December 19, 2014

Notes from Spring Training: Day 29

Sorry for the delay, folks.  Here are the official Spring Training notes from the Dodgers for today:

THE TRIBE: The Dodgers are in the midst of a difficult stretch of the Cactus League schedule, when they play five games in three days, and today welcome Amy Summers’ Cleveland Indians to Camelback Ranch. This is the first of three games between the two clubs on the Spring Training slate as the teams will face off in Goodyear on March 29 and in Los Angeles on April 1.

IT’S TIME FOR DODGER BASEBALL: The Dodgers would like to welcome Hall of Famer Vin Scully to Camelback Ranch. Scully will kick off his 61st season broadcasting the Dodgers this afternoon and his call can be seen on KCAL 9 in Los Angeles.

TIGHTENING UP: Yesterday, the Dodgers optioned RHP James McDonald, RHP Jon Link and C Lucas May to minor league camp, trimming their spring roster to 43 players, which includes the injured Cory Wade and the yet to arrive Ronald Belisario.

ON THE MEND: Russell Martin continued his rehab this morning and had a number of at-bats in a simulated game against minor leaguers RHP Tim Sexton and LHP Sean Thompson.

SATURDAY SPLIT: The Dodgers earned a Saturday split, defeating the Rangers 5-4 in the afternoon and falling 5-1 to the Padres in the nightcap. In a classic case of the left hand not talking to the right hand, Xavier Paul, Andre Ethier and James Loney each collected two hits as a split squad of Dodgers heavy with lefties pounded out 11 hits against Ranger pitching, while Ronnie Belliard slugged a solo home run on Saturday night in a lineup of mostly right-handed hitters that managed just two hits. Ramon Ortiz allowed one run and struck out six in 4.0 innings of relief against the Rangers for his second Cactus League win and Vicente Padilla took the loss against the Padres, allowing four runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings to fall to 1-1 in the spring.

PITCHING IN: LHP Eric Stults will make his second start of the Cactus League schedule and first since returning from Taiwan, where he struck out four in 3.0 scoreless innings against a team of Chinese Professional Baseball League All-Stars. Stults will be followed to the mound by RHP Ramon Troncoso and LHP Aaron Miller, who will make his first appearance for the Dodgers this spring after being selected with the club’s first pick (36th overall) in the 2009 draft. RHP Jake Westbrook will get the start for the Indians.

CBR – G(EEZ!): Camelback Ranch, the award-winning (now record-breaking) home of the Dodgers and White Sox, has hosted a Cactus League single-game record crowd on three consecutive days. Last night, the Dodgers and Padres played before 13,506 fans after the facility set records on Friday (Cubs at White Sox, 13,413) and Thursday (Cubs at Dodgers, 13,391).

PENCILS READY: Both the Dodgers and the Indians will have a designated hitter this afternoon even with the game being played in a National League park.  Dodger hitting coach and acting Manager Don Mattingly will add the extra bat with Manager Joe Torre returning to Los Angeles today for his daughter’s performance.

HEADLINERS: Entering play today, Dodger second baseman Blake DeWitt ranks among the NL’s Cactus League leaders in batting average (.375, 8th) and on-base percentage of .459 (sixth). Catcher A.J. Ellis also ranks among the NL Cactus League leaders in on-base percentage with a .448 mark (8th) and outfielder Andre Ethier ranks eighth in the circuit with a .629 slugging percentage. On the mound, Dodger pitchers hold three of the top ten spots in ERA with Ramon Ortiz (1.38, 2nd), Chad Billingsley (1.86, 3rd) and Russ Ortiz (2.00, 9th). Carlos Monasterios would lead the league with a 0.00 ERA in 8.0 innings, but does not have enough innings to qualify for the NL Cactus League leaders. Ramon Ortiz also leads the all NL pitchers with 17 strikeouts in Spring Training.

WORLDWIDE LEADERS: Andre Ethier and RHP Charlie Haeger were both featured on ESPN programs this morning. Ethier appeared with current White Sox and then-Padres pitcher Jake Peavy on Baseball Tonight as the two rehashed a seven-pitch battle from May 1, 2009. Haeger was featured along with minor league pitching coach Charlie Hough in a SportsCenter special on the art of the knuckleball.

LACE UP YOUR SNEAKS:  The starting gun sounded around 7:30 a.m. this morning at Dodger Stadium to kick off the 25th Annual Los Angeles Marathon.  25,000 runners took to the new “Stadium to the Sea” course that winds through Hollywood, Beverly Hills and finishes in Santa Monica. Many of the Dodgers recorded welcome messages for the race and the club also sponsored a team for the LA Marathon 5k to benefit ThinkCure! in memory of Dodger Ticket Operations Manager Desiree Sanchez.

THINK GREEN!: On Monday at 9:30 a.m., Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other elected officials will join Dodger Owner and Chairman Frank McCourt at Dodger Stadium to announce a new Dodger Stadium Express bus service for the 2010 season. The service will run between Union Station and Dodger Stadium on metro state-of-the-art clean burning compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, which will be on display at the announcement.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: Roster spots are still available for the 2010 Dodgers Youth Baseball Camp presented by Kaiser Permanente. The camp, which will take place this summer, gives youngsters a chance to learn the game of baseball from Dodger coaches, players and alumni. For more information and to register now, please visit All proceeds from the camp will benefit the Dodgers Dream Foundation and registration closes on March 29.

Under the Lights at Camelback Ranch

Here are a few photos from tonight’s Dodgers-Padres game at Camelback Ranch, courtesy of Jon SooHoo, Los Angeles Dodgers (click for the high-res versions).

A full recap of our exclusive interview and time with Jon will be up on Monday.  We think you’ll love it!

Photo credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers is Live from Camelback Ranch Tonight

Well, the Dodgers organization has been most hospitable again and granted the team media access to tonight’s spring training game against the San Diego Padres. We’ll be making updates to this post denoted by the time in [brackets] as well as via Twitter at Tune in for our perspective on the evening activities and our thoughts on spring training in general.

We’ve also got a exclusive coming this weekend, so be sure to check back for what’s shaping up to be a great story on a member of the Dodgers organization celebrating a key milestone this year.

Tonight’s starting lineup:
Furcal (ss)
Johnson (RF)
Kemp (CF)
Ramirez (LF)
Blake (3B)
Carroll (2B)
Belliard (1B)
Ellis (C)
Padilla (P)

[6:36pm] – Lucas May, Jon Link, and James McDonald all optioned to minor leagues. After watching McDonald get shelled last night, the announcement seems a bit anticlimactic.

[6:44pm] – Especially interested to see how Repko performs tonight as he will be on his 3rd game in the last 24 hours. Looked very solid last night and put up his first HR of spring training today (solo shot in the 5th inning).

[7:10pm] – nice 4-5-3 double play to take us to middle of first

[7:22] – Chris (from photo well on 3rd base line) – “You see and hear WAY more from the photo wells of a Spring Training game. Just have to watch out for foul balls. ”

[7:36] – someone in the pressbox just shouted “disconcerting!” followed by the official “E-6″ over the PA up here…

[7:38] – (from chris in photo well) After Blake made that amazing play 2 end the 1st, Manny ran in smiling & yelling, “Casey Blake! Casey Blake!” Players were psyched

[7:45pm] – three bloggers in the pressbox tonight as well as a number of spanish language folks. Very diverse crowd and more chatty than I would have exepcted.

[7:51pm] – Padilla’s attempt to throw out Blanks at first would have worked if the throw (or catch) wasn’t off….Blanks slide was about two feet too short to get back to the bag.

[8:17pm] watching the Cabrera clothesline maneuver was positively priceless…and you could see it coming a mile away!

[8:23] – 6-5-3 double play to take us to middle of the 5th…can’t say the starters aren’t giving it their all right now.

[8:30] – Belliard’s HR (1st of spring) brought out the cowbells en masse.

[8:35] – Padilla’s stats just announced over PA in pressbox..5 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs (4 earned), 5 strikeouts, HR. Someone shouts “terrible!” in the box…

[8:46] – Valenzuela highlights during middle of 6th getting a lot of “woo hoo” chants to a tejano song that I don’t know…

[8:54] – Dodgers announce that 13,506 show up for tonight’s game…a new Cactus League record.

[9:00] – a while ago, when they announced that Padilla was available in the clubhouse for media, no one from the pressbox got up to go chat with him…enough said.

[9:17] – starters are beginning to get pulled and it’s middle of the 7th. Nice to see Torre stretching the crew a bit today.

[9:34] – Crowd is getting boisterous…maybe the lack of beer is fueling their comments. Van Slyke just got an earful while at the plate.

[9:41] – Lindblom looked solid tonight…more so than any other Dodger pitcher tonight. Always nice when the starters get showed up a bit in March…

Overall thoughts –

On the press box: it is incredibly tight despite being fairly wide and containing three rows of working space. You are pretty much resigned to having your knees jammed into a metal conduit that runs the power and data lines throughout the place, as there isn’t enough room for you to scoot back and still let people pass by your seat. Also, while the windows open up, they are heavily tinted and overlap one another when they slide open making it really dark for evening games (something the designer probably didn’t think about when he/she was putting it all together. One journalist sitting next to me said. “the more I spend time in here the less I like it.”

On food: the Dodger Dogs are grilled here (as they should be) but they still have to work on their supply chain management here. Thursday they ran out of polish sausages and were temp out of Dodger Dogs in the 4th inning…

On the time of the game – the evening game definitely had a different feel to it. The fans were decidedly more “adult” and it showed in all the jawing and screaming that was going on tonight. Chris actually saw Casey Blake engaging in a bit of the “jibba jabba” with Padres fans as the top of the third inning ended (from his perch in the photo well).

Set Your TiVOs! Dodgers to be Featured on “30 Clubs in 30 Days”

The episode featuring the Dodgers on the MLB Network’s “30 Clubs in 30 Days” program will be airing today (Friday) at 2:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and Midnight.

I think the crew was in town last week to shoot the episode and am looking forward to seeing their perspective.  Enjoy!

Sights at Camelback Ranch

Today’s sold-out Dodgers-Cubs game at Camelback Ranch was pretty darn entertaining!  Chad Billingsley went four-plus innings, Manny went deep, Reed Johnson hit his own two-run blast, Rafael Furcal stole his first base of the spring and Blake DeWitt continued to hit well, going two for three.  Director Rob Reiner (a noted Dodgers fan) was also on hand with his son, as was the great Peter Gammons.

I took in the game from the first base line with a bunch of Cubs fans who seemed to make up about 50 percent of the crowd on hand.  Here are a few pics from yours truly.  Enjoy!

Furcals steals second base.

Billingsley opens the game for the Dodgers.

Matt Kemp congratulates Manny Ramirez after his two-run home run.

Reed Johnson celebrates his two-run blast in the 7th inning.

Peter Gammons chats with Greg Maddox before the game.

Alex and I will be at the Dodgers-Padres game on enemy territory in Peoria tomorrow night, so more to come on Friday!