The Dodgers are presently in their second week of a winter development program in which 16 of the club’s most major-league-ready prospects were brought to Los Angeles for an overall primer on life in the big leagues. The purpose of the event was to give those players some sense of familiarity that in theory will enable them to make a more comfortable transition to the big leagues when they eventually do get called up.
The program is the brainchild of general manager Ned Colletti, player development director DeJon Watson and assistant player development director Chris Haydock. Watson is overseeing the program, which includes daily on-field workouts at Dodger Stadium followed by sessions in the weight room. The afternoons are devoted to orientation-style instruction on such matters as dealing with the media, handling finances, proper off-field conduct and baseball’s intricate roster-management rules. There also are English lessons for Spanish-speaking players.
“We wanted to … let them get used to the environment and the surroundings,” Dodgers player development director DeJon Watson said. “We mainly touch on the strengthening part of it, the mental side of it and whether there are any tweaks we need to make mechanically. It’s a chance to address some of those things early in a more relaxed environment rather than trying to alter things in a spring-training setting where they’re trying to compete for jobs.”
Those players participating include top pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw and highly regarded shortstop prospect Ivan DeJesus Jr. Outfielder Delwyn Young, infielder Chin-lung Hu and third baseman Andy LaRoche also are participating despite the fact all three already have some big-league service time.
Also, the team released the following comments from club officials this morning on the passing of Johnny Podres:
Dodger Owner and Chairman Frank McCourt:
I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Johnny Podres during the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1955 World Series championship. The memories of Johnnys career and his significant accomplishments will forever be remembered by Dodger fans everywhere.
Dodger Special Advisor to the Chairman and former teammate Tommy Lasorda:
“I roomed with Johnny Podres and I can say, without a doubt, he was one of the greatest guys I ever had the pleasure of playing with. He represented the Dodgers to the highest degree of class, dignity and character. I’ve never, ever heard anybody say anything bad about Johnny Podres. He was a great roomie, a great teammate, and a great friend.”
Former Dodger General Manager Buzzie Bavasi:
He was one in a million. I have said this many times: I’ve had many good pitchers on my teams during my career, including the best in the business in Sandy Koufax and I am sure that all these pitchers will agree that if a club had to win one game, it would be Podres that would get the call. He did it many times for me during his career. I am going to miss him. I know the first thing he will do when he gets upstairs is to look for Walter Alston and Leo Durocher.
Former teammate Don Newcombe:
“When I heard of Johnnys passing, my mind went back to Yankee Stadium, 1955, the seventh game of the World Series. I thank God for Johnny Podres, as I do all the time. I remember how confident he was in the clubhouse before Game 7. Walter Alston called a meeting and Johnny said, Just give me one run. Well they gave him two and we were champs. He was a man of his word, he lived up to his word, and I appreciate it.”