Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Brandon McCarthy (Page 3 of 4)

Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia clinch spots on 25-man roster

Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez in October 2015. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez in October 2015. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Angels at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kiké Hernandez, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Carl Crawford, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Corey Seager, SS
Kenta Maeda, P

By Jon Weisman

Ross Stripling has been named the Dodgers’ No. 5 starter and will take the mound April 8 at San Francisco, Dave Roberts announced, adding that Carlos Frias will be optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

We’ll have more on Stripling shortly in a separate post. In the meantime, here are some more news and notes …

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In case you missed it: Tale of two Uriases

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Julio Urias

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Spirits soared with Julio Urias’ first inning on a Cactus League mound this year, before his second inning reminded us of his youth.

Taking the mound in the seventh inning today against the Angels, Urias struck out the side — before allowing a single, double, triple and walk to the four batters he faced in the eighth inning of what became an 8-4 Dodger loss, recapped by

Urias told AM 570 Dodger Talk’s David Vassegh that he struggled with his fastball command in his second inning of work. Hopefully, it wasn’t from his coffee run earlier today.

The Dodgers lost despite holding the Angels hitless from the second through seventh innings. Zach Lee gave up three hits in the first inning, including a three-run homer, but then faced the minimum over the next two innings. Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Pedro Baez and Louis Coleman each pitched an inning of hitless ball. They were helped by Charlie Culberson, who made two outstanding plays at shortstop today.

What else have we got?

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In case you missed it: Sandy salute

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

Though the legendary Sandy Koufax no longer has a formal role with the Dodgers, as Ken Gurnick of writes, that doesn’t mean he can’t stop by Camelback Ranch for a nice hello.

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In case you missed it: Putting the sock back in Joc

By Jon Weisman

The full Dodger squad, minus newly signed Yaisel Sierra, fell into place on what appeared to be a beautiful day a Camelback Ranch. Here’s the latest news and notes …

  • There’s few Spring Training pieces more timely than a systematic look at what went wrong for Joc Pederson in the second half of 2015. Bill Plunkett of the Register talked to Pederson and several people within the Dodger organization for his story.
  • Chase Utley’s hard edge as a competitor doesn’t leave much room for friendships with rivals, but when he’s on your side, there are few better, according to this profile by Andy McCullough of the Times. “I went from being scared to death of him,” A.J. Ellis said, “to loving being his teammate.”

Greg Maddux helping me play sports. Via @jon.soohoo

A post shared by Brett Anderson (@brettanderson46) on

  • New special assistant to president of baseball operations Greg Maddux is spending all of Spring Training at Camelback, writes Ken Gurnick of Before taking that position, Maddux received an inquiry from his former Braves colleague, Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten, about whether he might want to be part of the Dodger managerial search last fall.
  • Eric Gagne is also at Camelback as a guest instrutor, notes Gurnick.
  • The Dodgers said it earlier this winter, after the trade with the Reds and White Sox that did not bring Todd Frazier to Los Angeles, but today it was reiterated by Dave Roberts that the team plans for Justin Turner to remain at third base and Corey Seager at shortstop in 2016, rather than moving around the diamond. Kiké Hernandez is currently the backup shortstop.
  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has a humorous recap of Brandon McCarthy’s throwing session today.
  • MLB is hosting an its annual Honorary Bat Girl Contest, “which will recognize one fan from each MLB club who has been affected by breast cancer and has demonstrated a commitment to battling the disease.” Dodger pitcher Scott Kazmir will be one of the guest judges. Entries are being taken through April 14. Click for more details.
  • How does the Dodger video production team set up shop at Camelback? Very quickly, and with lots of hashtags …

In case you missed it: Pitchers and catchers and avocados, oh my

Los Angeles Dodgers reporting day for pitchers and catchers

For more photos from today, visit the Dodgers Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

Hey! It’s that day!

With today’s “pitchers and catchers reporting” day arriving, it’s time to bring back our regular roundup of relevant news on the Dodgers and baseball. Here’s what’s percolating on the Camelback campus …

  • Hyun-Jin Ryu, pictured above with Kenta Maeda, had a 35-pitch bullpen session Thursday. He is expected to pitch in the Cactus League but is not being rushed to be ready for the opening of the regular season, wrote Andy McCullough of the Times in his roundup.
  • Maeda, who met with a gaggle of reporters this morning, has thrown two bullpen sessions already and all is normal, according to Bill Plunkett of the Register.
  • Yasmani Grandal is under no limitations now that his left shoulder has healed from surgery, according to Ken Gurnick of
  • Andre Ethier’s jersey is being retired by Arizona State tonight. Ethier and his wife Maggie were both already inducted into the Sun Devil Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.
  • Frankie Montas’ stress fracture in rib “was less severe than thoracic outlet syndrome,” notes Alanna Rizzo of SportsNet LA. Montas broached it with Dodger trainers last month after it persisted, Rizzo said.
  • On a brighter side, Rizzo added that Justin Turner has “hit every checkpoint” in his recovery from microfracture surgery.
  • Trayce Thompson watched his brother Klay at the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, then went to Arizona on Monday, according to Doug Padilla of ESPN(Update: Padilla has more on Grandal here.)
  • Fellow White Sox emigré Micah Johnson needed a few stitches after cutting his hand while slicing an avocado, and will need a few days to heal, reported Plunkett. For his part, Johnson tweeted that he had “the last laugh.”
  • Andrew Friedman has taken to calling Dave Roberts “Doc,” according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. For you trivia buffs, the new Doc Roberts was born almost exactly 75 years after “Fiddlin'” Doc Roberts.
  • The Uribear, Juan Uribe, has agreed to a one-year contract with the Indians.
  • Tony Phillips, who seemed perpetually underrated to me, has passed away all too soon at age 56, as chronicled by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • And one more item from Thursday: Brandon McCarthy took Clayton Kershaw to task for misunderstanding the fundamentals of offseason training. But it’s possible there’s been a misunderstanding …

Ex-Royal Louis Coleman joins bullpen brigade

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

By Jon Weisman

Right-handed reliever Louis Coleman has signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers.

The 6-foot-4 Coleman, who turns 30 on Opening Day, is joining his first new organization since being drafted by the Royals in the fifth round in 2009 out of Louisiana State. He made his MLB debut in 2011, striking out 64 in 59 2/3 innings, and two years later had a 0.61 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 29 2/3 innings.

Though Coleman’s WHIP basically doubled in 2014, and he pitched only three big-league innings in 2015, he did have a 1.69 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 64 innings for Triple-A Omaha last season.

Coleman joins a group of righty relievers on the 40-man roster that includes Pedro Baez, Joe Blanton, Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher, Kenley Jansen and Josh Ravin.

The Dodgers placed LSU fan Brandon McCarthy on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Coleman. McCarthy has been expected to complete his recovery from Tommy John surgery by midseason.

Neil Rampe to lead Dodger training staff

Neil Rampe 2016 011316js106

Neil Rampe (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Neil Rampe, who has been the Arizona Diamondbacks’ manual and performance therapist since 2008, has been officially announced as the Dodgers’ new athletic trainer, replacing former vice president of medical services Stan Conte.

In addition, Nathan Lucero, who has been the Houston Astros’ head athletic trainer for seven seasons, and Thomas Albert, formerly with Cleveland, will be the Dodgers’ assistant athletic trainers.

Rampe will oversee all of the Dodgers’ medical programs, including athletic training, physical therapy, rehabilitation and strength and conditioning, as well as the training, strength and conditioning of Dodger minor league players.

He began his career as the assistant strength and conditioning coach in the University of Minnesota athletic department, then served as a certified athletic trainer at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Colorado from 2002-03.

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Brandon McCarthy’s Players’ Tribune mailbag

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

When I think of the Players’ Tribune, my mind goes back to the old Players Club ads with Telly Savalas. This is where I picture all these athletes hanging out, catching a show in the lounge while writing their pieces for the PT.

Surely, that was the setting for this jaunty Players’ Tribune mailbag from Dodger pitcher Brandon McCarthy. It’s impossible to pick out my favorite response, but for Dodger fans of all ages, surely this recap of his first encounter with Sandy Koufax works:

First off, he looks about 25 years younger than he is, so my first thought was to ask him about his skin care regimen. Deciding that was too personal, I said something like, “Crazy weather we’re having,” because it was overcast in Arizona. He might have said something in response, but I forget what it was, and honestly it’s not relevant to my story.

Sensing that he was dealing with a social dunce, he asked me about my curveball grip. I showed him, and he quickly showed me a much better way to hold it. My instincts to talk about the weather almost kicked in again before he continued talking about how important the grip is and how he used to hold his depending on what type of curveball he wanted to throw. We talked about the curveball for about half an hour even though I was cold, because it was overcast in Arizona. It will forever be one of my favorite career experiences.

Here’s a short peek into his thoughts about his lost 2015 season:

I wish I had a funny or better answer to this question other than “I don’t know,” but I don’t. I forgot to pack my sinker when I came to spring training and I think I was fighting against that. I was unable to get ground balls so I had to throw more four-seamers, leading to more strikeouts and more fly balls. Sample size for the season was so small and I was hurt for two of the games, so I choose to not look at last season as much of anything.

Read the entire mailbag here.

Brandon McCarthy provides inside insight on Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw

Brett Anderson, Clayton Kershaw, Brandon McCarthy and A.J. Ellis at Camelback Ranch in February.

Brett Anderson, Clayton Kershaw, Brandon McCarthy and A.J. Ellis at Camelback Ranch in February.

Brandon McCarthy made a guest-writing appearance on Buster Olney’s ESPN Insider column today and provided great stuff on Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. Here’s a small sample:

Kershaw is an extreme perfectionist. He’s fanatical about his routine. It’s set in stone and everything that needs to be done to prepare for his next start will be done on time with maximal effort. Once he’s at the field there is no one easier to find than Clayton. You don’t have to see him to know exactly where he is at any given time, you just have to know his routine.

Finding Greinke however, is like trying to find the wind. He’s found only when he makes himself discoverable. He describes his routine as being based on feel. Some days that means he needs to do eight sets of squats. Other days it means using a foam roller for an hour in a far corner of the weight room while reading a magazine. He disappears for hours at a time. He wanders around carrying a plate of food like he’s at an outdoor cocktail party. He’ll watch video when a certain player happens to be on his mind. A “routine” like this is usually a major red flag about a player. The best players in the game typically are known to live and die by their routine, but nobody knows what Zack needs better than Zack, so his anti-routine is never called into question.

— Jon Weisman

Dodger fantasy football breeds strange tweetfellows

The Dodgers held their annual fantasy football draft Monday, an event that seems to beg for wider media coverage, if these tweets above and below are any indication.

— Jon Weisman


Brandon McCarthy speaks about torn UCL

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

For images from Sunday, visit LA Photog Blog.

Giants at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
Brett Anderson, P

By Jon Weisman

A thousand sighs for this piece of news.

Brandon McCarthy and the Dodgers received the worst possible report today about his injured right elbow, learning that the 31-year-old righthander has a torn ulnar collateral ligament that will almost certainly require Tommy John surgery.

With the operation, McCarthy figures to be sidelined until approximately July 2016.

“For the next couple of hours, I’ll keep talking it through and I’ll talk to the doc when he gets here,” McCarthy said this afternoon, “but it certainly (points) in one direction, and I don’t want to be one of those guys who plays out the string for a few months, only to waste everybody’s time.”

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Puig, Peralta head to DL, while McCarthy awaits MRI

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres

For more images from Saturday, visit LA Photog Blog — here and here.

Dodgers at Padres, 1:10 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Justin Turner, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Alex Guerrero, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
Scott Baker, P

By Jon Weisman

There’s not likely to be any update until at least Monday on the condition of Brandon McCarthy, who reported elbow tightness during his five-inning outing Saturday, after he undergoes an MRI.

But two other Dodgers have been placed on the 15-day disabled list today: Yasiel Puig (for the first time in his career) and Joel Peralta. Coming from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take their roster spots are pitchers Carlos Frias and Scott Baker. The latter, as previously discussed, is starting today’s game.

Brandon League will move to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Baker on the 40-man roster.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego PadresAs for today’s starting lineup, Howie Kendrick — who had played every inning this season — will begin today on the bench alongside Juan Uribe and the injured Yasiel Puig.

Yasmani Grandal, who is 4 for 7 with two walks and two doubles (1.524 OPS) in this series, is batting cleanup. Grandal is fifth among NL catchers in WAR.

Justin Turner, who is starting in the No. 5 slot of the batting order for the second time as a Dodger, has reached base eight times this season — four of those a week ago today.

Brandon McCarthy, Challenger of Hitters

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (file photo)

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (file photo)

By Jon Weisman

Like Vin Scully says, come to the ballpark and you’ll probably see something you’ve never seen before. Like Brandon McCarthy becoming  the first pitcher in Major League history to allow at least four home runs in a game, strike out at least 10 and walk none.

There’s no denying that it was disconcerting to see Nelson Cruz homer twice and Corey Seager’s brother once for a 4-0 Seattle lead before the Dodgers got their first hit of the game. And right after the Dodgers cut the Mariners’ lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth (on an Alex Guerrero sacrifice fly and Joc Pederson’s first career hit against a southpaw, a two-run single), Dustin Ackley went deep off McCarthy in the top of the fifth.

All along, McCarthy was whiffing hitters — at least one in every inning. And the steadfastness of McCarthy was such that after giving up that fourth homer, he retired the final seven batters he faced, giving the Dodgers seven innings the night before they have what is essentially a bullpen game with David Huff starting.

Yasiel Puig (solo home run), Adrian Gonzalez (double) and Howie Kendrick (single) tied the game in the bottom of the fifth at 5-5, getting McCarthy off the hook for the loss. The score remained that way through the ninth, sending the Dodgers to their second extra-inning game of the season.

McCarthy, who struck out nine while allowing two homers in his five-inning Dodger debut last week, now has the oddity of having allowed six homers and one walk in 12 innings while striking out an MLB-leading 19. McCarthy leads the Majors in homers allowed, strikeouts and strikeout-walk ratio.

The low walk totals aren’t an anomaly. McCarthy has walked no more than three batters in his last 115 starts since April 14, 2009, according to the Dodger press notes — the longest active streak in the Majors.

In case you missed it: Two days to go

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By Jon Weisman

There’s but one more game between now and Opening Day (starring Clayton Kershaw), as Dodger Stadium opens its doors in 2015 for the first time tonight for the final Freeway Series contest against the Angels.

Friday brought a bit of a desultory road finale to the exhibition season for the Dodgers, who reached base six times – three by Scott Van Slyke – in a 6-0 loss to the Angels.

Los Angeles loaded the bases in the first inning on a hit-by-pitch and two two-out walks against instant old friend Andrew Heaney of the Angels (one of those walks being to the player acquired in exchange, Howie Kendrick). But Heaney retired 14 of the next 15 batters, notwithstanding one reaching on an error, and left with 5 1/3 no-hit innings.

By that point, Brandon McCarthy had allowed a two-run homer to David Freese and Pedro Baez a grand slam to Albert Pujols, and whatever competitive edge the game might have had was gone.

“I still don’t feel completely as locked in as I’d like to be,” McCarthy told Alden Gonzalez of after his final exhibition start, “but I know it’s spring and it’s different.”

Added Don Mattingly to Anthony Witrado of

“It’s been fine,” Mattingly said. “These guys are perfectionists. They are never quite totally happy.

“The ball is jumping out of his hand. For myself and (pitching coach) Rick (Honeycutt), after that third inning it’s like you’re walking out of camp, you’re healthy, you’re as ready as you’re going to be.

“I feel like he’s had a good camp. He’s been able to do all the things he’s wanted to do. He might not feel exactly the way he wants to feel, but I don’t know if anybody ever walks in to the season like that. It’s always a work in progress.”

Witrado added that the Dodgers have set their 25-man roster for Opening Day, barring injury. The announcement isn’t due until Sunday, but could come as soon as today.

In the meantime …

  • Kendrick and Yasiel Puig were both back in action Friday, a night after their collision.
  • All the details from the Dodgers’ press release for Opening Day can be found here.
  • Clayton Kershaw has been a dad for more than two months now (only 214 more until Cali Ann’s an adult).”Babies change so much at this age that going on the road this season will be tough,” Kershaw told Meghan Zahneis of “My outlook on the game hasn’t changed, but you don’t have a bad day at home. You can’t bring a bad work day home.”
  • What were the Dodgers’ most clutch plays of the 2014 season? Chad Moriyama answers the question at Dodgers Digest.
  • George Plimpton’s unforgettable April Fool’s story of Sidd Finch has its roots in a 1960 Kenneth Koch poem, “Ko, or a Season on Earth,” that involved a Japanese phenom taking Dodger Spring Training by storm, according to Jordan Davis at Vice Sports. Here’s more on that poem, with an ending in which “the continent of Asia begins moving East, and the champion Dodgers are transferred there.”

In case you missed it: No new Ryu news to rue

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By Jon Weisman

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s MRI on Monday revealed no change from a 2012 MRI, the Dodgers announced today. Ryu is scheduled to rest and rehab for two weeks before being re-evaluated to determine his next steps.

In other news …

  • I hadn’t heard of the Teres Major muscle until 12 months ago when it was discovered injured in the body of Clayton Kershaw, but it turns out everyone’s got one. Erik Bedard is the latest to suffer a strain of said muscle, and is reported to be out for four to six weeks, according to Ken Gurnick of
  • “I have the same injury as [Clayton] Kershaw, and I want the same rehab as Kershaw. And the same fastball.” — Bedard, via Steve Gilbert of
  • Brandon McCarthy threw five scoreless innings Monday in his minor-league game, covered by Gurnick.
  • Monday’s Cactus League game, featuring three hit batters and four ejections (all on Arizona’s side), was certainly a perplexing one, with everyone weighing the Dodger-Diamondback rivalry against the reminder that, you know this is Spring Training right?’s Gilbert and Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. run it down for us.
  • Daniel Coulombe became the latest Dodger to be optioned to the minors. He faced 21 batters and retired 18 this spring with three strikeouts, allowing a single and walking two.
  • Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles has a lengthy feature today talking to pitchers McCarthy, Juan Nicasio and David Huff, all of whom have been hit in the head by line drives.
  • Jimmy Rollins talked candidly with Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal about subjects including his transition to Dodger blue.
  • The Fangraphs positional rankings continue today, with the Dodgers sixth at first base and also at second base.
  • Joc Pederson’s swing is analyzed by Chad Moriyama at Dodgers Digest, with the conclusion being that he is now keeping the barrel of the bat in the strike zone longer, which should lead to better contact.
  • I tweeted this out Monday, so it’s a day late on here, but I still like it …

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