January 2014

‘Extremely limited’ number of Dodger season tickets go back on sale

By Jon Weisman

After pausing sales of season tickets earlier this week, the Dodgers are opening the door again — ever so slightly.

“Upon conclusion of this week’s select-a-seat event and servicing upgrades of existing season seat holders, the Dodgers have re-assessed availability and are reintroducing season ticket sales on an extremely limited basis beginning immediately,” Dodger vice president of ticket sales David Siegel said this evening. “It was important to us to do this in time for Dodgers FanFest this weekend.

“Season seat sales were temporarily halted on Wednesday because we had exceeded our supply of seats originally earmarked for season sale. After carefully evaluating the supply and our commitments, we made a determination to reintroduce season ticket packages with full season seat holder benefits, including full postseason rights. We have re-opened areas where we feel we can now sell without greatly hindering individual sales and postseason requirements. We are making the tickets available for a wide range of budgets with prices between $12- $140 per ticket. ”

Alex Guerrero on Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero plays a fishing game with a child in Pasadena during the Dodgers' "Pitching in the Community" caravan.  Cary Osborne, Los Angeles Dodgers

Alex Guerrero plays a fishing game with a child in Pasadena during the Dodgers’ Pitching in the Community caravan.

By Cary Osborne

You’ve likely never seen new Dodger second baseman Alex Guerrero play baseball. So who better to tell you what kind of player he is than the Cuban import himself?

“I play calm, under control,” Guerrero said Friday during his first public appearance as a Dodger. “Hitting, running, fielding, I like it all.  I realize the importance isn’t about being exciting, exciting. I just want to cover my bases and get the fundamentals down.”

Guerrero joined many of his new teammates on the Dodgers’ annual community service caravan “Pitching in the Community,” making early stops on Friday at Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena and at gang intervention and rehabilitation center Homeboy Industries in Downtown Los Angeles.

As part of Los Angeles got to meet Guerrero for the first time, so did his new teammates. Dodger catcher Tim Federowicz and Paco Rodriguez were two of the first to chat with him in the morning in Pasadena and beginning the basics of getting to know him.

Guerrero arrived in the United States about a month ago and has been working out with Dodger instructors and former infielders Juan Castro and Jose Vizcaino in Arizona.

The 27-year-old played seven professional seasons for Las Tunas in the Cuban National Series from 2005-2012, earning three All-Star selections. During his final four seasons playing professionally, Guerrero never batted below .290, including posting a career-high .343 average in 2009-2010, while posting an on-base percentage above .400 each year and hitting 81 home runs in 327 games.

He also never played second base, which he acknowledges has been a transition.

“I’m really working hard at it,” Guerrero said. “It’s a good transition, but I’ve already been working for two weeks, so by the time Spring Training arrives it will be four weeks.”

As for goals — it was simple. Just be Alex.

“Always do what I’ve done, nothing more,” he said. “Be the person I was and have success.”

Dee Gordon, Paco Rodriguez bear witness to a transformation

Anna Parra and Dee Gordon

Anna Parra and Dee Gordon at Homeboy Industries

In the retail shop at Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention and rehabilitation center in downtown Los Angeles, a former drug dealer named Anna Parra told her moving story.

Dodgers Dee Gordon and Paco Rodriguez, volunteering during the Dodgers Pitching in the Community Caravan on Friday, were in the shop alongside Parra while she nearly teared up.

“I used to sell drugs,” Anna began. “I loved it. But Father Greg never gave up on me.”

Father Greg Boyle is the founder and director of Homeboy Industries, which through its skill training, businesses and other efforts, has turned around the lives of thousands of gang members.

Including Anna.

“I was making good money selling drugs,” she said. “Finally, I got pregnant and Father Greg asked me again. ‘There’s more to life, kiddo.'”

Reluctantly, Anna finally came to work at Homeboy and has turned her life around.

“Every day I get up, there’s going to be a better life,” she said.

Gordon said her story resonated with him.

“We all have family we take for granted,” Gordon said. “My family, we have a great life. For her to tell her story and be so passionate makes me take what I have not for granted.”

Anna’s story still has another hurdle. She said her brother is a gang member because he saw the life she led.

“My brother is gangbanging because that’s what I taught him,” she said holding back emotion, Gordon and Rodriguez by her side.

However, with great conviction, she ended by saying, “I’m going to succeed.”

In case you missed it: Chad Billingsley progressing


By Jon Weisman

Above, video from day three (Wednesday) of the Dodgers’ community caravan. Below, well, see for yourself …

  • Chad Billingsley has thrown four bullpen sessions as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Scott Elbert is expected to throw his first bullpen this week, writes Gurnick, who also discusses other pitchers appearing at the Dodgers’ “Young Guns” pitching minicamp at Camelback Ranch last week.
  • Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten spent seven minutes talking about the franchise with the guys on MLB Network’s Hot Stove Live.
  • Opening Day Countdown Down Under is an excitingly new and self-explanatory blog from MLB.com. Follow it as we count down the days to the Dodgers and Diamondbacks at Sydney.
  • Keith Law of ESPN.com discusses his list of the top 10 prospects in the Dodger organization. I neglected to mention the other day that Chris Anderson came in at No. 96 in Law’s top 100. Law said Anderson had a higher ceiling than Zack Lee “as a potential No. 2 starter if he can locate better and maintains his composure when something goes wrong behind him.”
  • When Hanley Ramirez increased his adjusted OPS from 105 in 2012 to 190 in 2013, it was the second-biggest increase in baseball of all-time, writes Andrew Grant of True Blue L.A.
  • Scott Lindholm of Beyond the Box Score compares Yasiel Puig’s first season to others with similar career starts.

Tweets from the Dodger caravan

By Jon Weisman

Today’s the day a bunch of current Dodgers join the team’s Pitching in the Community Caravan (presented by State Farm). You can follow along on Twitter, but I’ll update this post periodically with Josh Tucker’s tweets from the scene.

Guerra Puig

Dodgers 2014: Live. Breathe. Blue.

LBB

By Jon Weisman

Last year, the Dodgers offered “A Whole New Blue.” This year, the franchise is moving forward — to “Live. Breathe. Blue.”

That’s the advertising, marketing and digital campaign that will be incorporated across Los Angeles in 2014.

“Our new tagline encapsulates how each of our fans feel about the Dodgers organization,” Dodger executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen said. “We feel it is a natural evolution of last year’s slogan, ‘A Whole New Blue. “The Dodgers have given and will continue to give our fans reasons to believe in the team during the 2014 season.”

“Live. Breathe. Blue.” was created in partnership with Walton Isaacson, the club’s advertising agency.

Paperless tickets for Dodger plan holders coming in 2014

By Jon Weisman

Those who have purchased season tickets and mini plans for the Dodgers in 2014 will be introduced to a paperless ticket program that 17 other MLB teams have utilized. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has more.

… Among the fan enhancements will be the capability to load digital tickets on smartphones in the same manner that airlines provide for their ticketing. Automated turnstiles are being installed at Dodger Stadium to allow for even faster admission.

Among the features to be implemented by the new platform: digital/mobile delivery to ticket holders; state-of-the-art ticket management; integrated loyalty programs; and interactive seat maps.

“Paperless tickets are part of our heightened efforts to enable Dodger fans to manage their season seats better than ever,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said in a release.

“The benefits include: receiving your tickets sooner, being able to print them at home or at your office, the ease of transferring them to family, friends, business associates or clients with free forwarding, and the ability to use them via your smartphone to enter the stadium.” …

 

Paco Rodriguez’s inspirational delivery

Paco Rodriguez was one of baseball's top relief pitchers in 2013 in his first full season.   Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2013

Paco Rodriguez was one of baseball’s top relief pitchers in 2013 in his first full season.
Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers, LLC 2013

By Cary Osborne

Paco Rodriguez has never met Mark Mulder. He has never spoken on the phone to the veteran pitcher who’s making a comeback with the Angels in 2014. But the Dodger reliever is flattered by what Mulder said about him.

In a story that circulated this winter, Mulder, a two-time All-Star who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2008, said that his return to baseball was triggered by watching Rodriguez pitch.

Rodriguez, whose crane-like delivery is unorthodox yet effective, is well aware of Mulder’s comments.

“Out of everybody who plays baseball, he’s looking at my mechanics, and I think it’s an amazing honor just to be in talks with him,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t wait till Spring Training. Hopefully I’ll get to sit down and just talk about it, talk about baseball and his experiences — good and bad.

“It’s a great story in my opinion because I watched that guy when I was little. He was always one of those guys when he was going good not a lot of guys could hit him.”

Rodriguez’s delivery, where he lifts his knee to his chest, then raises the ball with his left hand as if showing the center fielder, is something he’s acquired since being picked by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. At the University of Florida, he had other quirks, such as lifting his front leg twice before delivering his pitch. But he was more deliberate to the plate.

“It actually happened during the big leagues,” Rodriguez said of his delivery. “The balls were a little slick, and I didn’t have the best grip. I had to get out early so I get on top of the ball. It’s something I put together, and it worked to have the season I had. It was something I thought I’d try out because I thought it would help me and it really helped me out tremendously.”

Rodriguez, who made his Major League debut in 2012 (the same year he was drafted out of the University of Florida), made the Opening Day roster for 2013 and stayed with the big league team the entire regular season. He ranked among the NL’s best relievers in ERA (2.32, 12th), opponents’ batting average (.164, third) and WHIP (0.90, sixth).

But in September, around the time his first child was born, he struggled for the first time in his Major League career. His WHIP in the month grew to 2.2, and he surrendered four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old left-hander’s hiccups continued in two outings in the National League Division Series against the Braves, and he was left of the NLCS roster.

That’s given him motivation.

“The biggest thing I learned was trying to make it through a full season and be as consistent as possible,” Rodriguez said. “I think that was the biggest challenge — trying to stay mentally prepared everyday and physically capable of performing every day. It’s something I’ve never really experience in my life.

“It prepared me to the point where now I know what I need to do to keep myself in the best mindset and physical ability to perform every day.”

Rodriguez has been working hard in Florida in the offseason and not changing too much. His aim is the same — be Paco, unorthodox delivery and all, and be effective.

Super Memories of Carroll, Dedeaux at Dodger Stadium

Picture 159By Mark Langill

Legendary USC baseball coach Rod Deadeaux had multiple connections with the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium, including his stint coaching the U.S. Olympic Team when it played there during the 1984 Olympics. A lesser-known but noteworthy moment involving Dedeaux also took place at Dodger Stadium, featuring one of this week’s Super Bowl coaches, Pete Carroll.

When his Seattle Seahawks face the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Carroll, the former USC football coach, could become the second person to win both a Rose Bowl and a Super Bowl, joining Dick Vermeil (1976 UCLA Bruins, 2000 St. Louis Rams). Carroll was hired by the Trojans in 2001 and soon developed a friendship with Dedeaux, whose USC teams won 11 NCAA titles during his 45-year tenure, including five consecutive championships between 1970 and 1974.

As a player, Dedeaux won the L.A. City batting title at Hollywood High, which earned him an autographed Babe Ruth bat as part of a contest sponsored by a local newspaper. After attending USC, Dedeaux appeared in two games at shortstop with the Brooklyn Dodgers at the end of the 1935 season before a back injury curtailed his career. He parlayed a $500 investment to start a trucking firm, D.A.R.T. (Dedeaux Automotive Repair and Transit), which became a successful regional business.

The coaches’ first meeting occurred at Dodger Stadium, when Dedeaux invited Carroll to attend a game in his Club Level seats. According to Justin Dedeaux, Rod’s son, Carroll wanted to hear the baseball coach’s philosophy.

“Pete is a great people person,” Justin Dedeaux said, “and he asked Dad, ‘How did you do it? How did you win so many times?’ He was all ears, and it was fun to be able to listen to the both of them discuss their theories about winning and working with teams. They remained friends for the next few years, and the last photo Dad ever posed for was with Pete at the USC-UCLA football luncheon in 2005. He suffered a stroke later that day when he returned home.”

Rod Dedeaux passed away at age 91 on January 5, 2006.

A statue of Dedeaux will be unveiled at the baseball stadium that bears his name on the USC campus on February 16. The Sunday afternoon ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m. and will be part of the festivities before the USC-Northwestern game. The statue dedication also coincides with the 100th anniversary of Dedeaux’s birth in New Orleans on Feb. 17, 1914.

‘New Girl’ Super Bowl episode features Clayton Kershaw

Image: Patrick McElhenney/Fox

Image Credit: Patrick McElhenney/Fox

By Josh Tucker

New Girl trioClayton Kershaw will appear on Sunday’s episode of New Girl set to air on Fox directly after Super Bowl XLVIII. Kershaw jumped at the opportunity to appear on one of his and wife Ellen’s favorite TV shows.

The Kershaws were on set from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to shoot the scene. We can only assume Clayton, Ellen and Zooey Deschanel are now best friends.

Kershaw is of course a noted actor, but without further ado, we present Clayton Kershaw’s sitcom debut:

Clayton Kershaw is suave.