April 19, 2014

Checking in on the Departed 2011 Dodgers: From Barajas, Blake and Brox to Carroll, Kuo and Kuroda

On the eve of Spring Training for the Dodgers. I thought it would be fun to check in on some of the 2011 Dodger players that departed Chavez Ravine for (hopefully) greener pastures in 2012.  As you will see, some of our old friends are embarking on new chapters, some are being reunited with old friends, while others are struggling to secure roster spots and keep their major league careers going:

Tom Singer from MLB.com takes a look at the new Pirates’ battery of A.J. Burnett and Rod Barajas, and why Barajas is thrilled to be reunited with his 2008 Toronto teammate.

Patrick Saunders and Troy Renck from the Denver Post touch on Casey Blake’s challenge in holding down third base for the Rockies.

The Associated Press looks at Jonathan Broxton’s new beginning in Kansas City as the set-up man to closer Joakim Soria, and why the Royals were the former closer’s first choice.

Jamey Carroll talks with Tyler Mason from FS North about being the Twins new starting shortstop at 38 years old.

Matthew Leach from MLB.com examines Rafael Furcal’s battle to show his power and ability to consistantly get on base for the Cardinals at 35 years old.

Paul Hoynes from The Plain Dealer states that Jon Garland’s physical with the Cleveland Indians didn’t happen today as planned, which is significant as the pitcher’s minor league contract is contingent on him passing the examination.

Larry Larue at the News Tribune examines the complexities of new Mariner reliever Hong-Chih Kuo.

Bryan Hoch talks with Russell Martin and Hiroki Kuroda about Kuroda’s transition to the Yankees, and how it compares to Kuroda’s arrival in Los Angeles from Japan.

Alex Speier from WEEI Sports Radio reports on Vicente Padilla’s legal challenges as he attempts to get to Spring Training on time to compete for a roster spo with the Red Sox.

 

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/ Los Angeles Dodgers 2011 

Joe Torre’s Pre-Game Comments

Here are a selection of Joe Torre’s pre-game comments to the media.  These are out a bit late as I lent my recorder to T.J. Simers so that he could make sure he had his quotes from his banter with Torre correct.

On Rafael Furcal:

“Evidently last night when he made an awkward catch…he felt something in his back.  So he’s getting an MRI.  Hopefully the fact that it just happened and he felt it on that play, hopefully that indicates it’s something that’s not related [to previous back injuries], but we’re not going to know that until we get the results back.”

On Jeff Weaver’s left knee bothering him:

“I don’t necessarily need guys to tell me about all their aches and pains, but I think when it comes time to start to affect your performance, then you want to know.  A guy like Weav, who’s been around a little bit, sort of knows his body and thinks he can do things in spite of stuff.”

On Ramon Troncoso’s rehab in Albuquerque:

It’s ok. Ok. Inconsistent.  We’ll see. He gives us a guy who can throw a couple innings.  Maybe back here he can find that thing that he had earlier this year and last year too.”

On yesterday’s base running blunder in light of the team’s recent performance:

“It’s terrible.  It’s certainly something we always pay a lot of attention to in the Spring when we’re talking about base running drills.  A lot of it, on base running, a lot of it’s just common sense.  In Matt’s case, did he have to run full bore to get home? No, because he wasn’t going to throw him out.  But in light of James trying to go to third, which he shouldn’t do with two out, unless it’s just standing up, you just can’t take anything for granted.  In James’ case, once he made the commitment, and I talked to him a couple times during the game last night, he said ‘I made up my mind too soon.’  I said, that being the case, once you round the bag, you’ve got to see where the guy in front of you is.  You’re the one now, that can make sure he scores.  Even if you’re going to get tagged out, you’ve got to make sure it’s not until after he crossed the plate.  But he never looked.”

On Carlos Monasterios and the bullpen:

“He is the long guy.  Troncoso, I think he’ll probably take on a little more of a longer role.  With the addition of Dotel, I think we have some options for guys to get out of innings.”

On Manny Ramirez:

“Stan [Conte] went to Arizona to watch him work today, and Stan thinks it will be at least another week or so…before we make any plans for him to do some game stuff.  We had expected to see him this week, figuring he’s start to play in rehab, but that’s not the case.”

On what the team needs to do to turn things around:

“We just need to win a game to start building.  We know what we want to have happen.  We want what’s happened since the All-Star break to disappear, but that’s not going to happen.  We’re going to have to start stopping the negative by turning it into a positive, but you can only do that by winning a game and just building on that.  I just want us to play a clean game, be aggressive and pitch the way we’ve been pitching most of the time.  But we need to win a game.”

“It’s immaterial how far out we are, because it’s a matter of our winning games…we need to win.  Until we do that, I really don’t pay attention to the standings.”

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The media session concluded with the aforementioned banter between Torre and The Los Angeles Times’  T.J. Simers.  I’ll leave this for T.J.’s column, but needless to say, Torre knows Simers approach and had fun with him (for the most part).

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!

Welcome Back Andruw and Nomar!

I’ve got that “Welcome Back Kotter” song stuck in my head today as I prepare to celebrate our nation’s birthday with an afternoon of hot dogs and beer.

Yes, Nomar and Andruw are back, but is this good news for the Dodgers? The reality is, the Dodgers desperately need Jones’ bat if they want to advance in the playoffs. Word is that Jones has slimmed down a bit, worked on his swing and wants to help the team win now. Ned must have agreed, as the team brought him back on the road in San Francisco, rather than saving him for the upcoming homestand. That’s the kind of veteran enthusiasm the Dodgers need (and probably what Ned needs if he wants to save his job).

As for Nomar, how bad can he be at shortstop? Sure, it’s been four years since he last played the position, but Angel Berroa was batting .194 and Luis Maza was hitting a blistering .225. Jesus, maybe Ned can bring us some relief before the trade deadline…and I’m not talking about some over-priced veteran that’s due to breakdown for the remainder of the season.

Of course, with the good comes the bad: Rafael Furcal is predictably transferred to the 60-day DL where he is to undergoe surgery on his bad back. Realistically Furcal is done for the season, which is a huge disappointment for the club after getting such a strong start out of their oft-injured shortstop.

New Plan: Nomar to Play Shortstop with Raffy Out

As it turns out, the trade for Angel Berroa did indeed signal lingering problems for Rafael Furcal. According to the LA Times, Raffy’s back is going to keep him out an additional three weeks! Sigh. The new plan is to move Nomar back to shortstop once he completes his rehab assignment in the next week or so. Hey, the guy was a five-time All-Star at the position, but that was three looooong years ago for the aging infielder. At the very least, I appreciate Ned and Joe’s creativity and the support for Blake DeWitt.