Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson was playing meaningful games last week, perhaps more meaningful than any the big-league club will play anytime soon.
They were the first — and so far, last — World Baseball Classic games for Team Israel. Pederson, who was at Dodger Stadium on Friday to receive his Branch Rickey Award as the organizational hitter of the year, couldn’t say enough about the three games in Jupiter, Florida.
“It was a great experience, something I’ll never forget,” he said. “We were only together for I think it was maybe 10 days, and I’ve never seen a group of guys have so much team chemistry. It was an unforgettable experience.”
Andre Ethier was back in the lineup Friday against a left-handed pitcher, Jeff Francis of the Colorado Rockies. This is noteworthy because Ethier was not in the lineup when the Dodgers faced Padres left-hander Clayton Richard two days ago in San Diego.
On Thursday, Don Mattingly shared his thoughts on the disparity between Ethier’s batting average against right-handers (.325) and left-handers (.214).
I stumbled into a long conversation with Davey Lopes about baserunning on Friday (it’s not hard to do). Specifically, we talked about Nick Punto’s head-first dives into first base, which had morphed from a novelty into a regular occurrence –it happened three times in one game earlier this month, and twice more on Wednesday.
That was the lead subject of yesterday’s Dodgers notebook. Here’s more from Lopes:
The Dodgers sent Stefan Jarrn, the son of Spanish-language broadcaster, Jorge, and grandson of Hall of Famer, Jaime, to Philadelphia as the player to be named later in the Shane Victorino trade.
The 22-year-old infielder batted .209 with three homers and nine RBI in 26 games for the Rookie-level AZL Dodgers this season. Jarrn was a 40th-round draft pick by the Dodgers in 2011.
Nick Punto can’t tell you how or why or when he began perfecting his head-first dive into first base.
“I probably started it, my mom said, when I was four or five years old,” Punto said.
Now 34, Punto has ingrained the head-first dive into his brain, to the point of it becoming a reflex whenever there’s a close play at first. Conventional wisdom holds that diving head-first only slows down a runner. Sprinters don’t dive at the finish line of a race, right?
Yeah, Punto’s heard that one.
“And I say that’s because there’s a hard court, a track, at the end of that finish line,” he said.
OK, but why expose yourself to injury, flinging your body fingers-first into a hard canvas base while a first baseman attempts to catch a baseball at the same time, in the same place?
“I’ve been injured running through the base,” Punto counters. “I pulled a hamstring. You can roll an ankle. There’s lots of things you can hurt running through the base as well.”