Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Kenta Maeda (Page 4 of 4)

In case you missed it: Dodgers avoid singles scene

By Jon Weisman

For seven innings today, the Dodgers were on their way to an unprecedented feat.

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In case you missed it: Lighting up the scoreboard

[mlbvideo id=”549723983″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

By Jon Weisman

Today, when Dave Roberts had to make his first mid-inning visit to the mound as Dodger manager, to relieve starter Scott Kazmir with two out in the second inning against the Angels, maybe it seemed like a big deal.

It wasn’t.

Kazmir’s five runs allowed were matched by Jeff Weaver of the Angels, only the start of what became a 13-13 tie in Tempe — recapped at MLB.com.

“I honestly think I’m on the right path,” Kazmir said. “If you look at the game and not the box score, it tells a different story.”

But really, this was a day for the offense.

Joc Pederson, Austin Barnes (who had three hits) and Scott Van Slyke homered for the 4-1-2 Dodgers, who have increased their Spring Training OPS to a rather ridiculous .916.

The player who made the biggest impression today was 20-year-old first baseman Cody Bellinger, the theoretical heir to Adrian Gonzalez — if he can wait that long. Bellinger, who is also capable of playing outfield, went 3 for 3 and is impressing Roberts.

“The game doesn’t speed up on him,” Roberts told Ken Gurnick in this feature for MLB.com. “He looks comfortable out there. The more you see, the more you like.”

What else?

  • Encouraging news on the injury front from Gurnick: Howie Kendrick and Alex Guerrero participated in fielding and hitting drills, Hyun-Jin Ryu threw for the third consecutive day, Justin Turner again played in a minor-league game and Julio Urias had a light bullpen session ahead of his anticipated Cactus League debut Friday.
  • Brett Anderson spoke at length to Gurnick about beginning his latest rehab from surgery to repair a bulging disc.
  • Bill Plunkett of the Register looks at the different ways Roberts tries to connect with his players.
  • Kenta Maeda, who pitches Thursday for the Dodgers, talked to Doug Padilla of ESPN.com about what it would mean if he were able to face off against the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka when the Dodgers go to the Bronx in September.
  • Skip Schumaker, who had twin .332 on-base and slugging percentages for the Dodgers in 2014, has retired at age 36, ending an 11-year MLB career.

Maeda measures up in Dodger overture

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Unknown-37By Jon Weisman

Kenta Maeda looked composed and pitched like a composer, conducting with confidence in his Dodger rooster song, his cockatoo debut, his stork salute, his robin’s reverie, his canon of the condor.

“Not really,” the 27-year-old said when asked if he were nervous. “Maybe a little bit, right before I got on the mound, but while I was on the mound, not really.

In two innings before 13,122 at Camelback Ranch, Maeda retired six batters on 28 pitches, striking out two (Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury).

“I thought I was able to add and subtract with the velocity, and also I was able to command all my pitches well today,” Maeda said through a translator. “It was my first opportunity to be able to pitch in front of the fans, so I wanted to make a good impression.”

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Kenta Maeda set for Dodger debut

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Andre Ethier, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Corey Seager, SS
Shawn Zarraga, DH
Elian Herrera, 3B
Corey Brown, CF
(Kenta Maeda, P)
Update: Alex Guerrero, originally listed at DH, was a late scratch with left knee soreness.

By Jon Weisman

A sizable media contingent, soon to be followed by a sellout Camelback Ranch crowd, greets Kenta Maeda today for his first start in a Dodger uniform.

“We’re all excited to get him out there,” Dave Roberts said this morning. “He’s excited to get out there. And it’s just more of getting an up-and-down — two innings — controlling those emotions, and just the fastball command. He’s gonna mix in some breaking balls, but I think for the most part it’s that fastball command.”

With Adrian Gonzalez making his first exhibition start today, Roberts also gave an update on Justin Turner, the only likely Opening Day position player who has yet to see Cactus League action.

“He’s doing everything right now as a baseball player, and I think the first thing we’re gonna do is get him in a game as a designated hitter,” Roberts said. “There’s no date yet — as I said early, he wasn’t going to be playing the first week. … But he’s gonna have time to get at-bats, whether on this side or the (minor-league) side, and he’s taking all the grounders, doing everything he needs to do.”

In case you missed it: Justin Turner won’t start first Cactus games

Happy #LeapDay everyone! #LA @dodgers ⚾️

A post shared by Justin Turner (@redturn2) on

By Jon Weisman

Justin Turner is looking forward to leaping into 2016, but he’ll be leaping cautiously at first.

As a precaution and not unexpectedly, Turner won’t play in the first week of Cactus League games, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes.

Dave Roberts told reporters today that Turner, who is recovering from November microfracture knee surgery, remains on schedule for Opening Day, and that he can get at-bats in minor-league camp in the interim.

Howie Kendrick and Chase Utley will get some starts at third base in the meantime, Roberts said.

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In case you missed it: Would Julio Urias pitch in WBC?

Jose De Leon with Julio Urias on Saturday.

Jose De Leon with Julio Urias on Saturday.

By Jon Weisman

In his story on Julio Urias today for MLB.com, Jesse Sanchez presents a couple of bold March options for the teenage left-hander. I’m not sure how viable either are, but let Sanchez set it up for you …

There could come a time this spring when Dodgers pitching prospect Julio Urias will have to make a big decision: suit up for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic qualifying round next month in Mexicali, Mexico, or stay in Arizona and pitch for a spot with Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old pitcher already knows what he’ll do if the situation arises.

“My first choice would be to be here with the Dodgers and see if there is an opportunity for me here,” Urias said in Spanish. “I prefer to be with the Dodgers. But at the same time, I would enjoy being with the Mexican team.” …

Not even Clayton Kershaw made his pitching debut with the Dodgers in the month of April, so when you talk about Urias trying to “pitch for a spot with Los Angeles,” one assumes that’s a long-term goal. As for the WBC, Urias doesn’t have any specific reason to believe he would go.

“I’ve heard I appeared on a list, but nobody has said anything to me,” Urias said. “Adrian [Gonzalez] is here and his brother is the manager, so I don’t know what my status is there. I would love to do it, but it’s also up to Mexico to choose me.”

Perhaps the main takeaway from Sanchez’s story might be that Urias, who has rated as mature for his age even since the Dodgers signed him in 2012, continues to progress.

“In talking to people that were here in years prior, he’s got a different look in his eye,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s got that confidence where he’s no longer this young kid with a blessed arm. Right now, he feels that at the Major League level, there is a real opportunity to make an impact, and that’s a good thing.”

Elsewhere in the world of the Dodgers and baseball … 

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In case you missed it: Maeda in America

Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and catchers workout

By Jon Weisman

Kenta Maeda was the focal point at Camelback Ranch today. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com illustrates …

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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 MLB.com.
  • 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 …

Why Kenta Maeda offers high upside

Maeda headshotBy Jon Weisman

Twice during his introductory press conference today, speaking through a translator, new Dodger righty Kenta Maeda said he really looked forward to being in a “champagne fight” at the end of the season.

That Maeda acknowledged reported “irregularities” in the physical that was submitted to Major League teams pursuing the Japanese baseball star certainly affected the structure of the eight-year, incentive-laden deal he signed, but did not diminish the confidence that he or the Dodgers have that he’ll be in the thick of the championship bubbly.

“Obviously, we spent a lot of time evaluating and scouting Kenta over his very successful career in Japan,” Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “We feel like the pitch mix will play here — obviously the fastball, slider is kind of his out pitch, his changeup has really come on, very good feel for a curveball. The ability to show so many different pitches and command them, coupled with the kind of athlete he is — he’s a tremendous athlete, fields his position well, holds runners well, can hit — obviously helps in the National League.”

No one today would talk in specifics about what cropped up in Maeda’s physical, but Friedman said that he is “totally asymptomatic.”

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The lowdown on new Dodger righty Kenta Maeda

Kenta Maeda pitches in the second inning against the MLB All-Stars at the Kyocera Dome during the Japan All-Star Series on November 12, 2014 in Osaka. (Yuki Taguchi/MLB Photos)

Kenta Maeda pitches in the second inning against the MLB All-Stars at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome during the Japan All-Star Series on November 12, 2014. (Yuki Taguchi/MLB Photos)

By Jon Weisman

Bolstering their starting rotation, the Dodgers have signed 27-year-old right-hander Kenta Maeda to a contract. Not just any contract, but an eight-year contract.

“We are excited to be bringing Kenta Maeda into the Dodger organization,” Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “We have had the chance to scout him extensively in Japan and on the international stage and believe he has all the tools to be a successful Major League starting pitcher. We were honored to hear of his strong desire to be a Dodger and that only added to our motivation to bring him on board. We look forward to Kenta adding another chapter to the Dodgers’ global legacy and to him strengthening our ballclub in the years ahead.”

Listed at a slender 6 feet, 154 pounds, Maeda follows a line of pitchers from Japan including Hideo Nomo, Kazuhisa Ishii, Takashi Saito and Hideki Kuroda. He has a 2.39 career ERA in 1,509 2/3 career innings with the Hiroshima Carp of the Japan Central League, striking out 7.4 batters per nine innings.

By comparison, Kuroda — who also pitched for Hiroshima, from 1997-2007 — had an ERA of 3.69 and 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings when he joined the Dodgers at age 33. Kuroda went on to have a 3.73 ERA (3.59 FIP) in his first season with Los Angeles and 3.45 ERA (3.55 FIP) in four seasons.

In 2015, Maeda’s ERA was 2.14 in 206 1/3 innings — his seventh consecutive season with at least 175 innings. He was fourth in the league in ERA and third in strikeouts, and won his second Sawamura Award, the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young Award.

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