By Jon Weisman
Andre Ethier, who found a groove at the plate during Spring Training, appears to have avoided serious injury after being hit by a Carlos Rodon pitch in the second inning of the Dodgers’ 2-1 loss to the White Sox today.
X-rays on Ethier’s right elbow were negative, and he is day to day, as Ken Gurnick writes at MLB.com.
Coincidentally, a player who is fighting for an outfield roster spot, Chris Heisey, took over for Ethier and hit his second home run of Spring Training in his next at-bat, off Rodon.
Elsewhere in and around today’s action …
- The Dodgers set a Camelback Ranch attendance record by averaging 9,804 fans per game, for total attendance of 147,066. By comparison, in their last non-Australia Spring Training, the Dodgers drew 127,876 fans in 16 games (7,992 per game).
- Los Angeles led the National League in financial pledges to the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) during the organization’s 13th annual Spring Training fundraising tour to raise money for members of the baseball family in need, “including former Major League players, managers, coaches, scouts, umpires, athletic trainers, Major & Minor League front office personnel as well as Minor League players, Negro League players, players from the Women’s Professional Baseball League and widows, spouses and children, ages 23 and under.”
- After getting thrown out in seven of his first 14 stolen-base attempts in 2014 — including three in a four-game stretch from June 12-15 — Yasiel Puig didn’t make another steal attempt for more than two months. He was successful on his final four tries last season, and in his first of Cactus League play this year, he was safe as well, thanks to a fancy slide.
- Puig also made the White Sox’ Conor Gillaspie look silly for trying to go from first to third on a single to right in the fourth inning today, throwing him out with ease.
- Joe Wieland allowed two runs in five innings, facing 22 batters. He allowed six singles and three doubles, striking out one and walking none.
- Jose Abreu went 4 for 4 today, making him 10 for 12 against the Dodgers this month. That’s right: 10 for 12. In Cactus League play, Abreu is 27 for 52 (.519).
- Dodger relievers David Aardsma, Juan Nicasio, Yimi Garcia and Sergio Santos each pitched a shutout inning. Garcia struck out all three batters he faced: Alexei Ramirez, Avisail Garcia and Micah Johnson.
- Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles has a rich bit of family history on Santos.
- How Yasmani Grandal and A.J. Ellis are working together is the subject of Dylan Hernandez’s latest piece for the Times. “Much like how Grandal is attempting to learn from Ellis on how to manage a pitching staff, Ellis is trying to pick up Grandal’s pitch-framing techniques — the subtle art of turning borderline pitches into called strikes,” Hernandez writes.
- Sean Dolinar at Fangraphs posted an interactive graphic comparison of MLB pitching staffs, with the Dodgers second behind the Nationals.
By Cary Osborne
The last 24 hours have seen a slew of moves from the Dodgers. Right-handed reliever Dustin McGowan was told today that he did not make the Major League team, Dodger manager Don Mattingly told reporters, and left-hander Mike Adams was told he will begin the regular season in the minor leagues, according to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick.
McGowan appeared in seven Spring Training games and allowed 12 hits, one walk and six earned runs in 12 innings. The Dodgers have not made an official roster move on McGowan, but he can’t be sent to the minors without clearing waivers.
Adams, who signed with the Dodgers on March 1, has appeared in four spring games and has surrendered four hits, two walks and three earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, while striking out four.
Shoulder issues limited the 36-year-old right-hander to just 50 appearances with Philadelphia the last two seasons, but between 2008 and 2012, he ranked second in baseball among relief pitchers to Mariano Rivera with a 1.98 ERA.
If you’re keeping score at home, that leaves the following relievers in camp: Juan Nicasio, Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher, David Aardsma, J.P. Howell, Joel Peralta, Sergio Santos, Pedro Baez and left-handers J.P. Howell, Adam Liberatore, David Huff and Paco Rodriguez.
Earlier today, the Dodgers acquired utilityman Elliot Johnson on Tuesday from the Texas Rangers for cash considerations. Johnson, 31, has played in parts of five seasons in the big leagues and appeared in seven games with the Cleveland Indians last season. He broke into the Majors with Tampa Bay in 2008 and spent the first 11 season of his professional career with the Rays, so Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is very familiar with him.
Johnson has a career big league line of .215/.269/.316 in his Major League career. He has been primarily a middle infielder, but can play third base and the corner outfield positions.
The Dodgers also signed veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia to a minor-league deal. Garcia, 38, last pitched in the big leagues in 2013 with Atlanta. The two-time All-Star pitched in Taiwan last year where he had a 3.19 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 160 innings.
By Cary Osborne
Beginning with Saturday’s Freeway Series finale and running through the 2015 season, Dodger fans will experience new Major League Baseball security procedures at Dodger Stadium.
These mandatory MLB security procedures will be implemented through a metal detector-enhanced screening process. Fan screening may be conducted by means of hand-held metal detection or walk-through magnetometers. The screening program will be in effect at all Major League ballparks in 2015.
Dodger ownership puts the importance of the fan experience, including fan safety, first and foremost. While Dodger Stadium staff will make every effort to ensure this process doesn’t delay fan entry into the stadium, the Dodgers appreciate everyone’s patience as this new procedure begins. Fans are asked to observe the following protocol:
- Guests are encouraged to arrive early to minimize wait times
- Guests are not required to remove their belts, shoes, jackets, wallets, keys or coins before walking through the metal detector
- All bags will continue to be checked upon entry into Dodger Stadium
- Guests are encouraged to minimize the amount of items they bring into the stadium
- Only bags with dimensions that comply with the MLB standard of 16”x16”x8” will be admitted
- Guests are asked to place large metal objects, such as cell phones and sunglasses cases, on screening tables before walking through the metal detectors
- Guests with strollers, those in wheelchairs, or with medical devices that set off metal detectors will be offered an alternative screening method.
By Jon Weisman
It might have been the top performance of a Dodger starting pitcher this spring. It was certainly a cool illustration of what the Dodgers’ offseason machinations have wrought.
In the Dodgers’ 4-2 victory Monday over Arizona, free-agent signee Brett Anderson whipped through six innings in 74 pitches, taking advantage of the Dodgers’ defensively fortified infield to induce every out via groundball or strikeout (with one caught stealing).
Today, Joe Wieland, another offseason import and a leading candidate to shoulder some of the innings that the injured Hyun-Jin Ryu will miss, makes his first official exhibition start after nine exhibition innings so far. Wieland’s last Cactus League game action was a three-inning, 14-batter outing at the Alamodome 11 days ago, so this afternoon’s Camelback Ranch finale (yes, we’ve arrived at that point) stands as a test of endurance and approach, whatever the stats.
As valuable as Anderson might be, pitchers like Wieland will play a key role as well. The idea of a five-man starting rotation is a myth. The Dodgers averaged 10.7 starting pitchers per season in the nine-year Ned Colletti era (without even counting pitchers who missed an entire season, such as Chad Billingsley in 2014). The Andrew Friedman-Farhan Zaidi era figures to be little different.
The Dodger defense is solid, and there’s offensive depth at every position. If there’s a most likely place for things to go wrong for the Dodgers in 2015, it’s if no pitcher is ready to step in when prime forces like Ryu and Kenley Jansen are hurt. There are going to be games where a starting pitcher blows up or a reliever coughs up a lead, but you just don’t want there to be too many.
Wieland won’t quell those fears in a single exhibition start, good or bad. Today simply offers one of many steps for the entire pitching staff toward its goal of providing an overall level of excellence, same as Anderson’s start on Monday.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’d be nice to see Wieland do well today, even though it won’t mean anything if he doesn’t.
For photos from Sunday, visit LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
If you’re like Vin Scully, and you think it’s going to be weird to see Matt Kemp suit up for the Padres against the Dodgers on Opening Day in his first official career game for another team, you’re right.
Nothing like it has ever happened.
In the history of Dodger Stadium Opening Days, no other former Dodger — let alone one of Kemp’s current magnitude — has made his debut for an opponent before Scully and friends.
There have been a few former Dodgers to play for the opposition at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day, most recently Dave Roberts for the Giants in 2008 and Ismael Valdez for the Padres in 2004, but not very many, and they were always years removed from their last appearance in Dodger blue. (If you want to include road openers, former Dodger knuckleballer Charlie Hough pitched the Marlins’ first MLB game ever, against the Dodgers in 1993.)
Steve Garvey — the biggest name to go directly from Los Angeles to San Diego before Kemp — was at first base for the Padres at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day 1986, but Garvey was already in his fourth season with San Diego.
The highest-profile Dodger ever to play his next game for an opponent on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium was Reggie Smith, who started at first base for the Giants on April 6, 1982 — Los Angeles’ first official game since winning the World Series. Even this couldn’t be considered a big a deal as Kemp. Though revered by this author, Smith was not a career Dodger, and he had already ceased to be an integral part of the team by 1981, collecting seven hits and seven walks the entire year.
To find a Dodger regular who played an Opening Day for an opponent in Los Angeles the very next year, you have to go all the way back to a different venue and the very first Game No. 1 played in Los Angeles: April 12, 1960. (The Dodgers opened on the road for their first two seasons after moving from Brooklyn.) That player was Don Zimmer, who had been pushed to the bench by shortstop Maury Wills midway through the 1959 season.
That’s not to say there wasn’t some shock for local fans: Zimmer was traded to the Cubs on April 8, only four days before the start of the season, which found him at third base for Chicago at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Still, Don Zimmer playing for the Cubs at a Dodger home opener is nothing compared with what it’s going to be like to see Matt Kemp playing right field for the Padres a week from today. Surreal is a word that comes to mind. As Scully put it, the idea of Clayton Kershaw facing Kemp with the game on the line is, for now at least, mind-blowing.
That being said, time marches on, and so eventually will our sensibilities. If we could get used to Garvey in a Padre uniform, anything’s possible. (Well, almost anything.)
For more photos from Saturday, visit LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
Alex Guerrero homered to left in his second at-bat of Saturday’s 5-4 Dodger victory over the Angels, but it was the out he made in the first inning that might be the Dodgers’ most memorable blast of the spring.
Guerrero, who finished 2 for 4, launched one to the 420-foot mark in center field, only for Angels center fielder Mike Trout to rise above the wall to grab it.
What else have we got?
- One of the big points of discussion emerging after Saturday’s game was whether the pitching of J.P. Howell, David Huff, Paco Rodriguez and Adam Liberatore could encourage the Dodgers to carry more lefty relievers than you’d ever have expected. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Bill Plunkett of the Register and Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles lay things out.
- J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News has more specifically on Huff.
- Joe Posnanski tells a baseball integration and acceptance story through the life of former Dodger Bobby Bragan.
By Jon Weisman
James Shields, who today was named the San Diego Padres’ Opening Day starter April 6 against the Dodgers, will be making his first career National League appearance — but the right side of the Dodger infield has a friendly history with him.
Second baseman Howie Kendrick is 14 for 29 with four doubles, a triple, a homer and a walk in his career against Shields, good for a .500 on-base percentage and .793 slugging percentage. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is 8 for 25 with a homer and three walks (.379 OBP, .440 slugging).
For more images from Friday, return to LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
Zack Greinke said he felt fine after his rough outing in the Dodgers’ 8-4 loss to San Francisco on Friday, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, which is all that really matters.
Greinke used up his 76 pitches in 3 2/3 innings. An ill-timed error by Carl Crawford, in which he misjudged a high fly, let the first two of five runs in.
The veteran righty will next pitch in a minor-league game Wednesday, Gurnick tweeted. That would put Greinke on six days’ rest for his scheduled regular-season debut April 7.
Greinke did complete this nifty 3-6-1 double play with a nice stretch at first base.
A few more links:
- Kenley Jansen gets his walking boot off Tuesday, tweets Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. Jansen added that he is aiming for a May 1 return to action.
- The Dodger infield defense looks like it will fulfill its offseason promise, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Times.
- At Beyond the Box Score, Matt Goldman looks at what Justin Turner might sustain from his breakout 2014 season and what might regress.
- Chris Heisey’s Spring Training struggles at the plate are the result of having his mechanics out of whack early on and perhaps trying too hard to compensate, writes J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News.
By Jon Weisman
Anyone who knows me — really knows me — knows that if I could be paid to do nothing but sit on a couch and read and watch TV, I would take that job in a minute.
But having been commissioned to go into work each day, the ache to make an impact is intense, the reward in succeeding considerable, and the perception of falling short distressful.
No more than eight Dodgers can be everyday players in a given season, and in reality, the number is maybe half that. Taking health and competition into account, only Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins and Yasiel Puig can really know that they’ll have every opportunity to max their potential in 2015 — and even then, there will be probably be bumps and setbacks along the way.
For everyone else, there will be days when they want to make a difference, but just can’t.
Catchers are not 150-game-a-season players, and certainly not for the Dodgers, with A.J. Ellis and Yasmani Grandal combining two starter resumes into one position. Heaven love the Uribear, but Juan Uribe doesn’t figure to have the legs to shoulder a full season’s load at third base. Carl Crawford learned to live with being a platoon player in 2014.
Fifty years after Jim Lefebvre made his Major League debut on Opening Day and ended up playing 157 games for the Dodgers, Joc Pederson does have the opportunity to do something similar. Pederson is 22 going on 23, an age where you can be thrilled by your potential, yet unable to possibly appreciate how precious that potential is. In any case, what Pederson’s 2015 will look like remains to be seen.
This brings me to Andre Ethier, who is an almost perfect 10.03 years older than Pederson. As the uncertainty over Ethier’s place in the Dodger lineup continues — perhaps nearing a fast resolution, perhaps not — I can’t help thinking how much it must gnaw at him. If you have a belief in yourself, a belief in what you could be doing or what you should be doing, when you’re not fulfilling that vision (however much you blame your circumstances or yourself), nothing easily eases that angst. You need a shot of perspective to channel your frustration into something that motivates rather than deflates.
The cynics are lining up against you, the wide-eyed are rooting for you, but none of it matters. You march those moments alone.
Baseball is famously said to be the game without a clock (pace-of-play discussions notwithstanding), but deeper down, we know that the clock is very much ingrained in the game. It’s the clock that ticks away a ballplayer’s time in the sun, the fates privately setting when the final buzzer will sound.
Outsiders like us pay polite lip service to the player who accepts a reduced role without complaint, as Ethier did in the second half of 2014, but do we also take it for granted? Stomaching your setbacks is so hard. Though I won’t deny that a Major Leaguer’s salary cushions the blow, it’s not about the money. Money reduces stress, but it doesn’t solve for self-worth.
I’m not suggesting things can go any differently. In a talented universe, there simply isn’t room for everyone to thrive. You have to go for your wins, stare down your losses, constantly regroup. Some sunsets go quickly, but some linger a beautiful long while. You don’t know which sunset is yours until it comes.