October 31, 2014

Highlights of the Final Homestand

It’s hard to believe the final homestand of the season is here, and while it’s depressing that the Dodgers are completely out of the race, there are several entertaining sub-plots for these last three games against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

On Friday night, Torre will hand the managerial reins over to Brad Ausmus, perhaps in a nod to a future career. Ausmus also gets to choose his coaching staff from the players on the team, so that should be entertaining.  As Ken Gurnick’s article indicates, Ausmus has the demeanor and intelect to be a ptentially great manager.  I’m actually really looking forward to tonight’s game.

In addition, if you follow the Dodgers official Twitter feed, @DodgertownUSA, you can win autographed baseballs throughout the final homestand (also known as Fan Appreciation Weekend).  There will also be fireworks on the field following the game.

On Saturday night, the Dodgers will honor Rubby De La Rosa and Gerry Sands as their 2010 Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year.  I’ll have more on these guys in a subsequent post.

Torre has also said that catcher Russell Martin will likely manage this game, and that he’s excited about the opportunity.  This is also a bit of a change for Torre, as he usually picks older veterans for the honor, but I think it says something about how fond Joe is of Russ.

Finally, on Sunday, it’s the last game for the retiring Joe Torre and Brad Ausmus, so it’s a great opportunity to say goodbye.  The club has a special pre-game celebration of Ausmus’ career planned, which spans an incredible 1,938 games, placing him seventh on the all-time list.

Sunday is also Fan Appreciation Day.  If you haven’t been before, it’s really a lot of fun.  Per the Dodgers’ press release, there will be more than 15,000 giveaways for fans:

Prizes include a 2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2011 Dodgers season tickets, a 40-inch Sharp TV, an MSI computer, Jet Blue flight vouchers, a 55-inch Vizio TV, tickets to the NASCAR Nationwide Series courtesy of Auto Club Speedway, 200 Universal Studios passes, a one-night stay at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino’s hotel that comes with two tickets to a Sublime concert and dinner for two at the Pines Restaurant and more. A full list of Fan Appreciation Day prizes is below.  

See you at Chavez Ravine!

Russell Martin Done for the Season?

After watching the play at the plate during the second inning of Tuesday night’s game when Russell Martin injured himself, I wasn’t that concerned.  It just didn’t look that bad.  And in talking to Russell after the game, he also didn’t seem that concerned about the play or the injury.

“[The play] looked like it was going to be bang, bang,” said Martin. “I was indecisive on whether to hit him…I don’t want to hit the catcher when he doesn’t have the ball in his hand.  It was so bang, bang that it caught me in-between.”

Martin went on to talk about how his hip was feeling after the game.  “I still have some mobility, but obviously I don’t have all of it.  We’ll get the MRI tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.  I know I can play with this, it’s just whether or not, if I play with it, is it going to get worse?  Those are the types of things that I’m worried about.”

Unfortunately, the MRI results showed a torn labrum in his hip, and Martin is off to the disabled list.  But the long-term impact could be even more devastating for the Dodgers this season.

Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts spoke with injury expert Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus who noted that Martin is likely done for the season and could need surgery with a three to four-month recovery time.  That would leave the Dodgers with the offensively underwhelming catching duo of Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis.  It also makes Ned Colletti’s decision on what to do with Martin in 2011 that much more difficult.

In other news, Randy Rosetta of The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge, LA notes that first round draft pick Zach Lee remains unsigned by the Dodgers and is currently on campus as a member of the LSU football team, where he is projected to be a future quarterback.  From the article:

“‘I think his want to be a college student and to play both championship football and baseball is still (at the) forefront there,’ [LSU head football coach Les] Miles said after he dramatically leaned over and knocked on the nearest wood he could find.”

Now the Dodgers have yet to make an official offer, but they have until August 16th to sign Lee.  The newspaper notes that Lee could theoretically sign with the Dodgers and still play football, but definitely not baseball.  I just don’t see Ned going down that route, given how expensive it’s going to be for the Dodgers to sign the kid.  And given the radio silence from all parties on contract negotiations, I don’t have much faith this deal is going to get done by the deadline (cue the conspiracy theorists who claim the Dodgers only drafted Lee because they knew he was unsignable…something GM Ned Colletti adamantly denies).

Now we wait…

Photo Credit: JonSooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

Dodgers’ Post-Game Comments from Torre, Lilly and Martin

Here are the post-game comments from Joe Torre, Russell Martin and Ted Lilly on tonight’s win over the San Diego Padres:

From Joe Torre:

On Lilly’s performance:

“Lilly made it look easy.  This kid is really calm.  He’s got a lot of passion inside, but he’s very calm.  Certainly when you go to a new club, it’s nice to be able to pay dividends right away.  Oswalt struggled somewhat in his first outing… I think Haren struggled a little bit.  It was nice to see him give us that game.  And we needed every bit of it.  He gave up two hits, the home run and the base hit in the first inning.  He made it look easy.  Russell was like sitting in a rocking chair.”

On taking Lilly out after the 7th inning, despite retiring 20 batters in a row:

“If I don’t have Kuo to go to, we may have to rethink it.  Kuo has been pretty much lights out.”

On Broxton:

“Brox, we need to get him back, because he certainly is too important for us to not have him.  This is going to be good for his confidence.  He went after the middle of the lineup and it was a good outing for him.”

On the possibility of using Kuo in the ninth inning:

“No, you can’t do that. Half the battle in this game is showing confidence in somebody.  I’d rather pay the price then not do that.”

On Martin:

“He’s going to have an MRI and we’ll hold our breath and see what we have.  He just felt a little click in the right hip.  It didn’t happen, I don’t think, in the contact at the plate.  It happened when he went by into the grass.  Maybe he stopped himself or stepped wrong or whatever it was.”

On winning the game:

“We beat one of the better pitchers, and we have to come out here tomorrow and hopefully we can build on this.”

On intentionally walking Gonzalez in the ninth inning:

“I was torn there, because Brox is like 1 for 11 with 5 strikeouts against him.  But the thing that bothered me more than anything is with a man on second base, we’re sort of compromising our defense, because we’re going to keep him close and we’ll keep the big hole on that left side.  He burned us a couple times in San Diego with groundball base hits to left.  So when I saw him take that swing on the second pitch, I said that was enough for me and just tried to play the percentages there.”

From Russell Martin:

On tweaking his right hip:

“I still have some mobility, but obviously I don’t have all of it.  We’ll get the MRI tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.  I know I can play with this, it’s just whether or not, if I play with it, is it going to get worse?  Those are the types of things that I’m worried about.”

On choosing not to slide on the play:

“[The play] looked like it was going to be bang, bang.  I was indecisive on whether to hit him…I don’t want to hit the catcher when he doesn’t have the ball in his hand.  It was so bang, bang that it caught me in-between.”

From Ted Lilly:

On his first game with the Dodgers:

“Coming up through the minor leagues, this was the goal, every day: to get a chance to pitch for the Dodgers.  This is a special night for me, no question about it.”

On coming out of the game after retiring 20 batters in a row:

“I felt good.  I’m not going to question Joe.  He’s been pretty successful and with the bullpen that we have, the bottom line is, do whatever it takes to win the game.  It’s not so much trying to concern yourself with what your individual numbers are.  It was nice to win the game tonight.”

Post-Game Comments from Torre, Martin, Broxton, Kuroda (June 8)

Joe Torre:

On the game as a whole:

“It was a classic.  That’s post-season baseball right there.  Great pitching on both sides.  Carpenter did an amazing job at getting out of jams.  They made plays.  Kuroda, that’s as good as you want to see him right there.  It was a great game.  If they had beaten us, I’d still have to say it was a great game, just the way things played out.”

On Kuroda:

“It looks like he was very aggressive.  It looked like he was pretty much doing what he wanted to.  It looked like the ball was really alive, movement wise, and he was locating it.  I think that he had as good of command as he’s had since early in the season.”

On Ethier:

“It is just a matter of timing for me.  You saw him hit that ball the other way with two strikes from the left-hander, you know he is back and comfortable.”

On Manny:

“It looked like he tried to pull.  He was hitting the ball on the ground.  Stayed inside the ball that last time and hit the ball hard to right field.”

Hiroki Kuroda (through his interpreter):

On his pitching overall:

“Most of my key pitches were moving. The sinker, slider and also splitter…were all good today.”

On facing Chris Carpenter:

“Before the game I didn’t really have the time to think about the other pitcher.  I just was worried about how I was going to pitch today and how to get outs on other hitters.”

Russell Martin:

On Kuroda:

“His command was great today.  Good velocity on his fastball and good movement on it too.  His two-seamer was working well for him.  He really had all his pitches tonight: his two-seamer, his slider working well, his splitty as well and also using his cutter.

From the first inning, he was throwing 95 and getting that good sink.  Just with that pitch alone, he can get away with just having that pitch.  Today’s the day where he had everything. So you know when you have all those weapons that you can use, that there’s a lot of different things you can use to get the hitters off balance.

On hearing that the surgery for the little girl who fractured her skull during batting practice on Monday was going to be ok:

“Earlier today, I heard the news, and definitely felt a bit better. It definitely was on my mind yesterday, the whole day, and it was good to hear the good news.”

On playing 0-0 games:

“It means that you’re doing things well, playing good defense and pitching well.  The hitting part, you’ve got an ace on the other side.  You get a win against him, you’re happy, no matter how you get it.”

On Chris Carpenter:

“He had his good stuff today.  Good curveball, command.  Not really leaving anything over the middle of the plate.  Every time you’re up there, it’s a battle against him.”

On Manny’s big hit:

“I don’t know how he hit that ball – it seems like he got jammed a little bit.  That’s a good sign when he’s able to stay inside the ball like that and drive it the other way.  That’s when he’s at his best, so it’s good to see that.”

On Broxton’s 11 pitch battle with Pujols:

“When you get in those situations, the great hitters just get even better.  And you could tell right there, he was fighting off some really good pitches.  Good thing we had one of the best closers in the game out there.  That’s what Pujols does, he’ll just wear you out until you make a mistake and then capitalize on that, but fortunately Broxton just came through, kept making good pitches.”

Jonathan Broxton:

On the ninth inning:

The heart of the order coming up.  I just had to go out there and make pitches…I did.”

On his battle with Pujols:

“I was just out there trying to go pitch for pitch…trying to see what he’s doing with the ball.  He kept fouling off some good pitches.  I finally just had to bury one.”

“It felt like it was a long time.  I had to keep going with good pitches and good location.  I couldn’t make a mistake.”

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

Martin and Blake Power Dodgers to 4-3 Victory over Nationals

Russell Martin continued his solid performance at the plate against the Nationals today and made it count in the 13th when he managed to deliver an RBI single with two outs on the board to lead the Dodgers past the Nationals 4-3 on Saturday.

Casey Blake did his part as well, delivering two home runs during the course of the game (the 9th time he’s accomplished this in his career) and throwing out what would have been the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 13th.

The Dodgers road record improved to a lowly 4-7 with the win and continued their streak of not losing three games in a row yet this season. Unfortunately, they have managed to lose two games in a row on three separate occasions (and only squeaked out a win today by the thinnest of margins).

Photo credit: Jon SooHoo, Los Angeles Dodgers, 2010.

Russell Martin

Casey Blake HR