By Jon Weisman
Howie Kendrick will go from playing alongside 16-year veteran Jimmy Rollins in 2015 to 27-game veteran Corey Seager in 2016.
But Kendrick isn’t worried about the adjustment period this year, any more than he was when he and Rollins joined the Dodgers last year.
“It’s just gonna be one of those things of just getting a feel for how (Seager) plays,” Kendrick said today in a conference call with reporters. “I played with him a little bit toward the end when I came back after I was hurt, and Seager’s a great guy.”
Kendrick wasn’t surprised, having come across Seager’s older brother Kyle many a time when Kendrick was with the Angels.
“I really like his brother,” Kendrick said. “Kyle’s an awesome guy. … Then once I got around Corey, I was like, ‘Man, it must just run in the family,’ because both of those guys are really awesome people, let alone as players. His demeanor as a player is really calm — you don’t see him get upset too much. He has a confidence about him when he gets out on the field. Out on defense or even in the locker room or in the dugout, that’s going to be huge, because you’ll be able to talk to him.
“We’re gonna make mistakes. Hopefully he’ll ask me questions, and I can give him as much info as I possibly can. I’m always open to helping guys out, and you never know, I might learn something from him, too.”
By Cary Osborne
Almost one year ago at the 2015 Dodgers FanFest, Kiké Hernandez could have walked through the thousands of people at Dodger Stadium, even with a Dodger jersey on, and gone mostly unnoticed.
It was undeniable at 2016 FanFest — by the sounds of cheers and screams — that in a year’s time, Hernandez has become a rock star.
Forgive the writer for saying this, but people were going bananas for Kiké.
Hernandez did the same private Q&A for fans in 2016 that he participated in the year before. This time, there was a significant difference. Last year, fans reacted to his stories with laughter. This year, so familiar with him, they anticipated how he would answer a question with laughter.
It didn’t slip past Hernandez how last year’s FanFest was his introduction to Dodger fans, and this year was his embrace by them.
By Jon Weisman
The Dodgers’ lineup might be defined less by the absence of a traditional leadoff hitter than by the absence of a traditional No. 8 hitter.
Of their eight most likely 2016 position-player starters — and we’ll count newly resigned second baseman Howie Kendrick among them — none has a projected on-base percentage below .311, nor a weighted on-base average below .319.
In 2016, according to Fangraphs, the average No. 8 hitter in the National League had a .302 OBP and .283 wOBA.
By Jon Weisman
If the Dodgers were prepared to move into the 2016 season without Howie Kendrick, it’s also clear how happy they should be that he’s coming back.
The 32-year-old second baseman has signed a two-year contract to reunite with the Dodgers, whom he provided a .336 on-base percentage and 109 weighted runs created last season.
The immediate impression is that Kendrick is the player who solidifies the Dodger infield. His return frees Chase Utley to spend more time supporting Justin Turner at third base and Kiké Hernandez to roam around the field as he did in 2015. Kendrick himself might dabble in the hot corner.
Though Opening Day is nearly nine weeks away, and Spring Training and injuries will certainly shuffle the deck, here’s how the Dodger roster of position players currently shapes up:
- Catchers: A.J. Ellis, Yasmani Grandal
- Infielders: Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Chase Utley
- Infielder-outfielders: Alex Guerrero, Kiké Hernandez, Scott Van Slyke
- Outfielders: Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig
- In the wings: Austin Barnes, Micah Johnson, Trayce Thompson, plus the non-roster invitees
An above-average player for each of the past five years, Kendrick is a nice one to say hello to again.
In June, Clayton Kershaw will celebrate his 10th anniversary in the Dodger organization. In turn, the Dodgers are celebrating Kershaw in the 2016 Yearbook.
Publishing at the start of March — in time for the opening game of Spring Training — and available at both Dodger Stadium and Camelback Ranch, the 2016 Yearbook will feature a special 27-page section reminiscing over the divine decade of Kershaw’s life as a Dodger.
In addition, 2014 Yearbook cover subject Vin Scully will receive a special tribute of his own in the 2016 Yearbook, which takes a trip through memory lane with the legendary, beloved broadcaster.
Of course, the 2016 Yearbook looks ahead as well, offering a big compilation of season previews of every Dodger on the roster, top prospects and new manager Dave Roberts, as well as tidbits about going to Dodger Stadium in the coming year, and much more.
A season’s worth of enjoyment is packed into more than 200 pages, available for only $15.
For those ordering the yearbook online, place your order by February 15 for earliest possible shipping. Special offer: The 2016 Yearbook is free with a year’s subscription to Dodger Insider magazine.
To place an order or for more information, visit dodgers.com/yearbook.
There’s a big change coming in 2016 for the Dodgers’ official magazine.
Starting in April, Dodger Insider magazine will be distributed for free at the autogates at every Dodger Stadium regular-season game.
Previously, Dodger Insider magazine cost $5 per issue, while the Dodger Playbill received free autogate distribution (one per vehicle). We are merging the two publications into one great magazine for everyone.
Each issue of the new Dodger Insider magazine will be at least 80 pages, plus a scorecard, with the news, features, photos and games you have grown accustomed to seeing in the program over past years.
There will be a new issue for every homestand, meaning that there will be at least 160 pages of free content each month during the season, plus a 13th issue at the start of October. All free.
Fans who arrive via alternative transportation will be able to pick up a copy of the new magazine at Fan Services booths in Dodger Stadium.
The bonus for this blog is that, unlike past years when we had to limit what we could share online from the magazine, that wall comes down this year. So everyone online will have access to the best pieces from the magazine.
If you still want to subscribe to the magazine — we do have our out-of-town fans, for example — don’t worry. Subscriptions are available at dodgers.com/magazine, for an annual cost of $39.95. Each issue will be polybagged to protect it during shipping.
Special offer: The 2016 Yearbook ($15 value) is free with a new year’s subscription to Dodger Insider magazine.
Note: Current Dodger Insider magazine subscriptions will be honored, with one issue of the previous monthly magazine counting as two issues of the new twice-a-month magazine. For any questions or concerns about current print subscriptions, email email@example.com or call (877) 258-3062.
For more information, visit dodgers.com/magazine.
By Jon Weisman
News of “Greg Maddux III: This Time, It’s Tutorial” unavoidably brought back memories of his first appearance in a Dodger uniform — one that almost became the most memorable of his 740 career Major League starts.
Ten years ago this August, pitching for the Dodgers three days after they traded Cesar Izturis to the Cubs for him, Maddux took the mound on a humid night in Cincinnati after a 65-minute rain delay.
The 40-year-old then needed only 72 pitches to complete his first six innings, walking three (two of whom were eliminated by double-play grounders, including only the second 3-5-1 double play in the past 50 years) and striking out three.
He had allowed exactly zero hits.
By Jon Weisman
Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. episode of the KCET series “Lost L.A.” will explore the history of the view of Los Angeles from Chavez Ravine before Dodger Stadium was built, and how the Dodgers now plan to help restore the original view.
In this episode, Lost L.A. explores the various ways Southern California’s inhabitants have used the hills around Dodger Stadium. The Elysian Hills once stood where the now-iconic Dodger Stadium hosts legendary baseball. Raised up by tectonic forces andcarved into deep ravines by the ancient precursor of the Los Angeles River, these highlands meant many things to many people long before Sandy Koufax threw Dodger Stadium’s first pitch, and even before the first residents moved into Chavez Ravine. The region’s native Tongva Indians escaped floods there, and later settlers quarried stone in the hills to build what would become an American city.
Viewers will discover a lithographic view of nineteenth-century L.A. as drawn from an Elysian hilltop, the vanished neighborhood of Chavez Ravine, and a massive construction project that reshaped the land into a modern baseball palace. Created by filmmakers Ben Sax, Javier Barboza, and Amy Lee Ketchum.
Dodger senior vice president of planning and development Janet Marie Smith is among those interviewed. The episode will also stream at KCET’s “Lost L.A.” website.
By Jon Weisman
For the third time, Greg Maddux is a Dodger.
The Hall of Famer and two-time Dodger pitcher, as well as 19-year MLB veteran Raul Ibanez, have been hired as special assistants to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and the entire department.
In their roles, Maddux and Ibañez will assist in all aspects of baseball operations, including scouting, player development and working with the club’s players, both at the Major and minor league levels.
For the past four seasons, Maddux has been a special assistant to Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, after having been in a similar role for the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry. He was also pitching coach for Team USA during the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Maddux, who unbelievably turns 50 in April, pitched 114 1/3 of his 5,008 1/3 career innings with the Dodgers, combining 2006 and 2008 stints into a 3.94 ERA. As an Atlanta Brave, he was the last pitcher to win four National League ERA titles (1993-95, 1998) until Clayton Kershaw matched him from 2011-14.
The 43-year-old Ibanez played his final big-league game in September 2014, completing his 2,161-game MLB career with 305 home runs, hitting as many as 34 in 2009 for Philadelphia.
By Jon Weisman
De Jong was acquired with infielder Tim Locastro from Toronto on July 2 in exchange for three international signing slots. Now 22, De Jong had a 3.96 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 50 innings for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga after the trade, making 10 starts in 11 appearances. In his final two games with Single-A Lansing before the trade, De Jong pitched 16 innings, allowing one run and striking out 20.
Dirks was acquired from Atlanta the same day, in a separate deal of an international signing slot. Also 22, Dirks played for four minor-league teams last year, finishing with Double-A Tulsa, and struck out 64 in 50 innings with a 0.90 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.
Rhame, on the other hand, was drafted by the Dodgers in 2013. He spent most of the year with Tulsa, for whom he had a 3.06 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 50 innings, with a 1.06 WHIP.