via the main stadium gates. No ticket is necessary.

We’ll fill you in with more information on special promotions and exciting Spring Training news over the next few weeks. In the meantime, Spring Training is near … it’s almost time for Dodger baseball!

Matt Slatus is marketing director for Camelback Ranch-Glendale.

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