By Jon Weisman
In his first start since his dental denting last week, Clayton Kershaw gave up one run in the first inning today, then delivered five shutout innings, striking out eight, in the Dodgers’ 9-6 victory over the White Sox.
Jose Abreu went 3 for 3 against Kershaw. The rest of the White Sox were 1 for 19 with a walk.
Yasmani Grandal was behind the plate today for Kershaw. “I’ve been watching his games and have a better feel for what he wants to do in certain counts, when to double-up and just see how he’s feeling out there,” Grandal told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “The more I catch him, the better I’ll get.”
Said Kershaw: “Better today. We were ahead in the counts more. I didn’t shake him off as much. It’s a learning process.”
Kershaw also sacrificed twice (once with two strikes) and had a two-out single.
After throwing 88 pitches today, Kershaw will scale back for his final Cactus League outing, scheduled on five days’ rest against Kansas City on Wednesday, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times, before taking his Opening Day start on four days’ rest April 6.
The power-happy Dodgers delivered three more homers, including booming shots by Yasiel Puig and Kiké Hernandez and Jimmy Rollins’ first of the spring. Rollins also doubled and had four RBI, and threw out the quick Emilio Bonifacio today from the outfield grass.
- Chad Gaudin, who missed the 2014 season because of neck surgery, has had a recurrence of neck discomfort, according to Gurnick. Gaudin will have an MRI, the latest in a series following Brandon League (who will have a follow-up exam Friday from Dr. Neal ElAttrache), Erik Bedard and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
- There was some pregame mischief today with Tommy Lasorda and a golf cart, writes Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles.
- The Dodgers have sold their 3,000,000th ticket on their earliest date ever, the team has announced.
- Don Mattingly, speaking to MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby about the concerns over low offense in baseball: “The commissioner (Rob Manfred) talked about banning shifts,” Mattingly said. “Why don’t we teach guys to hit? Go back to teaching hitters to use the whole field and keep the ball in the strike zone.”
- It’s hard not to like Eric Stephen’s bullpen battle flowchart at True Blue L.A.
- The Dodgers sit fourth in right field and 11th in left field on Fangraph’s positional power rankings.
- If you can’t get enough overviews of the Dodgers’ top prospects, here’s Jim Callis of MLB.com with his latest.
By Cary Osborne
You know what? Andre Ethier has been really good lately and pretty good overall this spring.
Since March 18 (six games), Ethier is 9 for 17 with three doubles and a home run.
There was that stretch between March 12-16 where he was 0 for 11 with four strikeouts and no walks. Take those four games away and Ethier is 13 for 28 and has a slash line of .464/.516/.714/1.230.
He also hasn’t struck out since March 18.
Ethier went 2 for 3 on Wednesday with two doubles.
At the same time, it’s hard not to get excited by the numbers Joc Pederson is putting up this spring. Keeping in mind it being Spring Training and these numbers “don’t count,” Pederson is second in baseball this spring behind one Mike Trout in OPS at 1.220. His four home runs are tied for fifth (Yasiel Puig’s no-doubter on Wednesday put him at four as well).
Though Don Mattingly and the Dodger front office have repeatedly emphasized that they’re more interested in a player’s approach and processes than his stats, for a guy competing for a starting spot on the team, those numbers don’t hurt.
Results are all over the place on if a guy’s big spring leads to a big regular season. Four players who finished in last year’s top 10 during the spring in OPS, finished in the Major League top 10 in the regular season — Andrew McCutchen (third), Mike Trout (fifth), Jose Bautista (sixth) and Michael Brantley (10th).
However, last season’s top two regular-season OPS guys, Victor Martinez and Jose Abreu, ranked 115th and 88th in the spring respectively. Yasiel Puig OPSed at .402 last spring — one of the worst marks in baseball — and rebounded to finish with the 13th best mark in baseball in the regular season at .863.
Pederson is not in today’s lineup against the White Sox as Ethier gets the start in center field.
Here’s what else is going on:
- The National Baseball Hall of Fame has an interview up on its website with Ann Meyers Drysdale giving her remembrances of her husband, the great Don Drysdale. The tie-in here is it’s college basketball championship season and Meyers Drysdale is one of the greatest female collegiate players of all time.
- Clayton Kershaw makes his first start today since being struck by a line drive last Friday. The liner chipped his tooth, but he stayed in the game and finished with four strikeouts, three hits allowed and one earned run in five total innings.
- Relievers Joel Peralta (4.50 ERA/1.00 WHIP in four innings), Pedro Baez (2 .70/0.60 in 6 2/3 innings) and Chris Hatcher (10.13/1.88 in 5 1/3 innings ) are expected to see action behind Kershaw today.
By Jon Weisman
Here are your tips and reminders for coming to Dodger Stadium in 2015
ARRIVING BY CAR
Remember: Purchase your parking in advance
To save money and speed your journey into Dodger Stadium, prepay your parking online. This plan is intended to help accelerate traffic flow into the ballpark. Those with prepaid parking will move through dedicated autogates into Dodger Stadium parking.
- Visit dodgers.com/parking to purchase parking in advance — including on day of game.
- To encourage prepaid parking and the use of prepaid parking lanes, general parking is $10 online — same as last year, and available to all ticketholders — and $20 when purchased at the gate.
- Preferred parking is $35 in advance and $50 at the gate.
- Please have parking permit (printed, or on smartphone), credit card or cash ready when you reach the autogate.
By Jon Weisman
Back on Valentine’s Day, Cary Osborne made the case that the Dodgers should have at least as much power in 2015 than they had in 2014. While the regular season will tell the tale, so far Spring Training has done little to undermine the theory.
Yasiel Puig started things with a monster blast that bounced off the wall in front of the Dodger clubhouse building in the first inning (following, it should be noted, a prime piece of small ball by Jimmy Rollins, who bunted for a base hit).
Joc Pederson, Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke followed with round-trippers.
Andre Ethier and Alex Guerrero, sharing the No. 7 slot in the order and left field, combined to go 3 for 4, including two doubles for Ethier.
Also from today …
- The Dodgers might not have a designated closer while Kenley Jansen is on the disabled list, writes Bill Plunkett of the Register, and while some like David Aardsma argue differently, Jansen himself suggests that the idea of a ninth-inning mindset is overblown:
“That’s how you start to (confuse) yourself,” Jansen said. “If you’re going to start thinking about eighth or ninth or whatever, you’re going to mess yourself up.
“Let me tell you something – guys come in the sixth, seventh inning with guys on base, game on the line. That’s harder than what I have to do, going out there with a clean (ninth) inning. Sometimes they (deserve) the save because I get a clean inning.”
- After today’s seven-pitcher bullpen game, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com takes stock of the relievers. Yimi Garcia, among others, continues to turn heads.
- Stan Conte spoke to Tom Verducci of SI.com about the Dodgers’ new partnership with Kitman Labs to help prevent injuries.
“The idea,” continued Conte, “is that you set these marks and if a player is having an issue with a lack of motion or lack of strength—and we know that because we can measure it two or three times per week—the program will alert you that this guy is declining in this area, and maybe you should take a look at him. We always talk about players who don’t tell you when they’re hurt, or they don’t know the difference between pain and an injury. Well, if we have the right system biometrics can tell us there is a slight decline before he gets injured.”
- Don’t miss out on your Dodgers mini plan …
By Jon Weisman
Brandon League is having an MRI done today after experiencing renewed discomfort in his right shoulder, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, and the likelihood has increased that he will join Kenley Jansen and Hyun-Jin Ryu on the disabled list to start the season.
League retired all three batters he faced in his first 2015 Cactus League outing March 5, but five of the six batters he faced March 9 scored. He appears to have overworked in a bullpen session two days after that, according to Gurnick, who adds that League has not had a shoulder injury since 2007.
The relievers that could take League’s spot on the Dodger roster remain plentiful. In fact, the Dodgers are scheduled to use several of them today in what will be a bullpen game, started by Juan Nicasio, with J.P. Howell, Yimi Garcia, Dustin McGowan, Joel Peralta and Paco Rodriguez scheduled to follow.
Pedro Baez, Chris Hatcher, Adam Liberatore, David Aardsma, Mike Adams, Chad Gaudin, David Huff and Sergio Santos are also in the relief mix, without even addressing players who have been optioned, like Daniel Coulombe. Another bullpen game is scheduled for the Dodgers on their final Saturday in Arizona, against the Angels.
By Jon Weisman
This is stuff you should know already, but it’s easy to forget when you’re deep in Spring Training.
The Opening Day roster is the roster for, like, a day. Maybe a few days.
Let’s take a look at what happened last year. We’ll even bypass the Australia trip, which had its own special roster rules, and begin with the Dodgers’ Stateside opener in San Diego on March 30, the day that Clayton Kershaw was officially placed on the disabled list.
Placed Brian Wilson on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 31 (right elbow ulnar nerve inflammation).
Recalled Jose Dominguez from Albuquerque.
Activated Matt Kemp from the 15-day disabled list.
Optioned Mike Baxter to Albuquerque.
Placed A.J. Ellis on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 6 (left knee surgery).
Recalled Tim Federowicz from Albuquerque.
Activated Josh Beckett from the 15-day disabled list.
Optioned Jose Dominguez to Albuquerque.
Activated Brian Wilson from the 15-day disabled list.
Optioned Paco Rodriguez to Albuquerque.
Optioned Chone Figgins to Albuquerque.
Recalled Jose Dominguez from Albuquerque.
Optioned Jose Dominguez to Albuquerque.
Recalled Carlos Triunfel from Albuquerque.
Optioned Carlos Triunfel to Albuquerque.
Recalled Paco Rodriguez from Albuquerque.
Optioned Tim Federowicz to Albuquerque.
Selected the contract of Miguel Olivo from Albuquerque.
With Kershaw, that’s turnover involving 12 players, or 48 percent of the 25 in “25-man roster.”
Catcher, infield, outfield, starting pitcher and relief pitcher all are featured in transactions. Two of the transactions involve players who weren’t even on the 40-man roster after the season began.
And of course, there’s always that player who is caught in a revolving door. Jose Dominguez was recalled twice and optioned twice in a 25-day span.
In all, only nine players from the 2014 Opening Day roster didn’t go to the disabled list, the minors or another team at some point: Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Jamey Wright, Drew Butera, Adrian Gonzalez, Dee Gordon, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke.
Even more zany was the previous April, which included Aaron Harang making the Opening Day roster, then being traded before appearing in a game. (Harang is now with the Phillies, his seventh team in the past 24 months). The 2014 Dodgers added or subtracted 14 different players by April 30, and had employed 35 players on the 25-man roster by the end of the month.
Overall, 73 players have worn a Dodger uniform during a regular-season game since April 2013.
During Spring Training, when the games come down to players wearing jersey numbers suited for defensive linemen, there isn’t much more to talk about at night than who will make the initial cut and who won’t. But once things get set, get ready for change.
By Jon Weisman
The Dodgers have partnered with Kitman Labs, a sports technology company with a focus on athlete management and injury prevention. The Ireland-based Kitman will supply the Dodgers with a full suite of products.
Dodger vice president of medical services Stan Conte said the team has been working with Kitman for more than a year “to help modify Kitman Labs’ sports prevention program to make it applicable to professional baseball players.” Kitman is making its first foray into U.S. professional sports, after achieving success in soccer and rugby overseas.
“Kitman Labs has been successful in using player biometric measurements with other workload metrics to identify, in real time, soccer and rugby players who may be at risk for injuries,” Conte said in a press release. “They believe they will be able to do the same for professional baseball players. We’ve agreed to test Kitman Labs’ system at the minor-league level this year to determine its effectiveness as it applies to baseball players. Depending on the results, our objective is to implement the program at the Major League level in the future.”
Said Kitman co-founder and CEO Iarfhlaith Kelly: “It is hugely encouraging to see such a progressive organization like the Dodgers embrace our technology and research driven approach to help improve their data collection, data analysis, and their decision making in how they work with their athletes.”
Here’s more on Kitman, from the release:
At Kitman Labs, we have developed the world’s most advanced athlete management system. We utilize statistical analysis, scientific research, and industry experience to help highlight, manage, and reduce the risk of athletic injury. We take a unique, data driven approach to preventative medicine in sports and performance analytics.
Our team of experienced sports scientists understands the individual nature of each sporting discipline, and the uniqueness of each club, team and athlete. It is with this in mind that our system has been designed to mold to every need, every variant in each user. Developed to perform in the data driven world of elite sport, we harness available data to find the true source and cause of injury and to intervene before injuries ever occur.
And here’s more from Stephania Bell’s story at ESPN.com:
“We’re extremely intrigued by the concept and the potential of this system and now it’s off the drawing board and into application,” Conte said. “We’re interested to see: Will it alert us to problems before they occur?”
Stephen Smith, the co-founder of Kitman Labs, was an athletic trainer in Ireland, working with professional rugby teams. His 19-person company recently opened a California office.
Initially, his company developed hardware that was too bulky to transport. One modification Kitman developed while working with the Dodgers was the use of a portable high-definition camera to capture movement patterns. The camera connects with a computer and the results are generated in real time.
By Jon Weisman
Hyun-Jin Ryu’s MRI on Monday revealed no change from a 2012 MRI, the Dodgers announced today. Ryu is scheduled to rest and rehab for two weeks before being re-evaluated to determine his next steps.
In other news …
- I hadn’t heard of the Teres Major muscle until 12 months ago when it was discovered injured in the body of Clayton Kershaw, but it turns out everyone’s got one. Erik Bedard is the latest to suffer a strain of said muscle, and is reported to be out for four to six weeks, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
- “I have the same injury as [Clayton] Kershaw, and I want the same rehab as Kershaw. And the same fastball.” — Bedard, via Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.
- Brandon McCarthy threw five scoreless innings Monday in his minor-league game, covered by Gurnick.
- Monday’s Cactus League game, featuring three hit batters and four ejections (all on Arizona’s side), was certainly a perplexing one, with everyone weighing the Dodger-Diamondback rivalry against the reminder that, you know this is Spring Training right? MLB.com’s Gilbert and Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. run it down for us.
- Daniel Coulombe became the latest Dodger to be optioned to the minors. He faced 21 batters and retired 18 this spring with three strikeouts, allowing a single and walking two.
- Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles has a lengthy feature today talking to pitchers McCarthy, Juan Nicasio and David Huff, all of whom have been hit in the head by line drives.
- Jimmy Rollins talked candidly with Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal about subjects including his transition to Dodger blue.
- The Fangraphs positional rankings continue today, with the Dodgers sixth at first base and also at second base.
- Joc Pederson’s swing is analyzed by Chad Moriyama at Dodgers Digest, with the conclusion being that he is now keeping the barrel of the bat in the strike zone longer, which should lead to better contact.
- I tweeted this out Monday, so it’s a day late on here, but I still like it …
By Jon Weisman
We’re down to the final fortnight before Opening Day. Starting to feel it?
Here’s a big set of links from this morning and the weekend …
- Alex Guerrero is not only making a case for a reserve role in 2015 but a starting role in 2016, as Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles points out.
- Guerrero’s roster spot could come at the immediate expense of Kike Hernandez (though, if the Dodgers keep an extra position player, perhaps not). Ken Gurnick writes at MLB.com about Hernandez, who has homered in three straight games.
- Hernandez, who starts again today, has been a busy guy. He leads the Dodgers in Cactus League play in defensive innings with 74, and should tie or pass Joc Pederson — who has a scheduled off day today — for the lead in plate appearances. Pederson has 42 plate appearances, Hernandez 40.
- Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson are each pitching in minor-league games for their next turns in the Dodger rotation — McCarthy today (in part because the Dodgers are facing opening-week opponent Arizona), Anderson on Tuesday (an off day for the big-league club).
- Don Mattingly told reporters the Dodgers will have a bullpen game Wednesday, with Clayton Kershaw pitching again Thursday, working on five days’ rest after his last tooth-rattling start.
- Chris Hatcher, who got rocked a bit Sunday, retiring one of five batters, gets a chance for redemption with his first back-to-back appearance of Spring Training today, pitching behind McCarthy in the minor-league game. Joel Peralta, who turns 39 today, is also doing making his first consecutive-days gambit.
- The Dodgers have the ninth-best collection of MLB talent at catcher, writes Mike Petriello of Fangraphs, which kicked off its annual position rankings today.
- Don Newcombe is at Camelback Ranch this week and will throw out the first pitch before Friday’s sold-out game against the Giants.
- Aaron Miller, the Dodgers’ 2009 first-round draft pick who attempted to convert from pitching to the outfield, has retired at 27, reports Gurnick. We included Miller, who had an .826 OPS for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga last year, in our May 2014 Dodger Insider magazine story about Dodger minor-leaguers making position switches.
- In case you need a refresher, Dustin Nosler of Dodgers Digest charts where the major national prospect rankings placed the Dodgers’ up-and-comers.
- A lengthy roster of the talent at Dodger minor-league camp was posted by Eric Stephen at True Blue L.A.
- Bookmark this one: Official MLB historian John Thorn has a timeline of baseball integration dating back to 1820 at Our Game, starting with the slave Henry Rosecranse Columbus Jr. playing baseball in Kingston, New York.
- A keen analysis of how well pitchers do (or don’t) recover from Tommy John surgery is provided by Jon Roegele at the Hardball Times. “The most recent data suggest that one out of two major league pitchers who has Tommy John surgery will throw fewer than 100 innings the rest of his big league career,” Roegele concludes.
- Fangraphs has tweaked the way it calculates Wins Above Replacement, taking into account such factors as ability to avoid double plays and advancement on wild pitches and passed balls.
- Let’s get promotional. Promotional …