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For images from Friday, visit LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
While Thursday’s game for the Dodgers, a 3-2 loss to the Angels, was meant to be about the bullpen, the outfielder kept drawing our eyes away.
First, there was Joc Pederson’s tumbling, volleyballing catch in center, where he bumped and set the ball in the air before nearly spiking it, instead hanging on for the out.
Then, there was the collision between Howie Kendrick and Yasiel Puig in short right field, which threatened to be the worst jolt to a Dodger throat since a shard of Bill Russell’s broken bat impaled Steve Yeager in the on-deck circle nearly 40 years ago.
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Puig remained horizontal on his frontside for a couple minutes before returning to his feet and walking off the field on his own power. He was examined (his chin apparently taking part of the blow) and found to be fine, his removal from the game simply to take advantage of the few remaining ticks of exhibition season to let him begin decompressing early. He’s expected back as soon as tonight, though again, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Dodgers allowed him 24 more hours convalescence.
The collision, weirdly enough, came in Kendrick’s first game in Anaheim as a visiting player.
“There hasn’t been any trouble out there all spring,” Don Mattingly said after the game, as Clay Fowler of the Daily News reported. “It was just one of those things. I don’t know if Yasiel didn’t think he could call it early enough. I mean you can’t call for it until you know you’ve got it, so everybody keeps coming until the end. And obviously with him calling it late, Howie’s going to keep going and he’s going to have trouble stopping. … That’s when it gets dangerous.”
As for the pitching, the Dodgers were good to their word, using eight pitchers for exactly one inning each (though minor-leaguer Josh Ravin faced one batter in the fifth inning – Mike Trout, who hit the ball to Puig and Kendrick that ended up being ruled an infield triple. Sergio Santos went first for the Dodgers, allowing a one-out homer to that man Trout, who can apparently play a little ball.
Adam Liberatore (pictured) and Paco Rodriguez each added a shutout inning to their ERAly perfect springs, continuing to make it difficult for the Dodgers to option them even in the short term, while J.P. Howell and Chris Hatcher continued their comebacks from uneven Marches with shutout innings of their own. Righties Pedro Baez and Joel Peralta also pitched shutout innings.
Hatcher, who might see some ninth-inning action in the absence of Kenley Jansen, has been in nine games this spring, pitching shutout ball in seven of them and allowing three runs in each of the other two.
Among the position players, Darwin Barney extended his effort to stave off demotion by doubling off the bench. In his past five games, the stalwart defender is 6 for 9 with three doubles and a triple. Pederson had the Dodgers’ only extra-base hit against Angels starter Matt Shoemaker, an RBI double, as part of a 1-for-3 night.