Vin Scully Opening Day First Pitch Mound up for bid

img-197821-mMagic img-197822-mBy Erin Edwards

This is your last weekend to bid on some one-of-a-kind items. The First Pitch Mound used by Vin Scully on Opening Day comes signed by Scully, Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela and the 2014 Los Angeles Dodger roster.

Also on bid from the home opener, NBA Hall of Famer and Dodger owner Magic Johnson’s autographed jersey, and a 2014 Jackie Robinson Day No. 42 jersey autographed by the team.

Bid now at dodgers.com/auctions. Net proceeds benefit Dodgers RBI, a youth baseball program for boys and girls ages 5-18. A program of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Dodgers RBI offers 2,400 youth the opportunity to play ball.

The LADF also has three more silent auctions at Dodger Stadium this homestand: Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Here is just a sampling of the items up for bid on the Club Level behind the Vin Scully Press Box:

Tonight (auction ends at 8:45 p.m.)

  • Adrian Gonzalez autographed baseball
  • Clayton Kershaw autographed jersey
  • Carl Crawford autographed photo

Friday (auction ends at 8:45 p.m.)

  • Orel Hershiser autographed 1988 World Series baseball
  • Clayton Kershaw autographed jersey
  • Yasiel Puig autographed photo

Sunday (auction ends at 2:45 p.m.)

  • Don Sutton autographed baseball
  • Matt Kemp autographed jersey
  • Clayton Kershaw autographed photo

The story of Zack Greinke’s dominance

Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

On April 11, 2013, Zack Greinke took a Carlos Quentin body blow that broke his collarbone.

Greinke came back to work May 15 with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball, but three starts later, his ERA was up to 4.80, and as late as July 3, it was 4.30.

Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles DodgersOn Independence Day, Greinke apparently declared his freedom from the tyranny of Major League hitters.

Greinke has set a modern record by making 17 consecutive starts of at least five innings with fewer than three runs allowed. Not only that, if it weren’t for a two-out, sixth-inning, Jay Bruce home run on July 25, Greinke’s streak would be up to 21 starts – essentially, two-thirds of a current Major League season.

And though five innings has been set as the baseline for the streak, Greinke has actually thrown at least six innings in all but three of those games: September 22, April 1 and April 12. He left the September 22 game after five shutout innings on 72 pitches for some pre-postseason rest, and April 1 represented his first start of 2014 after a shortened Spring Training.

So don’t let the five-inning minimum fool you. Since the fireworks went off last July 4, Greinke thrown 138 innings of a 1.76 ERA, averaging 6 2/3 innings per start with 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings against 8.5 baserunners, and five strikeouts for every walk.

Yep, this is some streak.

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Dodgers let it go: The Cole never bothered me anyway

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Here he stands, in the light of day (well, night).

By Jon Weisman

Cole Hamels could have been trouble for a Dodger team feeling a bit frozen at the plate. But Zack Greinke brought the heat against the Phillies.

Greinke struck out 11 batters in seven innings, giving him 40 in 29 2/3 innings this season and a whopping 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings, in the Dodgers’ 5-2 victory over Philadelphia.

Last year’s Silver Slugger winner also contributed a walk and a double, the latter leading to the third run the Dodgers needed to end their two-game losing streak.

But Greinke didn’t have to go it alone. Dodger outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp also got in on the act. Puig drove home the Dodgers’ second and third runs with a two-out single in the fifth and a two-out triple in the eighth. Kemp had two doubles to raise his slugging percentage to .473.

Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez shushed the skeptics about his health with a sixth-inning double and an eighth-inning home run, and Drew Butera added his second two-hit game of 2014. Twelve hits in all for the boys in white and blue.

April 23 pregame: Kershaw set for Friday rehab start

Phillies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Yasiel Puig, RF
Andre Ethier, LF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Matt Kemp, CF
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Justin Turner, 2B
Drew Butera, C
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

While the Dodgers are hosting the Colorado Rockies on Friday, a sold-out crowd for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes will see Clayton Kershaw in his first rehab start since going on the disabled list nearly a month ago.
This Brian Wilson bobblebeard has a beard that bobbles. Photo: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
The sellout at Rancho Cucamonga stems in part from the fact that it was already Brian Wilson Bobblebeard Night there. My colleague Cary Osborne had the picture sent over — and yes, the beard bobbles.

Ken Gurnick has more on Kershaw at MLB.com. The lefty is expected to make about 55 pitches, and then will have at least another rehab start after that.

* * *

Adrian Gonzalez will miss his first inning of 2014 when he starts tonight’s game on the bench. Don Mattingly saw the opportunity to give Gonzalez a rest against Phillies lefty Cole Hamels.

Dodger minor league report: Week 3 – The Runnin’ Loons

Loons outfielder Malcolm Holland has 19 stolen bases in 16 games.

Loons outfielder Malcolm Holland has 19 stolen bases in 16 games. (Great Lakes Loons)

By Cary Osborne

The Great Lakes Loons are on pace to steal 388 bases this season, and two highly touted Cubans had significant weeks. And Joc is being Joc. That’s how we start this week’s minor league report. So let’s get into it: (more…)

Vin Scully’s ode to Wrigley Field

On the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field, here’s a look at what Vin Scully had to say about the ballpark at 75:

Vin also said this about Wrigley:

“To me there’s always been something special about Wrigley Field. I refer to the ballpark as the dowager queen of the National League. I refer to the lights as a lady in black in evening, wearing pearls. Every time I come to this ballpark, I seem to feel and see another image, and, above all, the enthusiasm of the crowd. It’s just a very special place.” -Vin Scully

Wrigley Field also gave us this moment:

 

Tomorrow is the 52nd anniversary of Sandy Koufax’s 18 strikeout complete game six-hit gem at Wrigley Field.

 

This photo was taken at Wrigley Field:
kershawkoufax (1)

Also, we can’t forget this James Loney Grand Slam:

Greed is good for Gordon

Philadelphia Phillies v Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

When are we allowed to start believing in Dee Gordon? When do we get to tell midnight to shove off and that we’re keeping the royal carriage? (more…)

Living and dying in the dream state

field

By Jon Weisman

More times than I can count since the Dodgers hired me nearly six months ago, I’ve been told I have a dream job, and I’m in no position to dispute that.

But landing employment in your own personal Neverland doesn’t diminish the stakes of your work. If anything, it heightens them, because if you can’t do the job at the place you love, there must be something wrong with you, right? You live from one “What have you done for me lately?” to the next.

Everyone on the Dodger roster has a job they dreamed of as children, a job they have spent their lives working toward. When I walk into the Dodger clubhouse, I never fail to be struck by the sense of accomplishment of everyone in it. On Monday, Jose Dominguez walked in, the latest to serve as the last man on the squad, but no less someone who is where he aimed to be. And you have to pay homage to that.

Then the “games” start. Games … dream job … play ball … but what have you done for me lately?

The grounded people find a base camp in the effort they make, in their inner John Wooden. (“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”) That can comfort you through an 0-for-4, or run-scoring single you didn’t want to allow or the error you can’t believe happened.

But let’s be real here. You don’t make all that effort to come up short. You make it to win. You are constantly aiming to conquer expectations, driven from within or without.

When you dream — more to the point, when you fantasize — do you dream of effort? Or do you dream of results?

On a night like tonight, when the Dodgers lose on an unearned run in the 10th inning, you’re reminded again that dreams still bring their share of heartbreak.

April 22 pregame: Short bench, long bullpen

Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers

This is not a new backup infielder for the Dodgers. Hyun-Jin Ryu Bobblehead Night is May 27.

Phillies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Dee Gordon, 2B
Tim Federowicz, C
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P

By Jon Weisman

Since Chone Figgins was sent to Albuquerque, I’ve spent a little time thinking about this four-man bench the Dodgers are using. Normally, a 13-man pitching staff strikes me as excessive, but it’s hard to deny that right now, the 25th spot on the roster is better spent on an arm than … well, an arm and all the other body parts that position players use.

The five existing outfielders have the grass portion of Dodger Stadium covered. Juan Uribe, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez aren’t coming out for a pinch-hitter anytime soon, and Dee Gordon and Justin Turner have locked up second base. If anyone needs a rest or is knocked out by injury mid-game, Scott Van Slyke can play first, and Turner the rest.

The Dodgers are thin in the pinch-hitting department, but it’s also not something they’ve done much of. In 20 games, the Dodgers have used 29 pinch-hitters — less than two per game. That’s not to say that with a deeper bench there wouldn’t have been more, but it wouldn’t have been much more. Last year, the Dodgers gave 209 plate appearances to pinch-hitters.

Figgins, believe it or not, is the only Dodger pinch-hitter to reach base more than twice this season, and 20 games into 2014, the Dodgers still don’t have a pinch-homer, pinch-triple or pinch-double. (They do have a pinch-sacrifice fly, from Justin Turner.)

By comparison, the 2014 Dodgers have gone to the bullpen 79 times, practically four times a game, for a total of 74 1/3 innings. And even the guys who have struggled some this year have an impact by taking away innings that would otherwise stress out the others. In most cases, a pinch-hitter is there for a minute and then gone.

Where the Dodgers could benefit is where every MLB team could benefit. It would be nice if their backup catcher weren’t held hostage and chained to the bench by the potential of an emergency. For most games, the backup catcher doesn’t exist as an option, meaning that realistically, the Dodgers’ four-man bench is actually three. But until the pitching changes decrease, less is probably more when it comes to the bench.

* * *

This is from a couple weeks back, but still worth a look. “Dr. James Andrews explains why Tommy John surgery is on the rise,” via Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk.

His answer: it’s not an anomaly, it’s a trend. And an alarming one, he says, in that so many more of the surgeries he’s performing are for high school pitchers as opposed to professionals with a few years under their belt. Kids are bigger and stronger these days, and their ability to throw harder is outpacing the development of their ulnar collateral ligaments.

But the biggest risk factor he and his researchers are seeing: year-round baseball. The fact that not only do pitchers throw year-round, but that they are pitching in competition year-round, and don’t have time to recover. Also: young players are playing in more than one league, where pitch count and innings rules aren’t coordinated. Another factor: the radar gun. Young pitchers who throw over 85 or so are at risk, and all of them who are on a major league track are throwing that fast or faster, and are going up in effort when scouts with guns are around.

Clayton Kershaw pitching to Don Mattingly

From today’s bullpen session.

– Jon Weisman

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