From the greatest to the youngest, this year’s FanFest inside Dodger Stadium was a wonderful time.
– Jon Weisman
By Cary Osborne
Yasiel Puig stole the show at Dodgers FanFest on Saturday.
Puig was the last Dodger to take the stage at FanFest, and in the span of 20 minutes, he started it by answering questions from SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo on stage and ended it by answering fans’ questions on the field. In between, he accepted a fan’s challenge to bowl against him, danced with another fan on stage, played catch with a young fan from the stage, jumped down to hug the fan, took selfies with fans, hugged others and signed autographs. If there were a baby around, he probably would have kissed it.
Add Mike Bolsinger to the group of new Dodger pitchers who knew Clayton Kershaw when.
Like Brett Anderson, Bolsinger’s knowledge of Kershaw dates back to their high school playing days.
Bolsinger, a righthander who turned 27 on Thursday and is seven weeks older than Kershaw, played on the McKinney High School team that topped Kershaw’s Highland Park High team for the 2006 state title in Texas.
Bolsinger recalled during a chat at FanFest today that under the tournament rules, there was a coin toss to determine whether the championship showdown would be a single game or a three-game series. McKinney won the coin toss, and wisely chose to go for the longer series rather than do-or-die against Kershaw, who went undefeated in his senior season.
“He pitched the first game and won,” Bolsinger said, “and we won the next two.”
Yasiel Puig was filled with insouciant musings during today’s conclusion of the Dodgers’ Pitching in the Community caravan, and Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com captured it in an entertaining piece. Here’s an excerpt:
… Puig looked strong, but had no idea how much he weighs with 27 days left until the first full-squad workout.
Perhaps somewhere between 255 and 260.
“Whatever weight I come in, it doesn’t matter,” Puig said, citing teammate Juan Uribe as an example by calling him a “gordito,” exaggerating his weight and saying, “He saves us every game at third base.”
Puig also glowed about Astros 5-foot-6 second baseman Jose Altuve, his teammate for an exhibition tournament throughout Japan in November and someone he credited with inspiring him to intensify his workout regimen this offseason.
“I don’t like working out,” Puig said. “It’s like you have to pay me to enter the gym.”
But Puig did, because he wants to steal more bases and he wants to limit the highs and lows of a six-month regular season. …
So what else is going on?
- The 45th annual convention of the Society of American Baseball Research is June 24-28 in Chicago, and if you go, you can catch the Dodgers playing at Wrigley Field June 24-25.
- Carl Erskine talked about Roy Campanella’s great work behind the plate with Rob Neyer at Fox Sports’ Just a Bit Outside.
- This headline should get you started: “On World War II vet’s last day, Dodger Tommy Lasorda was his angel,” by Dennis McCarthy for the Daily News.
- In MLB.com’s overall list of the top 100 prospects in baseball, Corey Seager was seventh, Julio Urias eighth and Joc Pederson 13th. Grant Holmes is 95th. Here’s more from Teddy Cahill of MLB.com.
- Pederson has gone gluten-free, and not by choice, writes J.P. Hoornstra at the Daily News.
- Keith Law’s take on the Dodger farm system can be found at ESPN Insider. After the same first four as MLB.com, the next six are Alex Verdugo, Zach Lee, Darnell Sweeney, Chris Anderson, Jose De Leon and Zach Bird.
- David Schoenfield of ESPN.com’s Sweet Spot looked back at Baseball America’s top prospects of 2005. Raise a glass for Joel Guzman.
- From official MLB historian John Thorn at Our Game: “Baseball, as with any other course of life, has had its share of death, degradation, and disappointment. For utter horror, however, the story of Marty Bergen, star catcher of the Boston Beaneaters, is unmatched in the annals of the sport.”
- Some last caravan tidbits …
It was revealed this morning online and makes its full public debut Saturday at FanFest. It’s the Dodgers’ 2015 slogan, “We Love LA.”
“Since 1958, the fans of Southern California have had a love affair with the Dodgers, our broadcasters and Dodger Stadium, and the feeling has been mutual,” said Dodger executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen. “What better way to express our admiration to our fans for their overwhelming support than with this year’s slogan.”
— Jon Weisman
For the first time, Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin and his son Jorge will form the broadcast team for the Dodgers’ Spanish radio broadcasts on KTNQ 1020 AM.
Pepe Yniguez and Fernando Valenzuela will be the Spanish broadcast team for SportsNet LA on television, with Manny Mota contributing on both radio and TV.
On the English-language side, the broadcast teams pick up where they left off, starting with Vin Scully on SportsNet LA for Dodger home games and select road games. Scully will simulcast the first three innings on KLAC 570 AM, with Charley Steiner and Rick Monday taking over on radio in the fourth inning.
For the other games, Steiner, Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra will work TV, with Monday joined by Kevin Kennedy on radio.
This is season No. 66 for Scully with the Dodgers and No. 57 for Jaime Jarrin. Monday is working his 23rd season behind the Dodger mic; Yniguez his 17th, Valenzuela his 13th and Steiner his 11th. Mota is in his sixth season as a Dodger broadcaster and 47th overall with the franchise.
Howie Kendrick and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Victor Brazfield
By Cary Osborne
“I actually died,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Victor Brazfield. “I was done. We got hit with an IED. It blew up. I was an air-guard gunner. The concussion, all the pressure, knocked me out. I had no breathing. I had no pulse. Twenty seconds later I came back.”
Those were the types of stories Dodgers heard on Friday at Los Angeles City Hall when they accompanied a group of Wounded Warriors to a lunch on the 27th floor of the L.A. landmark.
The Dodgers were recognized by the Los Angeles City Council for their community service, and as part of the organization’s 12th annual Pitching in the Community caravan (presented by Bank of America), the Dodgers honored combat-injured service members of the Wounded Warriors Project with gifts and ate lunch with them.
Honoring the military particularly hit home with new Dodger second baseman Howie Kendrick. Kendrick’s mother and father both served in the U.S. Army, and he has uncles and cousins who served in other branches of the military.
“They’re the reason I’m doing what I’m doing right now,” Kendrick said. “Without these guys, where would our freedom be? Our military means everything to our country. I can’t say enough about what those guys have done for us as a country and me as an individual. It’s truly a blessing to be here today and talk about the freedoms we do have.”
Kendrick told a Wounded Warrior that had baseball not worked out for him, he would have likely joined the military.
By Jon Weisman
Joe Wieland has already made it back. More than two years after July 2012 Tommy John surgery, the 6-foot-3 righthander pitched in four games for the San Diego Padres this past September, including an 84-pitch start September 24 that gave him his first big-league win.
The kinks, literally and figuratively, have been worked out, and having come to Los Angeles alongside Yasmani Grandal in the de facto three-way trade with the Padres and Philadelphia, Wieland is completely ready to take on 2015 as one of the new members of the Dodger pitching staff.