Some injury updates … and yes, there is one for Jason Schmidt

But first, there is this: Hiroki Kuroda is throwing off a mound as we speak (or as I type, I guess would be more accurate). We can barely see him, as the visiting bullpen here is behind a mesh wall. He just stopped. Looked like about 15 pitches. … Schmidt threw about 70 pitches in an extended spring game, and it isn’t yet determined whether he is now ready for a rehab assignment. … Cory Wade feels much better, played long-toss in Arizona today and should be getting on a mound soon. He has a good chance of returning as soon as he becomes eligible, which is next Monday in San Francisco. … And Mkz had successful surgery yesterday to repair what he did to his shoulder. Torre said he doesn’t expect him back until September, but he will be around the team all year as head cheerleader, which is good news for the Dodgers because this guy is a positive presence in the clubhouse and around the younger players.

Thursday’s game now on MLB Network, not on KCAL

That’s due to a scheduling conflict with the Lakers playoff game. Not much news so far today, but the Dodgers took early BP. Saw Blake DeWitt, Russell Martin, James Loney, Juan Pierre (he ALWAYS participates), Mark Loretta and Juan Castro down there. That’s not necessarily everyone who was there, just everyone who was there when I was paying attention. Roof is open for now, but not sure what they’ll do at game time. Much like Chase Field, this place feels completely different when it’s open-air.

Andre Ethier named N.L. Player of the Week

This is the official release from MLB, which is basically a Bank of America ad:

Andre Ethier, who led the N.L. with 12 RBI, has been named National League Player of the Week presented by Bank of America for the period ending April 19th. Bank of America is the Official Bank of Major League Baseball and the only place where you can get your favorite Club logo on checks, check cards or credit cards. For more information on MLB banking, visit bankofamerica.com/MLB.
From April 13th-19th, Ethier tied for the league-lead with four home runs and eight runs scored, ranked second with 23 total bases and third with a slugging percentage of 1.000. The 26-year-old right-fielder recorded a .391 (9-for-23) batting average with two doubles in six games. Andre collected four multi-hit games along with two multi-home run performances. On April 13th vs. San Francisco, the Arizona State product connected for two home runs, a three-run homer and a solo shot, in the Dodgers’ 11-1 win. On April 18th vs. Colorado, Ethier again homered twice, with another three-run shot and a solo blast. On the following day against the Rockies, he recorded three RBI in the Dodgers’ 14-2 victory.
Other nominees this past week included Ethier’s Dodgers’ teammates Orlando Hudson (.542, 1 HR, 5 RBI), Matt Kemp (.391, 2 HR, 9 RBI) and Chad Billingsley (2-0, 2.77 ERA, 17 SO); San Diego’s David Eckstein (.429, 3 2B, 3 RBI), Adrian Gonzalez (.857 SLG, 4 HR, 5 RBI) and Heath Bell (4 SV, 0.00 ERA, 4 SO); Arizona’s Felipe Lopez (.400, .423 OBP, 10 H); Houston’s Miguel Tejada (.520, .556 OBP, 13 H); Milwaukee’s Mike Cameron (.348, 3 HR, 4 RBI); St. Louis’ Brian Barden (.500, 3 HR, 3 RBI), Chris Duncan (.455, 1 HR, 7 RBI) and Ryan Ludwick (.417, 3 HR, 10 RBI); Atlanta’s Jeff Francoeur (.435, 2 2B, 5 RBI); Florida’s Jeremy Hermida (.318, 2 HR, 7 RBI) and Cody Ross (.429, 3 HR, 11 RBI); New York’s Jose Reyes (.423, 1 3B, 2 RBI); Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard (.350, 2 HR, 5 RBI) and Raul Ibanez (.550, 3 HR, 5 RBI); and Washington’s Nick Johnson (.429, 1 2B, 1 RBI).

Dodgers 14, Rockies 2 … and first place alone for the first time this season

Matt Kemp had a monster day, going 3 for 5 with a double and two HRs, one of them a grand slam. He is reaping the benefits of finally buying into the Torre/Mattingly approach to hitting, something Matty was resistant to for much of last season. This year, he has bought into it wholeheartedly, and the results are undeniable. He is hitting .383 with half of his 18 hits having gone for extra bases. He also has a .434 on-base percentage and a .723 slugging average. Orlando Hudson and Andre Ethier had big days, as well, the former going 3 for 4 with a double and three RBI, the latter 2 for 4 with a double, a sac fly and three RBI. And thanks to Scott Elbert, who was given the win by scorer’s discretion after J-Mac failed to go the requisite five, the Dodgers were able to get through what Joe Torre had said would be a “bullpen day” using just three pitchers. Two days after getting called up from Double-A, Elbert went 2 1/3, giving up solo homers to Brad Hawpe and Chris Iannetta (who was 1 for 21 before that blast) but not walking anybody. This was a big game for Elbert. … Dodgers scored 50 runs on a perfect, six-game homestand, with 77 hits. The winning streak is now eight, matching last year’s longest, and the record is 10-3. Dodgers lead the Pods by one game in the N.L. West. Off to Houston tomorrow morning, Clayton Kershaw vs. Russ Ortiz on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park. Think the boys might score some runs in that yard?

Today’s lineup and this morning’s tidbits

Cory Wade is feeling better, so they scrapped the MRI, and he’ll go straight to Camelback Ranch tomorrow for his rehab. Hiroki Kuroda played catch today, will travel with the team and is expected to throw off a mound soon (I’m guessing Tuesday). And Eric Stults will be pushed back in the rotation to keep the front four on their regular rest, so he won’t pitch until Friday night at Colorado, which will be on seven days’ rest unless he is used out of the bullpen. Torre said Stults would be available today, but ONLY today. … Also, Joe had an explanation for why Matt Kemp had his sunglasses on his cap when he lost that ball in the sun yesterday. He had taken them off because he couldn’t see the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, which is actually important for the seven fielders. After that inning, when he got back to the dugout, Matt immediately switched to the flip-down shades for the rest of the game.

I can’t figure out this lineup. James Loney has been struggling lately (3 for 17 on the homestand), so he drops out of the cleanup spot, but he only drops to fifth, which gives the Dodgers back-to-back lefties with Andre Ethier hitting fourth, and the Rockies do have two lefties in their bullpen. Russell Martin drops to sixth. The oddest part of this is that Ethier is hitting .154 (2 for 13) for his career, albeit with a home run, against Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Also, Joe said he hopes to get five innings out of James McDonald, but he still considers this is a bullpen day, so he added that it won’t be a horrible failure if J-Mac doesn’t get that far. Sounds like Ramon Troncoso will be the second guy in.

Jill covering the game today so I can have a light day before the road trip.

SS Furcal
2B Hudson
LF Ramirez
RF Ethier
1B Loney
C Martin
CF Kemp
3B Blake
RH McDonald

Dodgers 9, Rockies 5

Manny finally went deep for the first time this season, then he went deep again. Andre Ethier went deep twice, as well. Chad Billingsley was really good for five innings, then a little shaky in the sixth, but he got through and handed the bullpen a 5-3 lead which was quickly widened when the Dodgers rallied for four in the seventh. The bullpen was a tad shaky today, but it didn’t really matter because the boys had such a big lead. Oh, and Will Ohman drove in the first run of his big-league career, using Manny’s bat, with an RBI single in that seventh-inning rally. Without looking it up (taking his word for it), Ohman is now batting .500 lifetime (2 for 4) with one walk in five plate appearances. He used Manny’s bat, but he used his own glove. “Send them to the Hall of Fame,” he said. … Matt Kemp went 1 for 3 with a walk and has now hit safely in all 12 games this season. But he also lost a fly ball in the sun while his sunglasses were still in his cap. … Aaron Cook simply isn’t himself this year. Dodgers, who had three of their regulars on the bench, got to him for five runs on eight hits over four innings, all of it on Manny’s HRs (both solo) and Ethier’s first one (a three-run shot). Cook’s ERA in three starts is now 10.22. … I also found out after the game that Hiroki Kuroda probably will NOT throw off a mound tomorrow despite his having told the Japanese media that. He probably will, however, play catch again. … Dodgers run their winning streak to seven games, one shy of their longest one last year. They are 9-3. Pods playing a night game, but it’s going on now because they’re on the East Coast. James McDonald against Ubaldo Jimenez tomorrow at 1:10.

Remember Chuck Tiffany? Well, he’s back

Assistant GM Logan White, the Dodgers scouting director who drafted (second round) and signed Tiffany in 2003 — the team had taken Chad Billingsley in the first round — signed Tiffany again this week, this time to a minor-league contract. The Tampa Bay Rays had given up on the left-hander after he had trouble coming back from rotator-cuff surgery, releasing him about three weeks ago. But Logan saw him throw and deemed him at least healthy enough to take another chance on. Tiffany has been assigned to extended spring training for now, where he will try to pitch his way onto the roster of one of the Dodgers’ affiliates. You may recall he was traded to Tampa Bay on Jan .14, 2006, along with pitching prospect Edwin Jackson, for relievers Danys Baez and Lance Carter. Jackson was a big part of the Rays’ run to the A.L. pennant last year before being traded to Detroit in December. Baez is back in the majors with Baltimore after missing all of last year. And Carter hasn’t pitched in the majors since the Dodgers released him after that season.

Here is the link to a story on True Blue L.A. about Tiffany that appeared on March 31.

http://www.truebluela.com/2009/3/31/816787/sometimes-spring-is-where-dreams

By the way, forgot to mention this earlier, but James McDonald WILL start tomorrow’s game and be on a regular starter’s program, so it won’t be a “bullpen day,” as Joe Torre had previously said it might be. The addition of Scott Elbert to the bullpen means McDonald won’t be needed there today.

The trouble with Hong-Chih Kuo

Talked to him briefly this morning. He said there is nothing wrong physically, but that he might be having some mechanical problems that he doesn’t have time to do anything about when is on the mound on in a tight situation, as he usually is. He did say he is struggling with his confidence, though.
“I have just lost confidence,” he said. “I just have to keep working.”
Joe Torre said he would have no problem giving the ball to Kuo in a tight eighth-inning situation today, but that he would strongly prefer to find an innocuous situation to put him into, say with a big lead, so Kuo would be free to work on things and perhaps find himself. Joe also said Stan Conte indicated Kuo could probably pitch on back-to-back days now, something Torre has been reluctant to do because of Kuo’s health history.
“(His struggles) might be based on the fact he hasn’t worked a lot,” Torre said.
Also, Cory Wade will have an MRI on Monday just to be safe before he goes to Arizona. And we asked Joe why Elbert was the move given that they could have moved Mkz to the 60-day DL and called up Jeff Weaver. Joe didn’t really answer except to say that there isn’t a 40-man roster spot open RIGHT NOW and that as such, Elbert was the easist move. But he did concede that Mkz probably will be moved to the 60-day soon.

Cory Wade placed on 15-day DL, Scott Elbert recalled from Chattanooga

It’s a recurrence of the same shoulder issue he dealt with last season and in spring training, nothing major. He says it went away completely for a while, but it flared up again after his most recent outing last Saturday night at Arizona, and it has been so crazy this week that no one seemed to have noticed that he hadn’t pitched since then. Cory said it just kept getting worse after that, but that he is optimistic that a little rest will be sufficient to get rid of the issue. The move is backdated to Sunday, which means he is eligible to return on April 27 and stands a good chance of doing so. He’ll go to Camelback Ranch on Monday, when the team leaves for Houston, and pitch in a couple of extended spring training games there to get himself right.
“We can’t be one man short in the bullpen,” Wade said. “Those guys have been working hard down there. We’re just doing what is best for the team.”
Scott Elbert had made two starts at Double-A Chattanooga totaling eight innings, so it would seem logical that he’ll go to the pen for the big club, which now has three lefties down there. Remember in spring training when everyone was fretting over the fact that they only had one? Elbert gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits with four walks and nine strikeouts and held opposing hitters to a .226 average for the Lookouts.
Oh, and Hiroki Kuroda did fine playing catch this morning, about 30 throws. He told some Japanese reporters he hopes to throw off a mound tomorrow, but I haven’t confirmed that with Stan Conte yet.

Also, here is today’s lineup, a bit of a skeleton crew with Furcal, Martin and Blake all sitting:

2B Hudson
RF Ethier
LF Ramirez
1B Loney
CF Kemp
3B DeWitt
C Ausmus
SS Castro
RH Billingsley