More trouble for Miller

Greg Miller faced five batters today, with all five reaching and all five scoring. He walked the first two, missing badly with some pitches. Given the horrendous control issues he dealt with last summer, resulting in his being demoted from Triple-A Las Vegas to Double-A Jacksonville midseason, you had to wonder if he is on the verge of a relapse. But Miller said that wasn’t in the back of his mind as he went to the hill to start the fifth inning.
“It’s a new year,” he said. “I have a whole bunch of new years in front of me, and you need to start with square one.”
Miller wasn’t the only one whistling past the graveyard.
“Greg for me has made a lot of progress this spring, with a lot of positive things,” pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “But there is still another step of being able to take it into a game. We feel like this is a quality young man with a quality arm, and he just needs to get over that hump and be able to take that into a ballgame and make adjustments within an inning. We believe in this young man, and he just needs to keep believing that with time, he can get through this thing.”
Honeycutt and manager Joe Torre have vowed to remain patient with Miller.
“One thing we have to make sure we do is stay with him and continue to talk to him,” Torre said. “We just have to make sure he believes in himself and finds a way. The tough part of being a pitcher is that if you struggle, you have to wait a few days before you go back out there again. But we want to let him know we’re still behind him.”

Braves 10, Dodgers 3

Kuroda made his Dodgers debut, getting through his allotted two innings on so few pitches (21) that he then had to go to the bullpen and throw some more. He faced the minimum allowing just a leadoff single to Kelly Johnson in the first inning that was erased on Yuniel Escobar’s first-pitch GIDP. But on a day when manager Joe Torre more or less admitted that Jason Schmidt won’t be ready for opening day, the only other serious candidate for the fifth starter’s spot, Esteban Loaiza, got roughed up in the third and fourth innings, something pitching coach Rick Honeycutt later blamed on the fact Loaiza is trying to implement a mechanical adjustment Honeycutt suggested to him and hasn’t gotten comfortable with it yet. Loaiza gave up three runs on four hits over two innings. Greg Miller then came on to pitch the fifth and seemed to have a recurrence of last year’s control problems, walking the first two batters and missing badly on some pitches. He then started throwing strikes and got knocked around. By the time Honeycutt came to get him, Miller had faced five batters, and all five had reached. All five would ultimately score, leaving Miller with the dreaded ERA of infinity for the spring. Both Torre and Honeycutt said after the game they aren’t concerned despite the fact that Miller had similar control issues last season in the minors. Andy LaRoche went 1 for 3 with a double, which he smoked up the right-center gap in the first inning, and had a solid day at third base, as well. Dodgers fall to 1-1 for the spring in what probably was their final appearance ever at the newly christened Champion Stadium (the name is new, the stadium isn’t.). And they played some great ’70s and ’80s rock music here all day long, a little Abba, a little Beegees, a little Fleetwood Mac and even a song by A-ha (extra points if you remember them). So all in all, it was an enjoyable afternoon at Happy Land.

Bowa agrees to wear helmet … reluctantly

But only after the Dodgers front office got a call from the commish’s office, threatening to immediately eject any base coach who walks onto the field without a helmet will be immediately ejected. Funny thing is, Mariano Duncan didn’t wear ANYTHING yesterday, not even the hard insert that Bowa wore, but the umpires didn’t say anything to him. Anyway, Kim Ng called Joe Torre last night and told him about the call from MLB, and Joe talked to Bowa this morning. Bowa agreed to wear the helmet. But in talking to the writers during batting practice, he also reiterated his threat of yesterday to walk onto the field in full catcher’s gear, just to make a point. Anyway, today’s game here at happy land is about to start, and it’s on ESPN if you want to check it out. It’s the debut of Hiroki Kuroda, so there is some intrigue. Oh, and they just officially christened the place Champons Stadium. It used to be called Cracker Jack Stadium or something like that.