Theme of All-Access event: The 2016 Dodgers have fight in abundance
By Cary Osborne
There were revelations on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium at the Dodgers All-Access event — a benefit for the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Council. Joc Pederson said he and roommates Trayce Thompson, Alex Wood and Corey Seager watch the shows “New Girl” and “The Bachelor.” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman revealed that Clayton Kershaw will pitch a rehab game this weekend in Rancho Cucamonga. And Chase Utley revealed his sense of humor when asked by Orel Hershiser about growing up a Dodger fan and how special it would be to bring a World Series championship to Los Angeles.
“Winning a championship in L.A. would be super special,” Utley began. “Being a Dodger fan growing up, 5 or 6 years old, watching Eric Karros …”
Fans who paid to be part of this experience cracked up with Karros sitting in the front row laughing himself. Karros is only 11 years older than Utley.
The event featured exciting experiences for all fans — from hitting in the Dodgers’ underground batting cage off Mickey Hatcher and Reggie Smith, to taking a photo with Tommy Lasorda and the 1981 and 1988 World Series trophies to pitching in the Dodger Stadium bullpen with legendary Dodger scout Mike Brito taking radar-gun readings. But the main event was Dodgers Chase Utley, Pederson and Justin Turner and the Dodger management trio of Dave Roberts, Friedman and Farhan Zaidi answering questions on stage from SportsNet LA’s John Hartung and Hershiser while fans dined in the infield.
A lot of the talk centered on all the adversity this team has had to go through to land in first place in the National League West. Utley and Zaidi had thoughts on the topic.
“I think it starts with the type of players we have on this team — guys who grind out at-bats, guys that put the work in to continue to improve,” Utley said. “Obviously we have a coaching staff to point us in the right direction, keeping it positive and laid back at the same time. It’s a big part of it. You go down the line everybody’s been a big contributing factor. We’ve had a ton of injuries. We could have easily cashed it in a long time ago. But guys on this team fight.”
Said Zaidi: “It’s very clear that L.A. is a land of stars. But at the same time baseball’s a blue-collar game. And part of the culture Dave has been able to establish is we have great star players — Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, a bunch of our guys have had tremendous seasons. But kind of melding that L.A. star environment with the 25 guys who grind it out every night, and I think that’s really been able to keep us competitive.”
Zaidi said the Dodgers didn’t make any moves on Wednesday — the waiver trade deadline — because he and Friedman were happy with the group that’s already in place. Wednesday was the last day to add a player from out of the organization to become eligible for the postseason.
Speaking of happy with the group, Friedman said Roberts was the Manager of the Year.
And Roberts returned some praise to Friedman and Zaidi, specifically saying they are more than just numbers people.
“I think that’s the biggest misconception with Andrew and Farhan and our front office,” Roberts said. “They’re about people. And we all love information and baseball’s a statistic-based game. But most of our conversations are about the players and what the intangibles we really can’t quantify. When you look at our players they’re grinders. They fight. They compete.”
Going back to revelations, there was one more. A lot of the talk was also about Seager. Turner credited the 22-year-old with making a big impact on him.
“When I was struggling the first two months of the year, I decided to go up and hit like Corey,” Turner said. “It worked. I hit a homer. So that was the turnaround of my season. So he’s inspiring all of us.”