Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Chase Utley (Page 2 of 4)

Dodgers play righty vs. righty card against Chatwood

Atlanta Braves vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Justin Turner, 3B
Corey Seager, SS
Trayce Thompson, RF
Adrian González, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Kiké Hernandez, LF
Scott Van Slyke, RF
A.J. Ellis, C
Mike Bolsinger, P

By Jon Weisman

If you’re wondering why Dave Roberts chose to rest left-handed hitters Chase Utley and Joc Pederson against right-handed Rockies pitcher Tyler Chatwood, it’s mainly because right-handed batters have had more success against him.

This year, righties have an .788 OPS against Chatwood, while lefties are at .579. The split was even more pronounced in 2014, before Chatwood had the Tommy John surgery that forced him out of action in 2016. Chatwood has returned this year to lead Colorado starters with a 2.99 ERA.

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Adrian Gonzalez leads Dodgers in NL All-Star voting

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs

All-Star 6-1 part 1By Jon Weisman

For a Dodger team that hasn’t dominated offensively in 2016, the initial National League All-Star voting update yields some unsurprising results.

Adrian Gonzalez is the lone Dodger position player to appear in the top five in any category. Gonzalez is only 18,000 votes behind Brandon Belt of the Giants, though each is more than 600,000 votes behind the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo. Fan voting continues through the end of June at dodgers.com/vote.

Still, 2016 offers a rare All-Star opportunity for the Dodgers. The only time the Dodgers have had the starting and closing pitchers in an All-Star Game was in 1974, when Andy Messersmith went the first three innings and Mike Marshall the final two in a 7-2 NL victory.

All-Star 6-1 Part 2Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen can add their names to that list.

Kershaw, whose WAR is 57 percent higher than the next closest starting pitcher, is the most likely NL pitcher to start the All-Star Game, while Jansen is arguably the top choice to finish it (with Hector Rondon of the Cubs sitting as the top competition right now).

Eleven Dodger pitchers have started an All-Star Game. Believe it or not, none of them are Kershaw.

Among position players, the noteworthy Dodger candidate dating back essentially to Opening Day has been Chase Utley. The 37-year-old started the season strong and hasn’t flagged, posting a .369 on-base percentage, .428 slugging percentage, .349 weighted on-base average and 122 weighted runs created over the first two months.

The problem for Utley is that he’s at a position that is stacked this year, with Washington’s Daniel Murphy (.447 wOBA) and Chicago’s Ben Zobrist (.418 wOBA) in the midst of monster seasons, and New York’s Neil Walker (.362 wOBA) ripping 13 home runs himself.

With a .361 OBP and .555 slugging over the past four weeks — including seven home runs in the past 20 days — Corey Seager has suddenly emerged as the Dodgers’ top position-player candidate, relative to the competition. Despite Seager’s superior stats, fans will need to make an enormous push for Seager to overcome Addison Russell’s lead at the ballot box, though a reserve spot as a consolation prize is in play.

Seager trailed fellow rookie Trevor Story of Colorado, who homered 10 times in April, in wOBA by 113 points on May 1. He has narrowed that gap to 24 points, while playing superior defense, according to the metrics. In fact, a good deal of Seager’s value is tied into his solid defense, which makes him a harder sell on a ballot that only celebrates offense.

Joc Pederson’s eight home runs have kept him on the fringe of All-Star consideration, but the outfield competition is likely to be too stiff for him to return to the All-Star Game after playing there as a rookie in 2015. Similarly, Gonzalez has some respectable numbers, but they’re unlikely enough to push through a group at first base that includes Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, Belt and Rizzo.

Official voting notes:

You may vote in the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Balloting Program a maximum of thirty-five (35) times between April 24, 2016, and June 30, 2016 (limit of five (5) times during any twenty-four (24) hour period, with that twenty-four (24) hour period to begin as of the time of the first vote; following the expiration of the initial twenty-four (24) hour period, the next twenty-four (24) hour period begins at the time of your next vote).

You can also receive the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game ballot by texting VOTE or VOTA to 89269. In Canada, fans can receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 101010.

Unlikely comeback meets unhappy ending

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By Jon Weisman

In more than 100 years, no reliever had ever entered the ninth inning of a game against the Dodgers with a four-run lead, blown the lead and won the game.

But that’s what happened when the Mets’ Jeurys Familia gave up a bases-loaded walk to Yasmani Grandal and a three-run double to Chase Utley (the latest memorable moment for Utley) – then emerged the winning pitcher on Curtis Granderson’s home run off Pedro Baez, 6-5.

Via Baseball-Reference.com, the closest equivalent was September 27, 2011, when Arizona’s Micah Owings started the 10th inning of a 1-1 game against the Dodgers and allowed five runs before the Diamondbacks scored six in the bottom of the inning off Blake Hawksworth and Javy Guerra, capped by a Ryan Roberts grand slam.

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The Amazing Chase: In his 14th season, Utley shows no signs of stopping

DI cover HS04 (May 23-25)

In the cover story of the most recent Dodger Insider magazine, we explored the resurgent — or maybe he’s just always surgent — Chase Utley.

For the 36th time this season, Utley is the leadoff hitter for the Dodgers. He leads the Dodgers in on-base percentage, but he does so much more.

“I’ve always taken pride in playing hard,” Utley told our Cary Osborne. “That’s something you have to do on a daily basis. It’s not the easiest thing to do, especially over the course of years and years and games and games. But if you’re able to have that mindset every game, you get the most out of yourself and therefore give your team the best chance to win.”

Said Corey Seager: “I watched him when I grew up. I had a buddy I played with forever who’s from Philadelphia and grew up a Phillies fan. … To be able to sit beside (Utley) is still cool. I still talk about it with my friend. I walk in every day, and he’s sitting there and he’s always there before you. He’s that kind of guy.”

Read the entire story by clicking here.

Beginning this year, the Dodgers merged their previously separate Playbill and Dodger Insider magazines into one publication (at least 80 pages per issue) with a new edition available each homestand plus one in October, 13 issues total. It is distributed at auto gates (one per vehicle) and via Fan Services for those who use alternate transportation. Dodger Insider magazine includes news, features, analysis, photos, games, stadium information and more. Fans who still wish to subscribe can do so at dodgers.com/magazine

The Dodgers won. They won.

Yasiel Puig points back to the dugout after hitting a tiebreaking two-run single in the 17th inning. (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Yasiel Puig points back to the dugout after hitting a tiebreaking two-run single in the 17th inning. (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers won.

They won, 9-5, over San Diego, in 17 innings, despite the albatross of a bad week and a rough season hanging over themThey won, despite the specter of a third consecutive walkoff loss howling all around them.

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Hyun-Jin Ryu to pitch rehab game Sunday

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 3.36.51 PM

Cardinals at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Scott Kazmir, P

By Cary Osborne

Hyun-Jin Ryu will pitch in a game Sunday — the first time he has toed the rubber for a game since March 17, 2015 in Spring Training.

Dave Roberts said today that Ryu will start his rehab assignment in Rancho Cucamonga, where he will pitch possibly two innings.

The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start in San Bernardino, where the Quakes will take on Inland Empire.

Roberts said he anticipates Ryu making four or five appearances before he’s ready to return to the Dodgers.

In addition, Brandon McCarthy pitched another simulated inning at Dodger Stadium today and faced Charlie Culberson, who was taking hacks against him.

“Charlie said the ball was coming out good — fastball, changeup, curve — and so that’s another step in the right direction,” Roberts said. “He puts some good swings, but there were also some swings and misses, which was good to see from McCarthy’s standpoint.”

Roberts said McCarthy will get one more simulated inning before being sent out for a rehab assignment.

Yimi Garcia, who went on the disabled list April 23 with right biceps soreness, is in Arizona and not near a return.

“We’re a little beside ourselves on the lack of progress, so he’s just kind of laying low and not really doing any baseball activities,” Roberts said.

Garcia felt soreness on April 22 and left after two-thirds of an inning in Colorado.

One more note: Chase Utley returns to the starting lineup at second base, a day after Howie Kendrick went 2 for 5 and was robbed of a home run.

Roberts said he wanted Utley’s left-handed bat in the lineup with right-hander Carlos Martinez’s ball running in on right-handers.

Dodger record: Three pinch-walks in same inning

JON_8145

By Jon Weisman

Lost among Wednesday’s weirdness was this: According to my research at Baseball-Reference.com, when Chase Utley, Yasmani Grandal and Joc Pederson each saw ball four in the eighth, it was the first time three pinch-hitters had walked in the same inning in Los Angeles Dodgers history.

Twenty other times since the franchise began play in Brooklyn, the Dodgers had gotten at least three pinch-walks in a game — one time, they had four — but only twice before did they have three in the same inning.

Yeah, I know, how trivial — but what can I tell you? This is the kind of stuff that interests me.

The only other times this happened in franchise history were in Brooklyn, and both times were real doozies.

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For Dave Roberts, lefty-righty not quite almighty

Left-handed hitters Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Carl Crawford

Left-handed hitters Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Carl Crawford

By Jon Weisman

When is a platoon not a platoon? According to Dave Roberts, when it isn’t quite a platoon.

Though the Dodgers have leaned heavily on lefty-righty matchups in constructing their offense this season, Roberts explained today some of the distinctions that he sees.

“Certain guys, their out pitch is a changeup,” Roberts said. “Certain lefties, it’s a breaking ball. So when typically, it’s a breaking ball is their best secondary, then it’s harder for the left-on-left — the visual. Guys that have a changeup as an out pitch, typically the left-handers can handle them more. There are other components to it as well.”

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After Kershaw’s double-double, Grandal doubles in game-winner

Clayton Kershaw is called out at home plate in the seventh inning. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw is called out at home plate in the seventh. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

Like cleaning an old outdoor barbecue on a warm Sunday afternoon, the Dodgers had to cut and scrape more than they would have liked in with Clayton Kershaw on the mound in Atlanta. But in the end, they got the savory meal they came for.

After Kershaw allowed 10 hits with 10 strikeouts in the same game for the first time in his career, the Dodgers scored in the 10th inning for the second time in 18 hours, eking out a 2-1 victory over Atlanta.

The red-hot Yasmani Grandal hit an RBI double to drive home Kiké Hernandez with the winning run. Grandal, who walked as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, is 7 for 12 with four doubles and six walks in his past five games — a .722 on-base percentage.

Kershaw got a no-decision, which belied what a day of action it was for the lefty ace.

“Weird day,” Kershaw told SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo after the game.

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Dodgers bounce back after halftime, win in overtime

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By Jon Weisman

Dodgers 5, Braves 3 in 10 innings. Choose your headliner:

  • Yasmani Grandal, who reached base four times (to raise his 2016 on-base percentage to .571) and carried home the Dodgers’ first run in the fifth inning after the Dodgers fell behind, 3-0.
  • Adrian Gonzalez, with a game-tying home run in the sixth inning.
  • Justin Turner, with a go-ahead RBI double in the 10th inning.
  • How about Chase Utley, who went 2 for 5, including the leadoff hit, stolen base and first run in the 10th, and a relentlessly effective night on defense?
  • Or maybe that Dodger bullpen, with 6 1/3 shutout innings.

Heck, we’ll just go with all of the above.

By the time it was over, it seemed like an eternity since a Dodger starting pitcher was forced to leave before the fifth inning for the second night in a row. All three runs (two earned) scored off Ross Stripling with two outs and two strikes on the batter, extending him so much that Dave Roberts lifted him after 3 2/3 innings and 76 pitches.

But after being held to one run over their first 13 innings in Georgia, the Dodgers were able to come back and even the series with Atlanta, with Clayton Kershaw going in Thursday’s 9:10 a.m. Pacific start.

Dodger relievers have allowed one earned run in their past 24 1/3 innings.

Dodgers’ outrageous Opening Day offensive onslaught

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Linescore
Box score

By Jon Weisman

A historic day for the Dodgers began with something between a hunch and an observation by new manager Dave Roberts.

Chase Utley isn’t the Dodgers’ permanent leadoff hitter. He was simply the kind of hitter, based on his long history in the game, whom Roberts thought might do well batting first against Tyson Ross on Opening Day.

Coming up to start the 2016 season, Utley fell behind 1-2, worked the count to 3-2, and then stroked a simple, solid, sinking drive to left-center at which Jon Jay dove fruitlessly, good for a double.

No. 2 hitter Corey Seager, with almost none of Utley’s past but potentially all of his future and more, then boomed a double off the left-field wall on the fly, and it was on.

How on, we had no idea.

Their 15-0 victory (recapped by MLB.com) was the largest Opening Day shutout by any team in Major League history, according to Elias, breaking a 105-year-old record set by the Pirates at Cincinnati on April 12, 1911, 14-0.

“That first inning really set the tone for us,” Roberts said after the game. “After that, guys kept having good at-bats.”

The dominant performance created this cavalcade of conquest …

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In case you missed it: Utley’s suspension canceled

Chase Utley works out on February 29. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Chase Utley works out on February 29. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Indians at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Corey Seager, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Trayce Thompson, RF
Rob Segedin, 3B
Shawn Zarraga, DH
Charlie Culberson, 2B
(Alex Wood, P)

By Jon Weisman

Chase Utley spoke to reporters today about MLB rescinding his two-game suspension for his hard slide into Ruben Tejada at last year’s National League Division Series.

“At the end of the day, I believe that he believes the slide was not an illegal slide,” Utley said, according to Bill Plunkett of the Register.

Utley also spoke about Tejada, according to Doug Padilla of ESPN.com.

“I can’t say enough how terrible I felt for Ruben,” Utley said. “I had no intent to hurt him whatsoever. If anybody thinks I did, they’re completely wrong.”

Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna of the Times reported Sunday that the suspension would be withdrawn by MLB, which last month revised its rulebook about plays at second base.

… Tejada, vulnerable because his back was turned toward Utley, suffered a fractured right fibula and was sidelined for the rest of the playoffs. In announcing the suspension for what an MLB statement called an “illegal slide,” (MLB chief baseball officer Joe) Torre cited Utley for a “rolling block … away from the base.”

However, such a slide was not explicitly outlawed until Feb. 25, when MLB adopted a new rule to protect middle infielders on slides into second. As a result, Torre said Sunday, the league might have faced difficulty upholding the suspension via an appeal hearing.

“I think it would have been an issue,” Torre said. “There wasn’t anything clear-cut to say that play violated a rule.”

Torre said the priority for the league was not in pursuing a suspension of Utley but in revising the rules to enhance player safety. …

Here are some more pregame news and notes …

  • Howie Kendrick was going to make his first Spring Training start at third base today, but he was a late scratch because of right groin soreness. For the second time in three days, Shawn Zarraga was called upon to serve as emergency designated hitter, with Rob Segedin taking the start at third.
  • Carl Crawford confirmed to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he has been told he will begin the season as a reserve left fielder behind Andre Ethier.
  • Gurnick rounds up some more health updates, including two innings of live batting practice by Julio Urias and the resumption of Hyun-Jin Ryu’s throwing program after a week off.
  • Also, Ethier has a right-hand contusion but was able to continue most baseball activities today, while Alex Guerrero is also back at it and is a candidate to start at designated hitter on Tuesday.
  • Micah Johnson spoke to Padilla about his bid to carve out playing time for himself at what’s become a crowded second base for the Dodgers.
  • SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo was among those to speak with Richard Deitsch of SI.com in this comprehensive story about safety issues facing female sports reporters.
  • The story of Clayton Kershaw’s Public Enemy No. 1 is introduced from the point of view of the batter, Sean Casey, in this Anthony Castrovince story for Sports on Earth.
  • UCLA unveiled a Jackie Robinson statue on campus Sautrday, writes Chad Thornburg of MLB.com. In December, the Dodgers announced plans for their own Robinson statue at Dodger Stadium this year.
  • Tom Knight, a preeminent Brooklyn baseball historian, is remembered in this obituary by Bruce Weber for the New York Times.

In case you missed it: Pulling Puig’s teeth

Dave Roberts speaks to the team today during first full-squad meeting of the year.

Dave Roberts speaks to the team today during first full-squad meeting of the year.

By Jon Weisman

On the day TMZ rumored that Yasiel Puig was getting the world’s greatest helicopter, the Dodger outfielder’s chopper concerns were much more down to earth. Like so many of us have, Puig went through the rite of passage of having his wisdom teeth removed Tuesday.

According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Puig’s jaw remained swollen today. It’s hoped he’ll return to baseball activity Friday.

Meanwhile, sink your pearly whites into these morsels…

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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 MLB.com. 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 …

Updates on Puig, Utley, McCarthy and Kershaw

Los Angeles Dodgers Fanfest

By Jon Weisman

Now that all the hoopla of Saturday’s FanFest has given way to rain, wind and an element to be named later, let’s check in on the latest with a few of your intrepid Dodger heroes.

Yasiel Puig

About three feet in front of me Saturday, near the FanFest stage, Dave Roberts and Yasiel Puig shared an enthusiastic hello and embrace. When I tweeted this, I was met with some skepticism, but the relationship ball is rolling, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

“I just had a good sit-down with him,” Roberts said. “It was refreshing for me to have a good face-to-face with him, to talk about our vision, and it’s more of, ‘Let’s wipe the slate clean’ and everything’s new. There’s the same core of players but a completely new coaching staff, and we just want him to be himself and let’s start fresh.”

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