Howie Kendrick has enjoyed facing Padres’ Opening Day starter Shields

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).

(more…)

In case you missed it: Greinke has one of those nights

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS VS LOS ANGELES DODGERS

For more images from Friday, return to LA Photog Blog.

Dodgers at Angels, 1:10 p.m.
Justin Turner, SS
Alex Guerrero, 3B
Andre Ethier, DH
Yasmani Grandal, C
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Joc Pederson, CF
Chris Heisey, RF
Kiké Hernandez, LF
Darwin Barney, 2B
(David Huff, P)

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.

There is a clock in baseball

Currently. #OpeningDayLA can't come soon enough.

A photo posted by Los Angeles Dodgers (@dodgers) on

Giants at Dodgers, 7:05 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Zack Greinke, P

Note: Brandon League is expected to be out of action for months, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

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.

Remembering ’65: Spring Training optimism

remembering-65-wide-v1-grass

By Jon Weisman

Periodically this year at Dodger Insider, we’ll flash back to 1965 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that World Series title for the Dodgers. You all know how it ended, but do you remember how we got there?

Today, we’ll check in on how things were sounding from Dodgertown in Vero Beach. Opening Day 1965 on April 12 was still about two weeks away, so while the Dodgers were coming off an 80-82, sixth-place finish in 1964, Spring Training’s power of positive thinking was in full swing. This was particularly the case with the pitching staff, as evidenced by two pieces that ran in the Times’ editions on March 28, 1965.

Roseboro head shot

John Roseboro

Dodger catcher John Roseboro, entering his ninth season, told beat writer Frank Finch of the Times that the 1965 pitching staff was the best he’s handled.

“We have an overabundance of left-handers,” Roseboro said, implicitly acknowledging the offseason trade of Frank Howard for Claude Osteen, who joined Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres in the four-man rotation, “but we have more depth now and won’t have to depend on two starters (Don Drysdale and Koufax) like we did most of last year.”

Drysdale threw 321 1/3 innings across 40 starts in 1964. Koufax averaged 7.9 innings per start with a 1.76 ERA, but his 1964 season after a 13-strikeout shutout August 16.

Assessing those top two pitchers in the midst of exhibition play, Roseboro was upbeat even if his glasses weren’t entirely rose-colored.

“Sandy’s just about ready to go nine strong innings. He’s throwing well, but his control is off a bit,” Roseboro said. “The last time I caught Don he looked ready for nine. Then he hit the ‘dead arm’ stage against the A’s. His control is good.”

Times columnist Sid Ziff reported even more positivity about the pitching, with a Dodger spokesman telling him it was “by far” the best it had ever been in Los Angeles. Of bigger concern was addressing 1964’s defensive shortcomings. The spokesman didn’t mince words.

lefebvre_jim

Jim Lefebvre

“Our defense was horrible last year, but John Kennedy and Jim Lefebvre will help to correct that situation,” he said. “If Lefebvre doesn’t stay with the club, shame on us. There was a rumor he might be farmed out for another year of experience.”

Lefebvre made his Major League debut on Opening Day and went on to play 157 games and win the National League Rookie of the Year award. (Coincidentally, 50 years ago today, it was reported Lefebvre had escaped injury after being beaned in the helmet during an exhibition game against Detroit by former Dodger pitcher Larry Sherry.)

“We aren’t set in right field yet,” the spokesman continued, “but no matter who plays there, he’ll be a defensive improvement over Frank Howard. The way it looks now, Wes Parker has the best shot at it. He looks like a real hitter.”

Parker ended up settled at first base, with Ron Fairly taking the bulk of right-field action.

Also of concern was the clubhouse atmosphere and perceived undermining of manager Walter Alston. Leo Durocher, in particular, was famous for challenging Alston’s authority.

“Alston is finally on his own as a manager,” said the spokesman (who Ziff said wanted “to remain unidentified because it wouldn’t do for him to show so much confidence.”) “Now he doesn’t have to defer, subconsciously or otherwise, to any of his coaches. … The Bragans, Dressens and Durochers are all gone. There’ll be no other ‘managers’ in the dugout this season. We think it has taken a load off Alston’s shoulders. He has already assumed more authority.”

The idea that Alston, only one season removed from his third World Series title, was so under the gun shows you that it never really gets easy for a manager. But 1965 would indeed prove rewarding for Smokey.

Jaime Jarrin to receive National Leader Award

Los Angeles Dodgers BroadcastersBy Jon Weisman

Hall of Fame Dodger announcer Jaime Jarrin will receive the National Leader Award from Servite High School at the fifth annual Excellence in Leadership dinner Saturday at the Anaheim Marriott, for his his exemplary broadcasting career and commitment to help disadvantaged Latino youth receive a quality education.

Servite is also establishing the Jaime Jarrin Scholarship for Latino students with leadership potential who need tuition assistance to attend Servite.

Jarrin studied philosophy, letters, journalism and broadcasting at Central University of Ecuador. In 1998, he was honored by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists with their highest award, received La Gran Cruz al Merito en El Grado de Comendador (the highest civilian medal) from his native Ecuador and was named one of the Top 100 Influential Hispanics in the United States by Hispanic Business Magazine. He was the first Latin American to win the Golden Mike Award (1970 and 1971).

Jarrin will be the keynote speaker at Saturday’s dinner, with more than 600 guests are expected to attend. Click here for more information.

In case you missed it: Kershaw sails, Gaudin ails

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.

Andre Ethier shifts into high gear

Dodgers at White Sox, 1:05 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Andre Ethier, CF
Clayton Kershaw, P

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.

Dodger Stadium parking and transportation, 2015

Parking Map

By Jon Weisman

Here are your tips and reminders for coming to Dodger Stadium in 2015

ARRIVING BY CAR

Advanced parking
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.

(more…)

In case you missed it: Power to the people


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.

With four homers today in their 9-5 victory over San Diego, the Dodgers extended their MLB lead in exhibition tater trots with 37, seven more than the Kris Bryant-led Chicago Cubs.

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

Jenny Jenny, who can I turn to?

8
6
7
5
3
0
9

Thanks to Mike Adams for bringing the long-lost 0, and helping me remember how old I am.

— Jon Weisman

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,012 other followers