Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Don Mattingly (Page 2 of 5)

In case you missed it: Kershaw sails, Gaudin ails

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By Jon Weisman

In his first start since his dental denting last week, Clayton Kershaw gave up one run in the first inning today, then delivered five shutout innings, striking out eight, in the Dodgers’ 9-6 victory over the White Sox.

Jose Abreu went 3 for 3 against Kershaw. The rest of the White Sox were 1 for 19 with a walk.

Yasmani Grandal was behind the plate today for Kershaw. “I’ve been watching his games and have a better feel for what he wants to do in certain counts, when to double-up and just see how he’s feeling out there,” Grandal told Ken Gurnick of “The more I catch him, the better I’ll get.”

Said Kershaw: “Better today. We were ahead in the counts more. I didn’t shake him off as much. It’s a learning process.”

Kershaw also sacrificed twice (once with two strikes) and had a two-out single.

After throwing 88 pitches today, Kershaw will scale back for his final Cactus League outing, scheduled on five days’ rest against Kansas City on Wednesday, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times, before taking his Opening Day start on four days’ rest April 6.

The power-happy Dodgers delivered three more homers, including booming shots by Yasiel Puig and Kiké Hernandez and Jimmy Rollins’ first of the spring. Rollins also doubled and had four RBI, and threw out the quick Emilio Bonifacio today from the outfield grass.

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  • Chad Gaudin, who missed the 2014 season because of neck surgery, has had a recurrence of neck discomfort, according to Gurnick. Gaudin will have an MRI, the latest in a series following Brandon League (who will have a follow-up exam Friday from Dr. Neal ElAttrache), Erik Bedard and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
  • There was some pregame mischief today with Tommy Lasorda and a golf cart, writes Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles.
  • The Dodgers have sold their 3,000,000th ticket on their earliest date ever, the team has announced.
  • Don Mattingly, speaking to’s Tracy Ringolsby about the concerns over low offense in baseball: “The commissioner (Rob Manfred) talked about banning shifts,” Mattingly said. “Why don’t we teach guys to hit? Go back to teaching hitters to use the whole field and keep the ball in the strike zone.”
  • It’s hard not to like Eric Stephen’s bullpen battle flowchart at True Blue L.A.
  • The Dodgers sit fourth in right field and 11th in left field on Fangraph’s positional power rankings.
  • If you can’t get enough overviews of the Dodgers’ top prospects, here’s Jim Callis of with his latest.

In case you missed it: Donnie Baseball, 2015

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By Jon Weisman

As the Dodgers Winter Development Program continued (above), Don Mattingly made his first local appearance of 2015, talking shop with the beat writers before joining in on the Winter Development Camp sessions. Ken Gurnick of provides a report of the wide-ranging discussion.

Elsewhere …

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Mattingly makes big play in football title tilt

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Danny Mattingly, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound redshirt freshman linebacker whose third-quarter interception keyed Oregon’s comeback attempt in the college football national championship tonight, is a distant cousin of Don Mattingly, according to this August feature by Andrew Greif in the Oregonian. Click the image above for video.

– Jon Weisman

Don Mattingly a new dad again

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Don Mattingly and his wife Lori are the proud parents of a new baby boy, who will share a birthday with Vin Scully.

Louis Riley Mattingly was born at 10:21 a.m. November 29, and he’s listed at 20 inches and 7.5 pounds. This new Sweet Lou is Don Mattingly’s fourth son, in addition to his two stepsons.

— Jon Weisman

Kershaw, Puig lead as Dodgers grab 15 GIBBY noms

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By Jon Weisman

The GIBBY Awards aren’t named after Kirk Gibson specifically, though the awkwardness of the full name — Greatness in Baseball Yearly — suggests a determined attempt to arrive at that acronym. In any case, the Dodgers are nominated for several in 2014, and you can vote online through November 7. (Winners will be announced December 6.)

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles DodgersClayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig were each nominated in three categories. Here is your full list of Dodger nominees:

  • MLB MVP: Kershaw
  • Starting pitcher: Kershaw
  • Closer: Kenley Jansen
  • Bounceback player: Matt Kemp
  • Manager: Don Mattingly
  • Play: Puig’s double play, July 5 at Colorado
  • Outfield throw: Puig, September 22 vs. San Francisco
  • Moment: Vin Scully announces his return for 2015, July 29
  • Hitting performance: Dee Gordon 5 for 6 with three steals, May 3 at Miami
  • Hitting performance: Puig, 4 for 4 with three triples, July 25 at San Francisco
  • Pitching performance: Josh Beckett no-hitter, May 25 at Philadelphia
  • Pitching performance: Kershaw no-hitter, June 18 vs. Colorado
  • Oddity: Dodgers’ defensive wall, August 29 at San Diego
  • Walkoff: Hanley Ramirez’s 12th-inning homer, August 2 vs. Chicago
  • Cut4 topic: Mo’ne Davis at Dodger Stadium

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Quotebook: Andrew Friedman

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By Jon Weisman

Selected quotes from Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman today:

Opening remarks:

“It’s an incredibly exciting day for me, coming into a franchise with such an historic history, occupying the same seat held by legendary baseball men like Buzzie Bavasi and Branch Rickey, is both challenging and humbling. Baseball would not be where it is today, without the Dodgers, and I have to say it feels great to be a Dodger today.

“Baseball is great when fans care deeply, and no team has better fans than the Dodgers. They expect their team to compete deep into October every year, and so do I. The fans know that baseball’s best when you win, so I’m looking forward to working with the many talented people in this organization to help us get to where we want to be, which is bringing a World Series championship back to L.A.

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Don Mattingly on what NLDS decision he would change

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Don Mattingly addresses the Dodgers after the final game of the NLDS. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Immediately after an end-of-season meeting with his coaches, Don Mattingly sat down with Dodger beat writers this afternoon for a final, cover-the-bases interview before heading off to the offseason — and impending fatherhood. Mattingly’s fourth son (in addition to two stepsons) has a due date in early December.

Ken Gurnick of will have a recap of the 40-minute session (update: here it is), so I’ll just focus on a few of the many topics that came up, including one of the questions I asked: What was the most difficult decision he had to make during the National League Division Series?

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Whoever’s pitching, Matt Carpenter is hammering

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By Jon Weisman

On Friday, Don Mattingly was hit hard for not replacing Clayton Kershaw with J.P. Howell in the seventh inning.

Tonight, in the Dodgers’ 3-2 victory over St. Louis in Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Mattingly got almost as much grief when he replaced Zack Greinke with Howell.

Howell, whom it seems safe to say is in a slump after being at the top of his game for nearly the entire regular season, gave up a game-tying two-run homer to Matt Carpenter, the batter he would have faced with the bases loaded if Kershaw had been pulled one batter sooner.

It showed pretty starkly why Mattingly was reluctant to give up on his best pitcher in Game  1.

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Closing out Game 1, moving on to Game 2

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By Jon Weisman

Over in the far-off reaches of the American League, the Detroit Tigers bullpen has been absolutely battered. In both his playoff games, Detroit manager Brad Ausmus has been ripped for removing a pitcher too soon.

Neither of those occasions came with Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Neither of them came in an inning that began after Clayton Kershaw had retired 16 of his last 17 batters with eight strikeouts, using only 74 pitches over that stretch and 81 in the game to that point.

NLDS Game 1-Los Angeles Dodgers vs St.Louis CardinalsI’m sympathetic to the argument that by the time nemesis Matt Carpenter came to bat in the seventh inning of Friday’s loss to the Cardinals, 21 pitches later, Kershaw was on thin ice. But I’m having trouble believing that anytime before that, Don Mattingly would have received less criticism for turning the final seven, eight or nine outs of the game to middle relief that has been darkly questioned all year long.

That’s not at all to say the bullpen would have failed, though the walk and home run surrendered by Pedro Baez to his first two batters was not reassuring — and J.P. Howell, who would have faced John Jay with the bases loaded in the seventh if many had had their way, allowed a leadoff single to Jay in the ninth.

It’s simply that between 1) a Kershaw that was allowing singles but also striking batters out, or 2) a fresh Howell or Baez, not only is the choice basically a tossup, but choosing the bullpen is betting against the player that has come through more often than any other pitcher in the game.

Put more bluntly: Imagine the reaction if Clayton Kershaw was in the dugout, having thrown 102 pitches on eight days’ rest, if and when the Dodgers lost their lead.

No one knows better than Kershaw that he didn’t come through.  But if you think that he was destined to fail, or if you think he can’t win in the playoffs, or if you don’t think he can come back in his next start from the rare adversity that strikes, I don’t know what pitcher you’ve been watching all this time.

As for the struggles of the 2014 bullpen itself …

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Business before pleasure on the season’s final day

Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers

For more photos from Saturday, visit LA Photog Blog.

Rockies at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Darwin Barney, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, 3B
Erisbel Arruebarrena, SS
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

Bullet points seem like a nice way to go for Game 162.

  • Don Mattingly said everyone is optimistic that Dee Gordon, who left Saturday’s game with a sore hip and had an MRI, would be ready Friday for Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
  • Hanley Ramirez had no ill effects today after fouling a ball off his knee Saturday.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu had a successful bullpen session today. Assuming no setbacks Monday, he would be set for a midweek simulated game and on track to start Game 3 of the NLDS on October 6.
  • Mattingly was a bit coy about what manager-for-the-day Juan Uribe would actually do today, but one thing he was clear about was that nothing would be done to embarrass any players or umpires. Any arguments, for example, Mattingly will handle. But while Uribe will be given guidelines about who to play and for how long, it does appear strategic decisions will be left in Uribe’s hands. Uribe himself will not play.
  • Similarly, pitching coach du jour Clayton Kershaw will have a schedule of who is supposed to get work behind Zack Greinke, but he presumably will be the one going to the mound to make any moves or talk shop.
  • Kershaw himself threw about 30-odd pitches in a simulated game to keep himself fresh.
  • Mattingly joked that he was going to check to see if he and Uribe would be switching salaries for the day.
  • Going into play today, Gordon led the MLB stolen-base race by eight and in triples by two. Adrian Gonzalez led Mike Trout in the drive for the big-league RBI crown by two. Stephen Strasburg and Johnny Cueto did end up passing Kershaw on the NL strikeout list.

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On switching outfielders

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres

For more photo highlights from Wednesday, visit LA Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

I remember thinking in 2008, when Andruw Jones was in an ugly slump, that the Dodgers had no choice but to stick with him, because they weren’t going to win anything if he didn’t right himself. And then, as it turned out, the Dodgers created another choice, named Manny Ramirez.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS V SAN DIEGO PADRESBut I also remember, in 2014, calls to bench Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp when they were struggling.

On June 4, a week after Crawford had gone on the disabled list, Kemp had a .291 on-base percentage and .398 slugging percentage. The cries for Joc Pederson were probably never louder. Since that time, Kemp has a .380 on-base percentage and .535 slugging percentage (a .915 OPS) while finding a home in right field.

It was even worse in Crawford’s case. On May 2, Crawford had a .212 on-base percentage and .259 slugging percentage. He then started 17 of the Dodgers’ next 23 games — playing nearly every day against righties — and had a .389 OBP while slugging .565.

Crawford went on the disabled list for six weeks, and when he came back, the stats would indicate he was lost. On August 9, he was down to .268/.333 on the season — a .601 OPS. And people wondered aloud why Andre Ethier wasn’t playing.

But Don Mattingly saw good at-bats amid those struggles, and committed to Crawford. The reward: the hottest hitter in the majors, a .478 OBP and .614 slugging percentage, including an astonishing 9-for-12 with a walk, four doubles (three in Wednesday’s 4-0 victory) and home run in this week’s Padres series. On the just-concluded homestand, Crawford had a .533 OBP and slugged .897.

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People will criticize Mattingly for this and that, but rarely does he get credit for what turned out to be something quite savvy — recognizing that it was too soon to forsake Crawford and Kemp, even when others would have.

It’s hard to watch someone who has been as important to the Dodgers over the past decade as Andre Ethier languish on the bench. It’s natural to wonder what would happen if he received the everyday opportunities that Crawford, Kemp and Yasiel Puig have since the All-Star Break, and whether that would have made a difference in a season that has stuck him with a sub-.700 OPS. (As it happens, Ethier is 9 for 25 with a .448 on-base percentage off the bench since August 17, evidence that he has made the best of a reserve role and/or an argument that he should play more.)

I would only say that it’s also natural to wonder what Puig is capable of when he comes out of his own long slump, and based on what happened with Crawford and Kemp, it would be odd to assume he won’t. In other words, unless you think 2014 Puig is 2008 Jones, it might be worth waiting this one out.

Dodgers add speedy outfielder Bernadina to bench

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Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers added an extra outfielder and perhaps more importantly, a pinch-runner, in bringing up Roger Bernadina from Triple-A Albuquerque.

The 34th player on the active roster, the 30-year-old Bernadina has stolen 59 out of 71 bases (83.1 percent) in a 539-game Major League career, as well 204 out of 261 (78.2 percent) in the minors. A reserve with the Isotopes this year who started the year with Cincinnati, Bernadina had a .380 on-base percentage and .351 slugging percentage in 71 plate appearances.

Bernadina has also played more than 1,000 innings in center field in his career. He was signed to a minor-league deal in July.

Speaking of center field, Yasiel Puig is suffering from a stomach ailment, according to manager Don Mattingly, who moved Joc Pederson back into the starting lineup. Mattingly said that the Dodgers would learn later today whether Puig would be available off the bench.

Mattingly said he chose Pederson over Andre Ethier for defensive reasons, adding that he loves Ethier and knows that being relegated to the bench is not a great situation for him, but that there are only so many spots available.

How easy the Dodgers’ remaining schedule is — and does it matter?

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For photo highlights from Sunday, visit LA Photog Blog.

The Dodgers have 36 games remaining; 21 of them are at home and 27 of them are against teams with losing records. That’s right: Los Angeles has only nine games remaining against winning teams all season — and only three road games against a winning team (San Francisco, September 12-14).

By Jon Weisman

The most challenging part of the Dodger season is over — on paper.

In reality, every day is its own special challenge.

Los Angeles came out of the All-Star Break having to play 29 games in 31 days, 18 of them on the road, 26 of them against winning teams. That’s a hell of a tough run, and despite the weekend sweep by Milwaukee, the team went 16-13 (.551), an 89-win pace over a 162-game season against some of the best baseball had to offer.

At least in the short term, the Dodgers’ performance did little to support the idea home games are more valuable than road games (Los Angeles is a .500 team at home but has baseball’s best road record, 40-26, and went 11-7 on the road against the above-.500 opponents), or that strength of schedule affects performance.

Against the team that now has the best record in baseball, the Angels, the Dodgers won three out of four. Los Angeles performed its worst against teams that are now No. 1 in the National League (the Brewers) and No. 14 (the Cubs, who beat the Dodgers two out of three.)

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Dodgers don’t believe HBPs were intentional, but they’re still fed up

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By Jon Weisman

Intentional? No. Irresponsible? That’s another story.

That was the sentiment from the Dodgers after Sunday’s roller-coaster 4-3 victory.

Adrian Gonzalez, who had the game-winning hit Sunday for the Dodgers, starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw and manager Don Mattingly talked about the key events.

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From the magazine: ‘Father’s Daze’

Ahead of Father’s Day, I talked to several Dodgers about how they remained connected with their families when they spend so much of their lives away from home.  Below, the reprint from this month’s Dodger Insider magazine (click each page to enlarge):

— Jon Weisman

Father's Daze 1

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