Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Mike Scioscia

Catcher steals make a rare return for Dodger offense

LOS ANGELES DODGERS V ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Howie Kendrick, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andrew Toles, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Scott Kazmir, P

By Jon Weisman

In the very first game after A.J. Ellis stole his first base in the Majors on Wednesday, Yasmani Grandal stole his first base as a Dodger on Friday.

Grandal, whose steal came in his 191st game as a Dodger, did have three thefts with the Padres in 2014. Nevertheless, to say this week’s sequence of events was unusual is an understatement.

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1976: ‘Dodgers of the Future’

Dodgers of the Future, 1976

Forty years ago in the official team program, here’s what the Dodgers’ top prospects looked like, from the familiar to the forgotten.

— Jon Weisman

Video: Angels pay tribute to Vin Scully

[mlbvideo id=”716040583″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

In a quiet, semi-private but warm gathering before Thursday’s game, the Angels honored Vin Scully, who made his last regular-season trip to Anaheim as a broadcaster.

Former Dodgers including Mike Scioscia, Alfredo Griffin, Mickey Hatcher and Ron Roenicke were joined by Mike Trout and Jared Weaver in making a lovely presentation.

Fabian Ardaya of MLB.com has a story to complement the video above, and Jon SooHoo has a picture at the Dodgers Photog Blog.

— Jon Weisman

Valenzuela, Scioscia in special event January 21

Scioscia congratulates Fernando

By Jon Weisman

There are limited spaces available for “An Epic Evening with Mike Scioscia and Fernando Valenzuela,” taking place January 21 and hosted by Art of the Game at a vintage hotel in Hollywood.

The evening includes:

  • On-stage Q&A with Scioscia and Valenzuela
  • Professional 11″ x 14″ photo of you and your guest, along with Scioscia and Valenzuela
  • Limited edition, licensed photo canvas signed by both greats
  • Valet parking, buffet dinner and open bar

For more information, visit Art of the Game.

Also: See below for Valenzuela’s responses in today’s live #Ask34 Twitter chat …

[tweet 677573676997316608 hide_thread=’true’]

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Suspended game returns memories of Chicago 1982

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Washington Nationals
Reuss headshotBy Jon Weisman

In every issue of Dodger Insider magazine, we run a boxscore of the month, and the one for August happens to tie in with what’s happening in Washington right now.

Dodgers 2, Cubs 1
August 17-18, 1982

It began innocuously enough one afternoon in Chicago. Ex-Dodger Bill Buckner drove in a run for the Cubs with a groundout in the bottom of the first. Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia tied the game in the top of the second with an RBI single. But no more runs would cross the plate that day, all the way into the top of the 18th, when darkness at the lightless Wrigley Field forced the game to be suspended until after the next sunrise.

When the teams reunited, the Dodgers’ scheduled starting pitcher for Tuesday, Jerry Reuss, took the mound in relief. By the time it was over, after the Dodgers pushed across a run in the top of the 21st inning on Dusty Baker’s sacrifice fly, pitchers Fernando Valenzuela and Bob Welch had both played outfield. Reuss got the win – and then another when he pitched five innings that afternoon in a 7-4 Dodger victory that was over in 2:21.

I bring this up because I can’t help imagining Clayton Kershaw repeating the Reuss ruse of getting all his innings out of the way at first by starting the day in relief.

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Derrel Thomas, true emergency catcher extraordinaire

Though he caught only six games in a 15-year career, Derrel Thomas embraces the opportunity to go behind the plate, such as at the Dodgers' Old-Timers Game on May 16. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Though he caught in only six games of a 15-season MLB career, Derrel Thomas embraces the opportunity to go behind the plate, such as at the Dodgers’ Old-Timers Game on May 16. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Though it’s doubtful he’ll ever be called upon for this, especially with Austin Barnes on his way to Los Angeles, Kiké Hernandez has become the Dodgers’ emergency catcher. Just in case, Hernandez caught a bullpen session from Brett Anderson this afternoon.

The last non-catcher the Dodgers have really needed to use behind the plate was Derrel Thomas in 1980. This has always been one of my favorite Dodger stories, not only because it was so unlikely for even a proven utility player like Thomas to go behind the plate, but because it wasn’t a one-time thing.

With Steve Yeager nursing an infected elbow and Triple-A starting catcher Mike Scioscia recovering from a broken finger, Joe Ferguson had to leave in the fourth inning of an April 15, 1980 game at San Diego with a back problem. Thomas went behind the plate for the first time in a game at any level — with knuckleballer Charlie Hough on the mound, no less — and stayed there for the next 31 innings.

“He weighs 150 pounds,” wrote Mike Littwin of the Times that week. “A catcher’s gear weighs almost that much.”

Using Yeager’s glove, Thomas was behind the plate for 137 batters and had four passed balls. No one tried to steal against him on April 15 or April 16, but on April 17, with the slow delivery of Don Sutton 60-and-a-half feet away, Houston stole seven bases, two shy of the Dodger record at the time by a Dodger opponent. However, Thomas did throw out Enos Cabell trying to steal second in the sixth inning, for the only caught stealing of Thomas’ backstop career.

Despite his objective struggles behind the plate, the Dodgers adored Thomas’ effort.

“Show me another guy who could do what he did today,” Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda told Littwin. “I’ve been in baseball nearly all my life, and I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m so grateful to him. He’s a great athlete, but more than that, he’s courageous.”

Said Yeager: “You have to handle pitchers and you have to keep the ball in front of you. I told Derrel a couple of things last night and he remembered. He’s a fast learner, and he’s got a lot of guts. All things considered, he did a great job back there. Hey, I weigh 215 pounds. When’s the last time you saw a 150-pound catcher?”

Here’s more from Littwin:

As Thomas, his uniform caked with dirt, sweat dripping from his brow, limped into the clubhouse, someone asked him how he felt. “I feel, he said, like I should be dead.”

His legs might have been. At that point, he couldn’t have jumped over a chalk baseline.

“I didn’t sleep last night,” he said. “I was too nervous. There are so many things to remember. When they got those guys on base, I just tried to stay relaxed and remember what Yang (Yeager) had told me to do.

“I didn’t care if they stole 30 bases, as long as we won.”

The Dodgers won two of Thomas’ three starts at catcher. Yeager, who had been sidelined since April 13, returned to the starting lineup April 19. Scioscia would then be called up April 20 to make his Major League debut.

After catching the ninth inning of a 2-0, one-hit loss to J.R. Richard of the Astros on April 19 (Yeager had gone out for a pinch-hitter), the Dodgers never needed to use Thomas behind the plate again. But it wasn’t the last time the Dodgers saw him with the tools of ignorance.

In the last season of his 15-year Major League career, as a 34-year-old with Philadelphia, Thomas entered the game behind the plate after Phillies catcher Ozzie Virgil left in the top of the eighth inning of an August 21, 1985 game against visiting Los Angeles with a bruised wrist. In the bottom of that same inning, Thomas hit a three-run homer off Fernando Valenzuela — the 43rd and final home run of Thomas’ big-league career.

It also meant that after previously homering as a first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman, left fielder, center fielder, right fielder and pinch-hitter, Derrel Thomas had also hit one out as, yes, a catcher.

In case you missed it: Scioscia catches Hershiser (smile)

LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM VS LOS ANGELES DODGERS

By Jon Weisman

Now, that was a nice battery. True or false: Mike Scioscia caught Orel Hershiser’s first Major League start. Answer below.

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President’s Night links


Because the night belongs to links …
Because the night belongs to us …

  • ESPNLosAngeles.com’s new Dodger blog, Dodger Report, has launched with the great Tony Jackson at the helm. Here’s his introductory post.
  • Here’s video of Vin Scully at Spring Training 1988, supplied by Kevin Kaduk of Big League Stew.
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: a nice salute to photographer Herb Scharfman.
  • Recently in Jon SooHoo: Darren Dreifort 1998 pretends to be Mike Scioscia 1988.
  • Yep, Manny Ramirez and the A’s have agreed to that minor-league deal, for whom he’ll be eligible to play after serving out a 50-game suspension. Here’s reaction and analysis from David Schoenfield of ESPN.com and Eno Sarris of Fangraphs.
  • Ned Colletti would like to sign Andre Ethier to a long-term contract, he told Fox in this video interview embedded by Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now.
  • Steve Yeager has taken the role of special-assignment catching instructor, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Kansas City reliever Jonathan Broxton (yep, that looks funny) seems confident enough about the 2012 season, in this Associated Press story.
  • As expected, Blake DeWitt has remained in the Cub organization, notes MLB Trade Rumors.
  • DodgerFan.net has a roundup of stories on several other new ex-Dodgers, such as Rafael Furcal.
  • Dodger minor leaguer Blake Smith was interviewed by Dustin Nosler of Feelin’ Kinda Blue.
  • Former Dodger manager Jim Tracy has received, unexpectedly in my mind, an “indefinite” contract extension from Colorado.
  • The LFP found a great picture of Frank Howard, Gil Hodges and Gil Hodges Jr. from 1961.
  • Keith Olbermann explores a mystery about 1964 Mickey Mantle baseball cards at Baseball Nerd.
  • Robert Lipsyte penned a first-person remembrance for the New York Times on the Mets’ first Spring Training, 50 years ago.
  • Such sad news: Fox sportscaster Chris Myers’ 19-year-old son died in a car crash last week (via FishbowlLA). Please keep their family and friends in your thoughts.

Scully wants to keep working


Above: Vin Scully talks in 2008 about meeting John Wooden.

Vin Scully has an interview in the March issue of Golf Digest (for now, I believe, it’s available only in print). Kevin Roderick of L.A. Observed links and excerpts:

Some people die twice: once when they retire, and again when they actually pass away. Fear of the first one is a big incentive for me to keep working. Players, writers, people who work at the ballpark and front office, when I quit I know I’ll never see them again. I’ve never been the type to come to the ballpark and hang out; I’ve gone to one game in the last 60 years that I wasn’t working. I keep working because I don’t want to lose my friends.

It’s an interesting passage, particularly for “when I quit I know I’ll never see them again,” since this would be up to Scully to a large extent. One could easily envision the kind of pilgrimages that John Wooden was the centerpiece of.

Roderick also notes this Scully quip about having bad teeth through the years: “if I were to write my autobiography — which I will never do, by the way — I would title it, ‘My Life in Dentistry.'”

Scully’s first Spring Training broadcast appearance will be March 17. Eric Stephen of breaks down the Dodger exhibition broadcast schedule at True Blue L.A.

Elsewhere …

  • TMZ has posted audio of a 911 call reporting James Loney’s freeway crash in November. No matter the legal disposition of the case, if you were there, it sounds like it must have been utterly frightening.
  • The Dodgers signed 37-year-old Jamey Wright to a minor-league deal. Wright hasn’t been a starting pticher since 2007, but his past season-and-a-half out of the Seattle bullpen was passable in a Mike MacDougal sense. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweeted that Wright can opt out of his contract in late March.
  • Former Dodger shortstop Bill Russell can be seen with former Yankee counterpart Bucky Dent in this commercial (posted by Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy), airing at 1981 World Series time, for Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo. Dent sounds a little like a grown-up Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
  • Baly had a pleasant surprise when he went to the Dodger caravan Tuesday — he was there to see Clayton Kershaw as Kershaw’s new contract with the Dodgers was being announced.
  • Daily News writer Tom Hoffarth is auctioning an autographed copy of Kershaw’s book, “Arise,” at eBay, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to support Friends of St. Lawrence – Watts Youth Center, which empowers the children and families of Watts through educational, advocacy, and enrichment programs.
  • David Schoenfield of ESPN’s Sweet Spot looks at historical comparables for Kershaw. It starts on a downbeat note but gets more whammo after that. Schoenfield also invites you to an over-under game on Kershaw’s 2012 ERA here.
  • Evan Bladh passes along the story of Brooklyn Dodger batboy Charlie DiGiovanna at Opinion of Kingman’s Performance.
  • “What happened to the spitball?” Jonah Keri asks (and answers) at Grantland.
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: Mike Scioscia and Gary Carter together at Spring Training, February 1991.
  • Aaron Miles, who waited until this time last year to sign with the Dodgers, is waiting even longer for a 2012 contract this time around.
  • Not every baseball parking story has Frank McCourt’s name attached. “Fans of the New York Yankees may soon have to pay as much as $55 to park at Yankee Stadium thanks to the poor planning by New York City, the Yankees and a private firm that is running low on cash,” writes Rob Iracane at Big League Stew.

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