The first starting lineup of 2015

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By Jon Weisman

We’re just a day away from actual, “this time it doesn’t count” baseball. Here’s the starting lineup the Dodgers will put out against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch at 12:05 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday:

Jimmy Rollins, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andre Ethier, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, DH
Chris Heisey, RF
(Erik Bedard, P)

Don Mattingly has said that he doesn’t intend to start any regulars three days in a row, and there is a pair of split-squad games Friday. So expect a number of these guys to rest in Thursday’s rematch with the White Sox. (The Dodgers will be the home team Wednesday and the road team Thursday.)

Mattingly indicated to reporters today that Rollins would be the Dodgers’ principal leadoff hitter, in part because of his switch-hitting and speed, in part because they don’t have a perfect fit for the top of the order. Mattingly reiterated that he welcomed the thoughts of Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi on lineup construction.

 

Hideo Nomo remembers first day in Dodger uniform, 20 years ago

By Jon Weisman

Today is the 20th anniversary of Hideo Nomo’s first day in a Dodger uniform: March 3, at Dodgertown in Vero Beach.

Four months later, Nomo was throwing two scoreless innings in the National League All-Star Game (video above). In a press release from the good folks at Historic Dodgertown, Nomo shared his memories of how his Dodger life began, after signing as a free agent with the Dodgers on February 13, 1995.
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In case you missed it: Rainy day … and a Monday

By Jon Weisman

Rain kept the Dodgers from spreading their wings across the great grounds of Camelback Ranch this morning, but as the Dodgers’ public relations department notes, it wasn’t a lost day:

With spring showers pouring down in Camelback Ranch – Glendale, the Dodgers held their fifth full-squad workout of 2015, working in the batting cages while the coaching staff held a baserunning meeting and also talked about the new pace of game rules with position players. Clayton Kershaw, Brandon League, Chris Hatcher, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Joel Peralta, Joe Wieland, Ben Rowen, Ryan Buchter and Daniel Coulombe tossed regular bullpens.

For Ryu and Peralta, this was another step forward after being a step behind last week, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com notes.

Kershaw was also christened as the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter for the 2015 regular season, putting him on track to become the second pitcher since the team moved to Los Angeles to start five consecutive Opening Days for the Dodgers. Don Sutton pitched every Opening Day from 1972-78, tying him with Don Drysdale  (1958-61, 1963, 1965, 1969) for the most Opening Day starts in Los Angeles with seven. Fernando Valenzuela had six.

As for the start of Cactus League play, Erik Bedard and Kershaw were already named starters for the first two games, Wednesday and Thursday. The scheduled relievers for Wednesday are Carlos Frias, Juan Nicasio, Sergio Santos, Adam Liberatore and Josh Ravin. For Thursday, Kershaw is to be followed by Joe Weiland, Brandon League, Chris Hatcher, Daniel Coulombe and Ryan Buchter.

Just a couple of bullet points to wrap things up:

  • Jimmy Rollins and Yasiel Puig had a two-hour “Get to Know Me” conversation, reports J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News. “You can’t make that happen,” Rollins said, “You can’t force it, to talk to somebody for two hours. It was a good thing and I was happy I did it.”
  • Newest of the newly newly signed Mike Adams gave a status report to Bill Plunkett of the Register. An excerpt:

    Adams said his shoulder “as of right now it’s good.” He said he worked with his younger brother, Jason (a personal trainer in south Texas), this winter on some changes in his mechanics to put less stress on his shoulder. But he acknowledges he “wasn’t sure if a team was going to take a gamble on me” and see if those changes will work.

Sergio Santos strives to keep his hometown uniform

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

GLENDALE, Ariz. — My kids will never grow up to be Major Leaguers like Sergio Santos, but it turns out their formative years going to Dodger games were very much the same.

“I would go, but only under the condition that my parents had to get me a Dodger Dog and some nachos — otherwise I wouldn’t want to go to the game,” Santos said Sunday.

I know the feeling.

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In case you missed it: Ping Pong Party

Bracket

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers’ annual Spring Training Ping Pong Tourney is underway. Whom do you pick?

And now, to wrap up the weekend …

  • Alex Guerrero, who to this Neanderthal observer looked smooth taking balls at third base today, will be one of the most difficult roster decisions the Dodgers face in March. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com spoke to Guerrero and Don Mattingly about the situation.
  • The versatile Kike Hernandez was poised to try to play all nine defensive positions in a single game for Triple-A Oklahoma City (in the Astros organization), only to be thwarted by success, writes J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News. Hernandez also spoke to Sanchez about how his winter Caribbean Series experienced primed him for Spring Training.
  • Carl Crawford has operated out of the center of attention this spring, but Dylan Hernandez of the Times catches up with him in this feature.
  • It’s a hard start to the year for Chicago and baseball, which lost Ernie Banks in February and now today, Minnie Minoso.

Who? Who? Julio

Ben Platt/MLB.com

Ben Platt/MLB.com

 

By Jon Weisman

There was no jaw-dropping curveball or Vin Scully christening. There was no TV — there wasn’t even a game.

There was only a back field at Camelback Ranch with heightened interest and expectations, and the young man of 18 years, six months, two weeks and three days who calmly faced them all.

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Time comes to a blessed halt at Spring Training

Running

By Jon Weisman

GLENDALE, Ariz. — This is the year that Spring Training seduced me.

I had enjoyed my two previous trips, in 1993 and 2014, enjoyed the juxtaposition of Major League ballplayers with minor-league atmosphere. How could you not appreciate the uniqueness of the scene, how could you not see the romance?

And yet, I don’t know that I ever found it as simply lovely as I did this week at Camelback.

TreeKeep in mind, I’m not like the pros in this organization. My trip was all of five days, not six weeks. I’m here and gone, with only a snapshot of the grind that preseason life becomes. I also managed to avoid the scorching heat that can break the spirit of any man. The Fahrenheits never passed 80, and the weather brought monotony-defying combinations of sun, wind, clouds and harmless rain.

For my short visit, the peace and beauty of the scene, the feeling of serenity threading through the earnest labor on the ballfields surrounding me, left me wanting more.

Odd, isn’t it, that I can sympathize with the ongoing concerns about MLB’s pace of play … then look down at my phone out on a distant field, see that three hours have passed and wonder where they went.

Or maybe it’s that this year, I’ve felt a new desire to slow down time. In recent years, I’ve strained to get from Point A to Point B on the calendar, trying to get tasks behind me so that I don’t have to fret them. Then, during the past few months, I became newly aware of how my kids seem to be racing away from their youth.

It was something shy of a New Year’s resolution, but I began the year by making a conscious effort not to be so focused on the future at the expense of the present. Two months in, it has paid off.

I know we’re all eager to get to the regular season, when the games count. But to take a walk in the park, through ballfields stripped to baseball’s essence, to feel the rays and the breeze and the dust of Arizona, to go out 0-0 and come back 0-0, neither a winner nor a loser, just a part of a timeless scene, is painlessly cathartic.

My dad turns 80 in May. I think I need to spend a day or two like this with him.

Mike Adams is latest reliever to come to camp

By Jon Weisman

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ten-year MLB veteran righty Mike Adams, who had a 2.89 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings for the Phillies last year, has joined the Dodgers on a minor-league deal with an invite to big-league camp.

In his career, Adams has a 2.41 ERA with 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings — from 2009-11, his ERA was 1.42 in 177 1/3 innings with 192 whiffs. He was sidelined from early June until September last year with a shoulder injury.

Adams will wear No. 0, positioning him to become the second active Major Leaguer to wear that number for the Dodgers, after Al Oliver in 1985. (Brian Wilson wore No. 00.)

The 6-foot-5 righty will compete for a spot on the Dodger bullpen with such other righties as Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, David Aardsma, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Santos.

Sunday Science Day

Los Angeles Dodgers workout

By Jon Weisman

Hope you’re having a nice, lazy Sunday morning. Here are a few stories you can settle into, from baseball’s metaphorical laboratory …

  • Something striking from this Matthew Leach article at MLB.com (via MLB Trade Rumors) about research into reducing Tommy John operations: “Youth pitchers who said that they had ‘often pitched’ when fatigued were a staggering 36 times more likely to have needed surgery.”
  • This paper by Joe Rosales and Scott Spratt of Baseball Info Solutions takes pitch-framing analysis a step farther by attempting to break down the influence of not only the catcher, but also the pitcher, batter and umpire (via Baseball Think Factory).
  • “No one would have predicted he would find himself blindfolded and bouncing on a trampoline in a doctor’s office in Las Vegas.” How’s that for an intriguing setup for Chelsea Janes’ story in the Washington Post about the effect of inner-ear dysfunction, using Nationals second baseman Dan Uggla as a focal point (also via BTF).
  • This might not seem like science per se, unless you allow for the science of human behavior. Brandon McCarthy is among those quoted in this Anthony Castrovince story at Sports on Earth about potential changes to the strike zone, particularly with regard to the low strike.

    “We’re all just an ant colony,” McCarthy said. “You put something in front of us, we’ll all just figure out a way to go around it and something else will emerge in its place. But it would be interesting to see how long that adjustment would take.”

Dodgers Photo Day

Hyun-Jin Ryu steps in for a photo with team photographer Juan Ocampo.

Hyun-Jin Ryu steps in for a photo with team photographer Juan Ocampo.

By Matthew Mesa

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dodger players filed into makeshift photo studios around the Dodger facilities at Camelback Ranch this morning for the club’s annual Photo Day.

Players made stops with team photographer Juan Ocampo, SNLA, MLB Photos, MLB.com, MLB International, ESPN the Magazine, Topps, USA Today, Getty Images, Baseball Digest and the Associated Press. Take a look …

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