Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Matt Kemp (Page 4 of 14)

Matt Kemp has the highest career BABIP in Dodger history — what does this mean?

DETROIT TIGERS VS LOS ANGELES DODGERSBy Jon Weisman

If it’s better to be lucky than good, it’s best to be both.

Matt Kemp has the interesting dichotomy so far this year of a .194 batting average with an .890 OPS, thanks to the fact that he has seven walks, three homers and two doubles but only one single in 38 plate appearances.

That compelled me to do some poking around, and among other things, I found that in the early going this young season, Kemp is both walking (18.4 percent of the time) and striking out (34.2 percent) at the highest rates of his career. Of his 38 plate appearances, he has only put the ball in play 15 times. (That’s 39 percent, compared with a 64 percent career rate entering this season.)

Of those 15 times, he has gotten only the aforementioned double doubles and single single, for a .200 batting average on balls in play.  That’s on the unlucky side. I remembered that early in his career, Kemp had high BABIP numbers — folks who followed such things were always wondering if his BABIP would hold up as he got older — so I decided to see when the decline happened.

It never did.

Going into this season, Kemp had a career BABIP of .352. (It has since dropped to .351.) I’m no super-expert on stats, but this struck me as extraordinary.  And, in fact, it’s tops in Dodger history.

Here’s a chart showing the best BABIP hitters since the team moved to Los Angeles:

BABIP Dodgers

Kemp is also near the top in the Majors over the past 10 years.

BABIP

If Derek Jeter’s presence on this chart is any indication, BABIP is not necessarily something that declines significantly in your 30s. (Jeter was at .364 in his 20s, .345 since.)  We’ll see, of course, in Kemp’s case. But I wouldn’t worry about that .194 batting average too much, or in any case, I’d be much happier about his returning power numbers than sad about the arguably temporary loss of singles.

Numbers from another planet

[mlbvideo id=”32068741″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

By Jon Weisman

Some jottings before turning out the lights on the weekend, a most successful one for the Dodgers.

  • If someone had offered you a 9-4 start in a season that began with a cross-globe trip to Australia and was soon followed by injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Brian Wilson, I’m guessing you’d take that, right? Only surprising Milwaukee, winners of nine games in a row en route to a 10-2 record, has a better record in the Majors than the Dodgers.
  • The Dodgers’ offense roared this weekend in their three game sweep of Arizona, climaxing in today’s 8-6 victory (recapped here by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com), but it’s not that much of a surprise that the team would have an easier time scoring at Chase Field than Petco Park or even Dodger Stadium.
  • Similarly, Phoenix is going to be a tougher place to hold a lead, so don’t get too angry at the Dodger bullpen.
  • Not that I’m looking to take anything away from Adrian Gonzalez, who has an extra-base hit in eight consecutive games, one shy of a team record. Tied for the MLB lead in home runs at five until Mark Trumbo launched No. 6 today off Jamey Wright, Gonzalez is slugging .680 in 2014. Last year, Gonzalez hit his fifth home run in his 42nd start, May 25.
  • Tonight’s random trivia: The Dodgers have scored eight runs in two consecutive games. Only two seasons ago, they tallied exactly eight runs in three consecutive games.
  • Meet your MLB stolen base leader, Dee Gordon, with nine steals in 11 games. What a display he put on today. And in addition to his four steals, he also walked twice, raising his on-base percentage to .457, eighth in the Majors.
  • Also, this, from Jon SooHoo:
    LOS ANGELES DODGERS AT ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
  • Meet your MLB co-leader in doubles, Juan Uribe, who has a .547 slugging percentage and a .358 OBP despite going the entire season to date without a walk. Yeah, I know — but don’t worry about it now.
  • You want to use a .154 batting average to judge Matt Kemp, be my guest. I’ll take the .829 OPS. After 31 plate appearances, Kemp has 14 total bases but has yet to hit a single.
  • Making his debut for Albuquerque today, Alex Guerrero had a three-run homer, double and single in four at-bats, as Christopher Jackson notes at Examiner.com.
  • One more note from the minors: Joc Pederson has a .511 on-base percentage and .714 slugging this season for the Isotopes. He has 13 hits, six of them for extra bases. But he has yet to drive in another runner. He has three RBI, each coming on a solo home run.
  • The Dodgers struck out 16 times today, tied for third-most in team history (the record of 20, you should recall, was set last year before Yasiel Puig hit his walkoff home run to beat Cincinnati, 1-0). Never before had the Dodgers struck out 16 times in a nine-inning game and won.
  • The Dodgers have now struck out 123 times in 13 games, or 9.46 times per game. a pace that would give them 1,533 strikeouts in their 162-game season. That would break the franchise record of 1,190 by more than 300. I guess I should be more worried about this, but I’m going to assume that it will taper off, unless you’re also willing to grant that all the superb offensive numbers will also stick.

Where are the Matt Kemp doubters tonight?

Kemp HRBy Jon Weisman

The tweets and comments you would see ridiculing Matt Kemp over the past year and a half were predictable, given the wave of negativity that can flourish online, but still plenty vexing.

Kemp would get torched for not being productive enough, regardless of how healthy he was. He would get torched for struggling to stay healthy at all.

His track record, seemingly, was worth nothing. The “What have you done for me lately?” gang never had it so good.

Tonight’s two home runs, two rousingly authoritative home runs in the Dodgers’ 6-2 romp over the Giants (recapped by Earl Bloom for MLB.com) don’t ensure that Kemp will regain his near-MVP form over the long haul. But it does put a spotlight on how silly it was for anyone to give up on him.

Kemp, who had played 399 consecutive games before the series of injuries began, could arguably be his own worst enemy — racing into walls, sliding awkwardly into home, trying to come back too soon. None of these plays spoke poorly of his desire or the fundamental talent he brings to the field.

As his comeback entered its most trying phase, over the winter when he couldn’t even run, the catcalls might have reached their peak. How frustrating it must have been for Kemp, to have to issue “Bull Durham”-esque “I’m just working” quotes for the most part because anytime he expressed a feeling about his true value, he risked being labeled selfish.

Maybe Kemp doesn’t want to sit on the bench. Maybe he doesn’t express that feeling well 100 percent of the time. Should that, or the injuries, have meant that he should be tossed aside like garbage?

Kemp had earned some rope, some patience, some faith, more than some people were willing to give him.

It was just one game of two homers tonight. It was just one series with 10 total bases, a walk and a 1.242 OPS. No one knows how many games he will play this year. But I bet more than a few people who doubted him are thinking twice now.

* * *

Tonight’s game generated one prize-winning bit of trivia. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Dodgers had their most hits since at least 1900 without a single. The Dodgers had three doubles and four homers, evaporating their previous record of three doubles and two homers on June 25, 2002 in a 4-0 win over the Rockies at Dodger Stadium.

Not only that, the Dodgers struck out no fewer than 16 batters — half by Zack Greinke, the last four of them on a called third strike.

Chris Withrow added three more while nearly tying a record himself, using only 10 pitches to strike out the side. And how about Withrow this season? For a guy who was considered likely to start 2014 in the minors, allowing a single and a walk to the 17 batters he has faced while striking out eight looks pretty good.

Kenley Jansen also struck out the side in wrapping up the victory.

* * *

Yasiel Puig is day to day with a strained thumb ligament, according to MLB.com.

April 4 pregame: Happy Home Opening Day

Giants at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Dee Gordon, 2B
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P

By Jon Weisman

Though Matt Kemp has been activated, he is not in today’s starting lineup. As SportsNet LA’s Allanna Rizzo notes on Twitter, Don Mattingly said that he hopes to ease Kemp into action in the later innings today and that Kemp would likely start on Saturday. Mike Baxter has been optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.

The Dodgers have brought out the same starting eight position players in the same batting order for the fourth consecutive game, the first time the team has done this since they put out this group for five consecutive games, from May 12-16, 2009:

Juan Pierre, LF
Rafael Furcal, SS
Orlando Hudson, 2B
Andre Ethier, RF
Russell Martin, C
James Loney, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Casey Blake, 3B

In other notes, Hyun-Jin Ryu will “join Van Lingle Mungo (1937) and Don Drysdale (1965) as the only Dodgers pitchers to start in three of the first six games since 1914,” according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.

Update: Matt Kemp will start and bat second after all, playing center field in place of Yasiel Puig, who was scratched after showing up late today. Andre Ethier will play right field.

Matt Kemp, ready to rock

[mlbvideo id=”19534345″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

By Jon Weisman

The Bison’s back in town.

According to the Dodgers’ PR department, Matt Kemp is expected to be reinstated from the disabled list prior to today’s game (though not in today’s starting lineup),” looking to make a fresh start after a series of injuries derailed most of his past two seasons.

“I’m as ready as I can be, and (I’m) excited to get out and compete again,” Kemp told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “I’ve done all the practicing I can do, I’ve done the rehab. I’ve busted my butt and now I hope all the work has paid off.”

LOS ANGELES DODGERS VS SAN DIEGO PADRES

Photos by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Coming off a near-MVP season in 2011, Kemp had a monstrous .446 on-base percentage and .726 slugging percentage and had played in 399 consecutive games, making a strong case as the best player in the game (watch the video above to refresh your memory of his prowess), when he went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

He has been beset by injuries to his hamstring, shoulder and ankle since then, lowering his production to a .330 OBP and .430 slugging in 145 games. That’s mostly due to the first three months of the 2013 season, the first three months he played after labrum surgery, when he had a .309 OBP and .355 slugging in 57 games. When he was able to get in the lineup in the second half of the season, he went 18 for 54 with four homers, a .400 OBP and .630 slugging.

Even in the post-injury portion of 2012, Kemp had a .332 OBP and .462 slugging with 11 homers in 72 games, production that most players would settle for.

[mlbvideo id=”27237653″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

How well Kemp will perform at the outset of his return is impossible to know, though isn’t that really true of any player? In any case, the time to find out, as Gurnick reports, is now.

Manager Don Mattingly said the club has rejected the thought of further Minor League rehab action for Kemp, even if it means the team must bite the bullet and let him work through the rust.

“Physically, in his mind, Matt feels he’s ready,” Mattingly said. “He’s said he’s not afraid to do all the things he has to do. In a sense, we can only trust him. He’s been honest with us. He doesn’t want to get embarrassed. He wants to do well.”

Kemp understands the skepticism.

“I just want them to have faith in me and trust what I say,” he said. “I’m ready. I told them at the beginning of Spring Training, ‘If I’m not ready, I’m not going out there.’ I’m telling the truth if I say I can compete with those guys. I have no doubt at all. I’ve had good years. Everybody has their own opinion, but I know the type of player I am capable of being. Everybody has doubters, but I don’t let that affect me.

“Honestly, my legs are in great shape. I’ve done all the tests, but you can never simulate Major League game situations. I’ve gone first to third, I’ve been sliding, I definitely can do that. It’s all cool. My shoulder feels great, that’s the least of my concerns. The focus on that is over.”

If you argue that it’s too optimistic to expect a return to his 2011 form, it’s also too pessimistic to assume Kemp can’t surpass his 2013 performance. There’s no doubt about the effort Kemp has put into a long and excruciating rehab, or his desire to be as good as he ever was. It’s hard not to be eager to see what happens.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS VS HOUSTON ASTROS

In case you missed it: Kemp, Beckett and more on Ryu

LOS ANGELES DODGERS VS SAN DIEGO PADRES

By Jon Weisman

Turnabout is fair play. Today, the other MLB teams get their turn, and we watch.

As far as the National League West goes, 1993 expansion partners Colorado and Miami (nee Florida) play at 4:05 p.m., with San Francisco at Arizona at 6:40 p.m.

Meanwhile, in the Dodgers’ world …

Read More

March 28 pregame: Matt Kemp raring to go

Arizona Diamondbacks vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Angels at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Dee Gordon, 2B
Zach Lee, P

By Jon Weisman

Matt Kemp is looking like a better and better bet to be activated from the disabled list on his first day of eligibility, in time for the Dodgers’ home opener April 4.

“I’ve progressed a lot since they left for Australia,” Kemp said. “I’m ready to go. … All I’ve been doing is working. What they were doing in Spring Training, I kept doing in Arizona.

“I feel really good. I feel really confident. It’s going to be fun get back out here with the guys.”

Kemp indicated that he had checked off every box of his long rehab, including the last hurdle of running, and was even stealing bases in Arizona. He had been forced to learn patience through his long comeback process, and is eager to reap the benefits.

“I wouldn’t be playing if I wasn’t 100 percent,” Kemp said.

In case you missed it: Oh Captain, my Captain

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Arizona Diamondbacks
By Jon Weisman

While Matt Kemp could be activated in time for the Dodgers’ home opener April 4, it’s not clear when Hyun-Jin Ryu will next pitch.

Ryu injured his right Captain of the Toes on the play pictured above, making a sudden stop at third base on Dee Gordon’s double. As Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports, Ryu would slot in for the third game of the San Diego series April 2 (after Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke), but that start could go to Dan Haren or Paul Maholm.

Kemp, meanwhile, has had no setbacks, Gurnick reports, and is playing six innings a game now in minor-league affairs. The Dodgers just want to make sure he’s completely confident before activating him.

More from Gurnick:

The Dodgers will play a simulated game at Dodger Stadium, on Wednesday. Mattingly said it will last four or five innings, and it is mostly being held to keep the relievers sharp. He said his regulars will average three or four at-bats in the first two Freeway Series games Thursday and Friday, but they will back off in Saturday night’s game because the season resumes Sunday night in San Diego.

Elsewhere …

  • A.J. Ellis is working on pitch framing, he explains in an interview with Mike Petriello for Fangraphs.
  • At Blue Heaven, Ernest Reyes has this discovery about long-ago Dodger reliever Ron Perranoski:”If Ron Perranoski were not a newspaper reader, he might have taken weeks to find out that the Cubs had dealt him to the Dodgers.  He was in the army then, and read about it in the sports page.  Nobody had told him.”
  • Reggie Smith hung a “Gone Fishin'” sign just before a 1980 MLB labor stoppage was averted — see it at the Times’ Framework blog.
  • Former Dodger reliever Matt Guerrier has had an interesting transactional week, as MLB Trade Rumors notes.
  • Former Dodger infielder Jamey Carroll was released by Washington.

In case you missed it: Spring Training’s eternal mysteries

By Jon Weisman

All that’s great and ugly about Spring Training, chapter whatever …

Zach Lee, looking stirrup-sharp, enters today’s Dodger game against the Diamondbacks in the top of the third inning and retires the first seven batters he faces. Five of the next six reach base, and what looks like a showcase outing turns into apparent mediocrity. But boy, he sure looked good before the roof (or, given the stakes, the pup tent) caved in.

This wasn’t the only classic Spring Training story of the day, which saw the Dodgers lose to Arizona, 9-2.  (Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has the game recap.) We also saw and heard tale of multiple players trying to overcome injury.

Zack Greinke made it through two innings of his start today and threw 14 more pitches in the bullpen afterward, but acknowledged that he still has a corner or two left to turn in his recovery from a calf injury, according to Gurnick. A small excerpt:

“I’d thought I’d be fine that day (of the injury), like 100 percent in a day or two,” he said. “It just hasn’t gotten better, it’s a 10 percent pace from what I was expecting. You know it’s there. If I did more than I’m ready to do, I’d be right back where I started. But it’s getting better every day and that’s the key.”

Speaking of revelations: Josh Beckett revealed that he caught his right thumb in a clubhouse door 10 days ago and that it is sprained. Beckett, who threw mostly fastballs while giving up three home runs in his most recent Spring Training outing Sunday, might skip his next start. From Gurnick:

Beckett has had previous problems with the inside ligament of the thumb.

“I come back from thoracic outlet surgery and this happens,” he said in frustration.

Then there’s Matt Kemp. Weird, but in a good way? That seems to be how to interpret Kemp’s evaluation of his first action of any kind in center field this year, in today’s minor-league intrasquad game. Dylan Hernandez of the Times relays the quotes:

“I feel a little weird still being out there, but I’m having a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m excited to be back on the field, just playing. That’s the process. We’re taking our time.”

Kemp was in center field for two innings.

“I’m still trying to get my legs under me,” he said. “I just wanted to feel good. The legs feel a little heavy and tired at times, but that comes with getting back into shape. You can lift as many weights as you want, but nothing prepares for the game speed out there on the baseball field.

All part of another Spring Training day. Only four of them left before the big club leaves Arizona for Australia.

* * *

  • The Dodgers’ schedule of minor-league Spring Training games was conveniently posted by Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.
  • I know I have no reason to be proud of this tweet — none — but I am.

You’d think it was Father’s Day

ties

By Jon Weisman

Why yes, I have noticed that a certain Even Steven approach to the Dodger exhibition season. Cyndi Lauper is putting out her new single, “Tie After Tie,” as we speak.

Today’s 8-8 deadlock with Oakland widened the Dodgers’ Cactus League record to 4-6-4 and gave them ties in nearly 30 percent of their contests. In their past 10 games, the Dodgers are 2-4-4. Their past six games have been as easy as 1-2-3.

Last year, Los Angeles played 15 extra-inning games out of 162 in the regular season.

The Dodgers allowed a game-tying five runs in the eighth inning today, but it could have been worse. Brian Wilson, still mixing the occasional knuckleball, had a visit to the mound from an assistant trainer in the eighth inning (no, I’m not making a connection there), but the team reported no trouble to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

Wilson was charged with two runs, while Carlos Frias, who retired none of his four batters, was charged with three.

Los Angeles looked great at the outset, with Andre Ethier lovingly smashing a three-run home run in the first inning, Juan Uribe following with a solo shot, and Hyun-Jin Ryu scattering a run and four baserunners over five innings, striking out four.

[mlbvideo id=”31494067″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

Miguel Olivo added a three-run double (not to mention a stolen base) in helping boost the Dodgers’ lead to 8-3. In addition, J.P. Howell and Dee Gordon each turned in fine defensive plays.

[mlbvideo id=”31496463″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

[mlbvideo id=”31495283″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

Following the game today, the Dodgers optioned pitcher Matt Magill and reassigned Frias, J.C. Boscan, Brendan Harris and Clint Robinson to minor-league camp. Harris is the second of the pre-Spring Training infield candidates to miss the cut, following Justin Sellers, who was sent to Cleveland.

Magill has had a nice exhibition season, with six strikeouts against five baserunners in 5 2/3 innings.

And, a postscript: I know the story here is Zack Greinke and Matt Kemp progressing in their rehab, but what really tantalized me was the thought of seeing Kemp bat against Julio Urias. The 17-year-old gave up a sacrifice fly to Kemp in the intrasquad game, but also struck him out.

In short, call it Even Steven.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prvm5ZFPIrE&w=550&h=413]

March 9 pregame: Kershaw and Opening Day, together again

Hanley locker

Giants vs. Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Chone Figgins, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Justin Turner, 3B
Mike Baxter, LF
Alex Guerrero, 2B
Miguel Rojas, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

It’s official: Clayton Kershaw has been named the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter in Australia on March 22, where he will be followed in the second game by Hyun-Jin Ryu.

“Kershaw will be the first Dodgers pitcher to make four consecutive Opening Day starts since Ramon Martinez from 1995-98,” writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “Don Sutton has the Los Angeles record with seven (1972-78).”

Kershaw and Ryu are scheduled to face Patrick Corbin and Trevor Cahill.

In addition, though Matt Kemp isn’t expected to make the trip to Australia, Mattingly has said that the outfielder is close to making it into Spring Training action.

“We’re seeing him take fly balls, getting jumps,” said Mattingly (via Gurnick). “He’s swinging the bat good. It won’t be long before he’s in a game.”

A few other notes:

  • Kershaw today will be the first Dodger starter to bat for himself in a game this year.
  • Prized infield prospect Corey Seager is suiting with the big club for a Cactus League game for the first time today.
  • Among those scheduled to follow Kershaw on the mound today are Javy Guerra and Red Patterson, each of whom working on shutout streaks of at least four innings in Spring Training.
  • At this morning’s L.A. Marathon, which began at Dodger Stadium, J.P. Howell’s wife Heather ran to raise support and awareness to counter human trafficking. From the Dodger press notes: “Howell is affiliated with ‘Run for Hope’ at the marathon and is running for two shelters located in Southern California: one is a 72-hour rescue center, and the other a long-term rehabilitation and restoration program that provides for intense counseling, medical, and legal needs of victims, as well as GED and job search.”

March 3 pregame: Figgins of our imagination

San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers vs. A’s, 12:05 p.m.
Chone Figgins, 3B
Andre Ethier, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Nick Buss, RF
Miguel Olivo, DH
Dee Gordon, 2B
(Clayton Kershaw, P)

By Jon Weisman

Andre Ethier takes a turn at center field, while the wheel of Chone Figgins lands on third base. At this point, I won’t be satisfied unless Figgins plays at least eight positions this spring.

Scheduled to follow Clayton Kershaw on the mound today are Brandon League, Seth Rosin (he of the five strikeouts in two innings Wednesday), Pedro Baez, Carlos Frias and Jarret Martin.

By the way, with Zack Greinke missing his scheduled start Tuesday, that game against the Mariners will become a full bullpen day for the Dodgers, with Brian Wilson scheduled to be the first pitcher. Ken Gurnick has more on Greinke and other less-than-100-percent Dodgers at MLB.com.

One more link for the morning: Matt Kemp just needs those wheels unleashed, because his swing is back, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com.

Mark McGwire joined the Dodgers as hitting coach more than a year after Matt Kemp nearly won the Most Valuable Player Award in 2011, and the swing McGwire saw last year was very different from the powerful and unusually high finish McGwire recalled from the past.

McGwire explains it this way: A right-handed hitter drives with his left arm — his lead arm – and steers with his right. When Kemp was at his best, he had been able to lift and drive the ball to right-center field. But last year, Kemp still seemed to be recovering from the shoulder surgery he had in the fall of 2012, and McGwire never really saw that classic Kemp finish. Rather, his front arm was noticeably lower in his follow-through, and, instead of lifting the ball, he tended to hit looping liners without much carry, a lingering sign that his repaired shoulder was not yet operating at 100 percent.

On Friday morning, before the Dodgers’ exhibition against the White Sox, McGwire saw that old swing again. …

March 1 pregame: Modest good news for Matt Kemp

Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers vs. Brewers, 12:05 p.m.

Carl Crawford, DH
Chone Figgins, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Brendan Harris, SS
Mike Baxter, LF
Dee Gordon, 2B
(Dan Haren, P)

By Jon Weisman

Matt Kemp will be able to take a step forward in his attempt to return to action, though there’s still a ways to go. Ken Gurnick has details at MLB.com:

… Kemp will increase his baseball activity after favorable results from an MRI of his healing left ankle, but there still is no timetable for his return to game action.

Kemp will step up agility work on the field, manager Don Mattingly said, and progressively ease into jogging.

“The main thing is, he’s got to speak up,” Mattingly said. “We expect some soreness, but it can’t be the wrong soreness. He’s at Step 5 of a seven-step progression.” …

Gurnick also has the latest on Zack Greinke here.

Rain is threatening play today, but if the game gets underway, Carl Crawford will return to the lineup (as designated hitter), while Chone Figgins will start at his third position in four games. Dan Haren is hoping to make his first Cactus League start of 2014.

In case you missed it: Kershaw, Rosin talk about their day

By Jon Weisman

I look at the image of Seth Rosin above and it makes me ask … at the end of the day, what’s it like — what’s it really like — to take the mound knowing that with virtually every outing, your future is on the line?

Let’s talk about your day …

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGcv9KSZgvA&w=420&h=315]

  • Clayton Kershaw on his performance this afternoon (via Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.):

    “I wasn’t throwing the ball where I wanted to. There were some off-speed pitches I needed to throw better; the one to (Miguel) Montero that I struck him out on, even that was up,” Kershaw said. “There’s just a lot to work on.”

  • Seth Rosin — same source:

    “I’m trying to establish (my changeup) as my out pitch. [Bullpen coach] Chuck Crim has given me tons of confidence with that,” Rosin said. “We’re working on that a lot, working on my mechanics daily. Everything is feeling like it’s getting better each day. Hopefully I can continue that trend, and keep improving.”

  • You can read the text from yet another great Vin Scully story, told on the launch of SportsNet LA, of how he once wore a Dodger uniform during a game, thanks to Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven.
  • Matt Kemp could get the go-ahead to increase his running after an MRI on Friday. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com explains.
  • The Dodgers’ annual open tryout will be held Thursday at 9 a.m. local time on the minor league side of Camelback Ranch. Those wishing to participate must not be enrolled in high school, on a collegiate roster or be under contract with any Major League club. Additional information is available on the Dodgers Scouting Hotline at (323) 224-1512.
  • Steve Yeager had 14 steals in his MLB career, but one of them was a steal of home. Stephen shares the story at True Blue L.A.
  • Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is serious about also pursuing baseball as a two-sport athlete, writes Andy Staples of SI.com.

In case you missed it: Upside down, boy you turn me

By Jon Weisman

One week until it’s time for Dodger (Spring Training) baseball …

  • Injury updates on several Dodgers are provided by Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. It could be a couple of weeks before we know more about Matt Kemp.

    … Kemp has had monthly MRI exams since having surgery to remove torn cartilage in his left ankle in October. Mattingly said the last exam was roughly two weeks ago, so we could have another two weeks or so before hearing anything new. …

  • More encouraging news — and a great quote — are coming from Josh Beckett and Dan Haren, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN LosAngeles.

    … “I said, ‘Did you ever dream you’d be watching a guy with a beard like Brian Wilson pitch with Sandy Koufax standing 10 feet from you?’” Beckett said. “Dan Haren’s like, ‘Yeah, it seems like there should be a unicorn somewhere.’” …

  • Since before the beginning of Spring Training, it’s been apparent that there might not be a full-time starter at second base come March 22. As Saxon and Stephen report, nothing has changed on that count.
  • Proclamation time:
  • “There’s no reason not to be confident” in Paco Rodriguez, despite the fact that he ran out of steam last fall, Don Mattingly told Ken Gurnick of MLB.comalong with Stephen.
  • In this Gurnick news feature about Don Mattingly, managers and long-term contracts comes this tidbit: “Jamey Wright has played for 29 managers in his 21 professional seasons.”
  • Yasiel Puig’s signing could have an impact for the Dodgers’ future international efforts, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.

    … “The way it works down there, [amateur] players come to tryouts at your camp, and we had a hard time getting players to come to the academy [in the Dominican Republic] until we signed Puig,” (Ned) Colletti said. “I was down there about three weeks ago or so, and it was probably the best group of players that I’ve seen. A lot of it has to do with our ability to spend, and we’ve increased our scouting internationally three-fold from where it was. We have the finances to be competitive with players from Cuba and amateurs in other countries. Puig was a very key sign for us in more ways than just his talent.”

  • Tommy Davis is the latest to be featured in Ernest Reyes’ 1961 Union Oil Family Booklet series at Blue Heaven.
  • Joe Morgan talked with Bill James? It’s more than 80 minutes (via Baseball Think Factory), but this I gotta hear. “A lot of you may not know him as well as I do,” Morgan said, “but he is the father of sabermetrics, so to speak, and a guy that I really have a lot of admiration for. I don’t agree with a lot of sabermetrics people, but I’ve rarely disagreed with Bill.”

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