What else is left to say? The tension is so thick in that clubhouse right now that you can hardly breathe. You get the feeling, just being around these guys, that they can’t wait to get away from each other for a few months. You wonder if the atmosphere is going to be any better when they all meet up again in Vero Beach next spring. You wonder if Jeff Kent might have talked his way into being traded — not that there is going to be much of a market for a guy who is going to turn 40 next spring, who has a $9 million salary and who has a famously prickly personality. You wonder if 4 1/2 months of being away from all this is going to fix it, change it, make it any better at all. This isn’t the end of 2005. The Dodgers aren’t close to being the complete and utter mess they were when Jim Tracy was fired by Paul DePodesta, Paul DePodesta was fired by Frank McCourt a month later and Terry Collins spent 24 hours thinking he was going to be named the team’s manager the next day only to have McCourt pull the rug and DePodesta out from under him. This isn’t even close to being that, and these Dodgers have a chance to be really good next year. But this much is certain: if everyone (Grady, Ned, the coaches, the players) simply pulls the covers over their eyes and pretends it’s all OK, then nothing is ever going get better. This clubhouse has become what MTV only wishes The Real World could be. Twenty-five (actually, right now, 36) people in one room, one dugout, one bus, one hotel, one airplane, and this week, they suddenly stopped being nice and started being real. But when you’re trying to win a championship, real can be a little overrated. Good luck, boys. Opening day is only six months away.
These two teams don’t look like they belong on the same field, or even in the same league. A lot of that has to do with the fact Brandon Webb is pitching for the Snakes. But a lot of it also has to do with the fact these Dodgers continue to seem somewhat disinterested. To some degree, I guess it makes sense. There is nothing left to play for except a winning record, which I once thought was a lock. Before this soon-to-be seven-game losing streak began, they needed to go just 3-11 to finish 82-80, and that seemed like a slam dunk. Now, they have to go 3-4. Not such a slam dunk. Shoot, they have to go 2-5 just to avoid a LOSING season and finish 81-81. The way this is going, even THAT seems questionable. … I won’t bore you with any game details except to say Wells lasted 4 2/3 innings and gave up five runs on nine hits. … Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 0, top 6
But first, the boys appear to have blown another one after they jumped to a 3-1 lead. With two outs and a man on first in the third, Tony Clark hit a high pop fly in foul territory beyond third base. Nomar appeared to have a bead on it, but Tony Abreu then appeared to call him off at the last second, and the ball fell between them. Clark, of course, then hit a two-run, game-tying homer. The Snakes got three more in the fourth, and Loaiza is gone now after yet another disaster. Something clearly isn’t right with the guy. … Diamondbacks 6, Dodgers 3, bottom 5
By Tony Jackson
PHOENIX — Dodgers manager Grady Little declined on Friday to directly address comments made by second baseman Jeff Kent the previous day in which Kent implied that several of the team’s young players weren’t making enough of an effort to learn from their veteran teammates. Little said he wouldn’t comment until he had a chance to hear what Kent had said directly from Kent instead of simply reading Kent’s quotes in media reports.
Little did imply, however, that the veterans aren’t entirely blameless when it comes to the widely reported clubhouse rift between the Dodgers’ veterans and youngsters.
“In a lot of ways, I think it’s a two-way street,” Little said. “It’s like a marriage. For those who have successful marriages, that’s a two-way street, too.”
Little’s message was clear: some of those veterans could stand to reach out to the younger players a little more.
The notoriously prickly Kent has been criticized at times for keeping to himself in the clubhouse. But in Kent’s defense, there was a well-publicized incident during a game in Florida two years ago when Kent tried to pull outfielder Milton Bradley aside to offer constructive criticism after Bradley made a costly baserunning mistake, and that conversation eventually led to the volatile Bradley, who is African-American, implying several days later that Kent was a racist.
Bradley has since been traded to Oakland and now is with San Diego, but the memory of that debacle might be making Kent somewhat reticent to offer advice.
Veteran third baseman Nomar Garciaparra also likes to go about his business quietly. And while veteran left fielder Luis Gonzalez has been a legendary clubhouse leader for most of his career, he has lost considerable playing time this season because of the emergence of younger outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, a fact that might be making Gonzalez less comfortable asserting a leadership role.
For now, Little is chalking Kent’s comments up to simple frustration at a time when the Dodgers appear to be out of the running for a playoff spot at the end of a season that began with so much promise.
“I think he shares that frustration that all of us feel at this point in time,” Little said. “There aren’t many of us who don’t feel it.”
Minor awards: Infielder Chin-lung Hu, presently in the majors as a September callup, and right-hander James McDonald will be named today as the Dodgers’ Organizational Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.
Hu, 23, split the season between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas before his Sept. 1 callup, batting a combined .325 with 40 doubles, 14 homers and 62 RBI. McDonald, who will turn 23 next month, split the year between advanced Single-A Inland Empire and Jacksonville, going a combined 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA. He struck out 168 batters in 134 2/3 innings, allowing just 121 hits.
Also: Shortstop Rafael Furcal tried to swing a bat before Friday night’s game, but his tight lower back wouldn’t allow him to do so. He missed his fourth consecutive game. …
Infielder Ramon Martinez, who injured his right elbow sometime during the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Colorado in which he played in place of Furcal and hasn’t played since, left Chase Field about an hour before game time Friday night and went for an MRI. …
Dodgers player development director DeJon Watson said he hopes to hire a roving minor-league hitting coordinator sometime this weekend. The job has been vacant since Bill Robinson died suddenly on July 29. Several Dodgers prospects began Arizona Instructional League play with a victory over San Diego on Friday at Peoria, Ariz., so there is a sense of urgency to fill the position. Scott Van Slyke homered in the Dodgers’ win to kick off a month-long season that will end on Oct. 20.
It came with one out in the seventh, on the first pitch thrown by Rockies reliever Matt Herges after Ethier’s three-run shot chased Ubaldo Jimenez. LaRoche’s ball landed several rows back in the leftfield bleachers. Not that it will do the Dodgers much good. They’re going to suffer their first four-game sweep ever at Coors, although the Rockies did sweep a four-gamer at Chavez Ravine back in 1993, their first year of existence. Gonzo on deck, looking for career high No. 2,500. … Rockies 9, Dodgers 4, top 8