Tag:Los Angeles Dodgers
Posted on: April 8, 2011 9:15 pm
 

Dodgers have seen Manny's PED suspension before

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers have seen this before, Manny Ramirez in the lineup one day and popped with a long suspension for a failed performance-enhancing drug test the next.

Nevertheless, they were sad, disappointed and stunned -- stunned at Friday's news, and surprised that whatever system of checks and balances Manny uses, that he would put himself in a position to get zapped again.

"That's bad," said shortstop Rafael Furcal, a teammate of Manny's from 2008-2010. "Oh my God.

"I promise you, he does not want to retire. I don't know what happened.

"For me, it's sad."

Ramirez abruptly retired Friday, just five games into Tampa Bay's season, rather than face the penalty for a second drug bust: A 100-game suspension.

Throughout the game, people were adjusting their views of what he accomplished during his 19-year career, which now includes becoming the first (and, so far, only) player to get popped twice for failing PED tests.

"A little bit," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, Ramirez's hitting coach in Los Angeles from the time he landed on July 31, 2008, until the club allowed the White Sox to take him as a waiver claim last Aug. 30. "It's hard not to wonder what's what.

"You just don't know. That's the hardest part."

Part of not knowing the "what's what" with Ramirez, from the Dodgers' perspective, now includes his torrid run two-month run immediately upon joining the club in '08 during which he pretty much carried the Dodgers into the playoffs.

"I think you look at all guys, when it comes out like that," Mattingly said. "You wonder about the last seven or eight years. You wonder about Boston [where Manny played from 2001-2008].

"You wonder about all of it."

Though echoes of Ramirez's Dodgers past continue to reverberate in the organization, it's not like he left behind many close friends. Outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier both said they texted some with Manny during the winter but had not heard from him since spring training started. Furcal said he hasn't been in contact with Ramirez since he left Los Angeles last August.

"I didn't think this would happen again," Ethier said. "I don't think if this hadn't happened, [retirement] would be his decision.

"Unfortunately, circumstances forced him out of the game. I don't know if he felt uncomfortable, or he didn't have the confidence, to be the old Manny."

Or, perhaps, the skills.

"I don't even know what to say," Kemp said. "I haven't talked to him in awhile."

Furcal said the news "caught me by surprise" when a reporter told him what had happened with Ramirez shortly after the shortstop's arrival in the clubhouse Friday afternoon.

"That's bad," Furcal said. "He's still young. He's only 38 years old. He can still play.

"You never know what happens in other people's minds."

The Dodgers still owe Ramirez roughly $20 million in deferred salary through 2013. That is money still owed that will not be affected by his retirement.

 

Posted on: April 2, 2011 1:10 am
 

Newly patient Kemp keys Dodgers hot start

LOS ANGELES -- For the Dodgers, the most important thing to kick off their season was so subtle you might have missed it if you don't know your history.

Matt Kemp was 1 for 1 on Thursday -- with three walks.

Now. That's not exactly as dramatic as Ramon Hernandez's game-ending homer for Cincinnati on Thursday. Or John Mayberry's game-winning single Friday as Philadelphia crushed Houston in its last at-bat.

But for Kemp, coming off of a season in which he batted .249 and his on-base percentage fell 42 points, the plate discipline during those walks was all the action the Dodgers needed to see.

"We know what he's capable of," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We've talked about just be focused, you know? ...

"We know the upside with Matt. Matt knows the upside with Matt."

But in 2010, Kemp's concentration was in and out, like the reception on an AM radio.

Now, there is no guarantee that he can or will repeat his opening-day focus 160 more times.

But in the Dodgers' 4-3 win Friday in their second game of the season, Kemp keyed a three-run rally in the sixth with a beautiful, heads-up base-running play, streaking from first to third on a grounder to third. Of the Dodgers' first four runs this season, Kemp scored three and knocked in the other.

As Los Angeles general manager Ned Colletti often says (along with many others), the Great Wall of China wasn't built in a day. It was built by laying one brick, and then another, and then another. ...

As for Thursday's season-opening 2-1 win, Kemp had never walked three times in any of the previous 626 games in his career.

He did, though, set a franchise record with 170 strikeouts last season ... after previously setting a franchise record of 153 whiffs in 2008.

Kemp scored both runs in Thursday's 2-1 win after reaching base via a walk. Two of his three walks were drawn against ace Tim Lincecum.

"Definitely he was more patient," Lincecum said. "I think he's trying to be more aggressive on the pitches he wants than on the pitches the pitchers want."

Exhibit A came in the sixth inning of Thursday's game when Kemp managed to lay off of a full-count Lincecum slider that broke just outside of the strike zone.

"He threw me some really good pitches," Kemp said. "That 3-2 pitch was a really good slider. I almost bit, but I laid off of it.

"The key for me to be good is to be consistent."

Right now, the sample size is way too small to draw final conclusions. But early evidence in 2011 is that, perhaps as he enters what will be his fourth full season, Kemp, at 26, might have the experience now not only to formulate a plan with each plate appearance, but to stick with it. In his first two games, he's now 3 for 5 with three walks, three runs scored and an RBI.

"You've got to have a plan up there every time," he said. "When I don't get my pitch, don't swing."

As Mattingly said, everybody -- Kemp included -- knows his upside.

"But sometimes that's the curse we talk about," the manager said. "It can be a curse, too: 'If you do all of this, you can do that. And if you do all of that, what else can you do?'

"We expect more and more. But it's day to day. That game's over. Worry about today."

Kemp does that, the Dodgers will have much less to worry about themselves.

Likes: Final Four Saturday. Go Butler! ... Vin Scully in the Dodger Stadium press box. Still. ... Day baseball in April. When you've been starved for baseball all winter, nothing like being able to watch baseball during the day before the night games. Highly entertaining Astros-Phillies game Friday. ... I have a whole bunch of favorite places to run while on the road, and right there among them is the route through the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, along the Rose Bowl and then next to the golf course. A beautiful run, with mountains surrounding, and so peaceful through there. Great run midday Friday before Giants-Dodgers game. ... Bob Seger back on tour and breaking out Shinin' Brightly from the Against the Wind album. One of his most underrated songs from one of his greatest albums.

Dislikes: Aside from the legendary organist Nancy Bea Hefley, most of the in-game production stuff in Dodger Stadium is brutal, and has been for the past three or four years. Pounding music, awful mash-ups of songs, too much noise for the short-attention span crowd and Thursday they brought the fan who acts out the lyrics to Journey's Don't Stop Believin' onto the roof of the Dodgers dugout to do it. Total amateur hour. Entertainment capital of the world, my eye.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Roll down the window, put down the top
"Crank up the Beach Boys, baby
"Don't let the music stop
"We're gonna ride it till we just can't ride it no more
"From the South Bay to the Valley
"From the West Side to the East Side
"Everybody's very happy
"'Cause the sun is shining all the time
"Looks like another perfect day"

-- Randy Newman, I Love LA

Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:07 pm
 

Dodger rotation open after Garland oblique strain

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers now face the unpleasant duty of becoming the latest team in baseball to re-plan its rotation after an MRI exam confirmed that right-hander Jon Garland has a strained left oblique and will be sidelined approximately a month.

Veteran Tim Redding and John Ely become the top two candidates in line for rotatoin temp work until Garland's return. Manager Don Mattingly said trainer Stan Conte told him that Garland likely will be sidelined 30-32 days.

As things line up, the Dodgers do not need a fifth starter until April 12. The Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) and Brewers (Zack Greinke) also have been scrambling after significant pitcher injuries this spring.

Garland has not been on the disabled list in a decade, has not missed a start in nine years and has worked 190 or more innings for nine consecutive seasons. It was this durability that led the Dodgers to Garland after they were seriously short of pitching behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley last season. Vicente Padilla was their opening day starter in 2010, and journeyman knuckleballer Charlie Haeger even made a start during the season's first week.

In Garland, Kershaw, Billingsley, Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda, the Dodgers' rotation already lines up far better now than it did then.

Padilla, expected to be out with a sore elbow until sometime in April, lines up as the long man out of the bullpen in 2011.

Realistically now, by the time he heals and re-builds arm strength, Garland, who was 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA in 200 innings pitched for San Diego last summer, probably won't be able to start for Los Angeles until at least late April.

"I've had it," Mattingly said of an oblique strain. The first seven or eight days, you don't want to turn wrong in bed, or cough. There's not a whole lot you do where you're not using that (oblique)."

Ely, a 24-year-old right-hander who went 4-10 with a 5.49 ERA in 18 starts for Los Angeles last season, is having a very good spring. In six scoreless innings, he's 2-0 with seven strikeouts and no walks. Redding, in camp as a non-roster invitee, has thrown eight scoreless innings. An eight-year veteran, Redding, 33, finished last season pitching in Korea after pitching for the Mets in 2009.

"Both of been good down here," Mattingly said of Ely and Redding. "We've seen John last year when he was really good early, and then he struggled toward the end of the year. Down here, he's been back to how he pitched early.

"Tim is a guy who knows how to pitch. He knows what he's doing. You've got a pretty good idea of what you'll get with him."

 

Posted on: March 5, 2011 4:47 pm
 

Selig "satisfied" with early labor talks

MESA, Ariz. -- Dressed casually in khaki slacks and a button down shirt on a 73-degree day, Commissioner Bud Selig could have passed for any fan at Saturday's Cubs-Padres game at HoHoKam Park.

Of course, not just any fan has the authority to speak directly, and with the inside knowledge, of the game's first labor negotiating session that was held Wednesday in Florida. The game's Basic Agreement expires following the upcoming season.

"We're starting early, and I think that's good," said Selig, who added that a second negotiating session is scheduled for "out here" -- presumably in Arizona -- next week. "Hopefully we're starting very quietly and very peacefully.

"I'm proud that we've had 16 years of labor peace. It's because we can do our work quietly. ... There used to be a lot of public statements and people banging on each other. Negotiations will be tough and we'll have a difference of opinion, but we'll do it in a constructive manner. It's led to two successful labor negotiations and, hopefully, another one.

"Michael [Weiner, players' union chief] has been good. ... I'm satisfied with where we are."

As baseball begins the process that once upon a time led to the public spitting that the NFL currently is experiencing, Selig said the football saga certainly feels familiar.

"It brings back a lot of memories of the '90s," he said. "Those were tough years, really tough years, for a lot of reasons. If I ever get around to writing my book what I would say is, the seven labor stoppages that led to that, you could almost see it coming. There was so much anger and so much hostility.

"But those days are gone. And the other sports now, in some cases, I guess, are feeling what we felt in the '90s. It's painful, I'll tell you that."

Aside from the fact that there will be another negotiating session next week, Selig touched on several different topics without any sensational revelations. Among them:

-- On some recent comments by big-market owners complaining about shelling out too much money for revenue sharing: "So far I've been able to keep this all together in a very constructive way and I don't have any reason to think that's going to change. Every club views it from its own perspective. I understand that."

Selig declined comment on Red Sox owner John Henry's revelation last week that he had been fined $500,000 for comments regarding revenue sharing a few years ago.

-- On recent rumblings regarding the idea of contraction: "It's not something I've talked about. It's not something we've talked about. It hasn't been on the table."

-- On the Mets' mess: "We're in uncharted waters. I speak to Fred [Wilpon, Mets owner] a great deal and we just have to hope something works out."

-- Mets and Dodgers marquee franchises scuffling: "When you're the commissioner, you have all kinds of things that happen, most of them not in your control, and this year we have a couple of situations and next year we'll have a couple of more. You work your way through these things."

-- In the most entertaining exchange, Selig reiterated that he has an "enormous respect and affection" for the Wilpons, who go back 35 years with his family. Asked whether he could make any similar comments about Dodgers ownership, Frank and Jamie McCourt, Selig said, "I'm not going to discuss the LA situation."

-- On Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd being the only player in baseball taking supplements and using a program designed by Victor Conte, the old BALCO man: "We've talked to him. He knows how we feel. It's not a situation that makes me very happy."

Posted on: December 8, 2010 4:53 pm
 

Braves add LH help to pen with Sherrill

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves strengthened their bullpen Wednesday by agreeing to terms with veteran free agent left-hander George Sherrill.

The deal, contingent on Sherrill passing a physical examination that will take place either later Thursday or Friday morning, is a one-year agreement for a base salary of $1.2 million with appearance bonuses that could earn Sherrill as much as $1.4 million.

Sherrill, 33, whittled the list of half-a-dozen or so interested clubs to three and chose Atlanta in the end partly because of the organization itself and partly because, as a Tennessee native, it will allow him to play close to home for the first time in his career after moving from Baltimore to Seattle to Los Angeles.

In 65 appearances for the Dodgers last season, Sherrill went 2-2 with a 6.69 ERA. The former closer for the Orioles has a 3.76 lifetime ERA with 56 saves in 389 career appearances.

Sherrill can begin earning a portion of his $200,000 in incentives with 60 appearances. He'll earn $50,000 at that benchmark, followed by $50,000 each for 65 appearances, 70 and 75.

Posted on: December 6, 2010 4:41 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 4:43 pm
 

Dodgers open to listening on Broxton

The Dodgers, among the most active clubs of the winter, are in a bit of a holding pattern now as they look to sort out their left field situation.

But as they do, and as several rival clubs look to add bullpen help, sources say that the Dodgers are open to inquiries regarding closer Jonathan Broxton.

Not that the Dodgers are actively shopping the man who eventually was removed from the closer's role as their 2010 season swirled down the drain. But they'll listen.

Broxton was 5-6 with 22 saves in 64 appearances last season and, as things went south for him, started "pitching scared", in the words of one scout.

Los Angeles is hopeful that pattern reverses itself in 2011. But the Dodgers also are re-tooling and conceivably could package Broxton in a deal that would bring back a left fielder.

Currently, Jay Gibbons projects as the starter. The Dodgers would be fine with bringing back Scott Podsednik. But he prefers to test the free-agent market and, as he does, the Dodgers prefer to wait it out until the prices become a little more realistic.

Or, until something attractive might present itself on the trade market.

Posted on: November 30, 2010 9:50 pm
 

Shortstops on the move, Rays' Bartlett next?

Shortstops fell quickly from the board Tuesday, which likely will lead to more urgency in Tampa Bay's trade talks surrounding Jason Bartlett over the next few days.

Juan Uribe signed with the Dodgers, Miguel Tejada agreed to terms with the Giants and the Cardinals acquired Ryan Theriot from the Dodgers for reliever Blake Hawksworth.

Meanwhile, even after striking a deal with Tejada, the Giants, according to sources, are one of several clubs engaging the Rays in conversations regarding Bartlett.

With Reid Brignac ready to play shortstop every day for the Rays and Tampa about to be decimated by the free agent market, general manager Andrew Friedman is investigating multiple scenarios. While All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford is expected to leave, the Rays also expect gaping holes in their bullpen.

Already this winter, set-up man Joaquin Benoit has signed with Detroit. Closer Rafael Soriano is expected to leave (for the Angels, perhaps?) and Grant Balfour, Randy Choate and Chad Qualls each declined arbitration on Tuesday.

Consequently, the Rays are said by rivals to be casting a wide net for relief help.

Aside from the Giants, the Orioles and Padres have expressed interest, according to sources. The Cardinals kicked the tires as well before nabbing Theriot for Hawksworth, who would have fit one of the areas the Rays are attempting to re-load.

San Diego could offer closer Heath Bell, who is eligible for free agency after 2011 and is expected to be moved sometime between now and the July trade deadline. Having lost Tejada to the Giants on Tuesday and having declined to offer arbitration to David Eckstein, the Padres are down to Everth Cabrera, Jerry Hairston Jr. and rookie Matt Antonelli as serviceable middle infielders.

Bartlett is eligible for arbitration for the third consecutive season before he can become a free agent after the 2011 season.

 

Posted on: November 30, 2010 9:23 pm
 

Giants agree to terms with Miguel Tejada

Moving quickly to plug the hole in their infield, World Series champion San Francisco agreed to terms with shortstop Miguel Tejada on a one-year, $6.5 million deal Tuesday just hours after postseason hero Juan Uribe officially signed with the Dodgers.

Tejada's deal with the Giants, confirmed to CBSSports.com by a high-ranking baseball official, will not be formalized until after he passes a physical. Because the Padres did not offer Tejada arbitration, they will not receive a compensatory draft pick from the Giants. The deal was first reported by Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.

Part of what made Tejada attractive to the Giants, aside from the fact that he generally misses only a game or two a season, is that he can play both shortstop and third base. With serious questions surrounding Pablo Sandoval's ability to lose weight, the Giants could line up next year with Sandoval at third and Tejada at short ... or with Tejada at third and someone else at shortstop.

That someone else could be Tampa Bay's Jason Bartlett. Trade talks between the Giants and Rays are continuing even after the Giants reached an agreement with Tejada, according to multiple sources. One source described talks between the Giants and Rays as "fluid."

Tejada, 36, started last season at third base in Baltimore, then returned to his old position, shortstop, when the Padres acquired him in a trade just before the July 31 deadline. Overall in 2010, Tejada hit .269 with a .312 on-base percentage and a .381 slugging percentage with 15 homers and 71 RBI.

In 59 stretch-run games with San Diego, he batted .268 with eight homers and 32 RBI.

If Sandoval follows the workout regimen prescribed for him this winter and loses 15-to-20 pounds, he and Tejada likely will make up the left side of the San Francisco infield.

But a trade could change that, as could the presence of Mark DeRosa, who missed almost all of 2010 with a wrist injury. DeRosa can play multiple infield positions, including third base, and outfield. He could spell Sandoval at third.

Either way, Tejada currently is lined up to play short -- unless general manager Brian Sabean acquires a true shortstop over the next several weeks.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com