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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.