Fernando Valenzuela will be inducted into Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday.

Fernando Valenzuela

Fernando Valenzuela will be inducted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame — el Pabellón de la Fama del Caribe — on Sunday in Hermosillo, Mexico, at Universidad Sonora, Centro de Los Artes.

The current Dodgers broadcaster and retired pitcher was born about 200 miles south of Hermosillo, then began his career in Sonora playing for Mayos de Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League at age 16. He also played for Naranjeros de Hermosillo and Águilas de Mexicali in the LMP and played in the Caribbean Series. Valenzuela’s induction will recognize his career in the LMP and in Major League Baseball.

The 52-year-old is scheduled to travel to Hermosillo Friday to partake in the opening ceremonies of Estadio Sonora, the brand-new stadium that will host the Caribbean Series. Valenzuela will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the 7 p.m. game between Yaquis de Obregón and Criollos de Caguas.

Continue reading

A three-headed salute.

Jackie Robinson statue

What has three heads, six blue stirrups and always smiles?

Find out for yourself on April 15, when the Dodgers give away a Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella statue to the first 40,000 fans at that night’s game against the San Diego Padres. April 15, always a big day at Dodger Stadium, marks the 66th anniversary of Robinson breaking MLB’s color barrier.

It’s also a 2-star game under the Dodgers’ new tiered pricing plan. There are no bobblehead giveaways on 2- or 1-star games this season, so this might be as close as it gets.

Daily Distractions: Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson; minor-league signings; Scott Rolen update.

Jackie Robinson was born 94 years ago today in Cairo, Georgia. To commemorate the occasion, Google baked a birthday cake with 94 candles on top made Robinson the “doodle” on its home page today.

We’ll be writing a lot about Robinson this year. The 66th anniversary of his major-league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers is April 15. Three days earlier is the planned release date of “42,” the biopic starring Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. You can view the trailer here.

In light of this week’s news about a Miami-based PED lab that claimed several major-leaguers as clients, I’ll take this space to point out that Robinson was neither a drinker nor a smoker – let alone a juicer.

An often-overlooked local landmark is the plaque commemorating Robinson’s boyhood home at 121 Pepper Street in Pasadena. (There’s no home there now, just a plaque, as the home was torn down in the early 1970s.) Feel free to leave a present there today. Or a doodle.

Lots of links today:

Continue reading

Hanley Ramirez will play in Caribbean Series.

Hanley Ramirez bobbleheadWe think this is an attempt to sculpt Hanley Ramirez’s “I see you” pose. This is the first bobblehead that will be given away at a Dodgers game this season, on April 30 against the Colorado Rockies.

This image was released by the Dodgers on the same day it was announced that Ramirez will play for Leones del Escogido, a team based in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean Series, the annual championship of the four winter leagues. Ramirez played for the D.R.-based Licey Tigers during the Dominican Winter League’s regular season. The series will be played in Hermosillo, Mexico from Feb. 1-7.

Ramirez also played in the 2006 Caribbean Series for the eventual champion, Valencia & Maracay.

The next two months will be busy for Ramirez. Dodgers position players report to spring training on Feb. 15. He’s then expected to play in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic, whose first game is March 7. While the Dodgers hope that this will help Ramirez hone his defense at shortstop, he must also guard against fatigue during the 162-game regular season that follows.

It’s something to keep an eye on, as Bobble-Hanley demonstrates above.

Daily Distractions: Alfredo Silverio, Clayton Kershaw, Sandy Amoros, etc.

Alfredo Silverio: Damaged goods or the one that got away?

Alfredo  SilverioMLB.com reports that the minor-league outfielder, scooped up by the Miami Marlins in the Rule 5 draft, seems ready to come back from a devastating car accident last year that wiped out his season and ended his tenure with the Dodger organization.

For about a week, Silverio has been working out at the Marlins’ Spring Training complex in Jupiter. He has been taking part in the team’s voluntary minicamp at Roger Dean Stadium.

On the back fields, Silverio is taking batting practice and doing some drills, while not pushing it when it comes to throwing.

“I feel back to normal,” the outfielder said.

Silverio wasn’t one of the three Dodgers prospects ranked among the majors’ top 100 by MLB.com yesterday. (Those spots went to Yasiel Puig, Zach Lee and Joc Pederson.) You figure Silverio either belongs somewhere in that group or he won’t be the same player once he faces live pitching. Only time will tell.

Some links for a midweek morning:

Continue reading

How Alex Rodriguez could become a Dodger.

Alex Rodriguez

What does Alex Rodriguez’s reported PED connection mean for his future with the Yankees? (AP Photo)

Alex Rodriguez was one of several major-leaguers linked to a Miami PED distributor in a report today by the Miami New Times. At least so far, he’s the only player whose team is attempting to void his contract as a result.

From MLBTradeRumors.com:

The Yankees are exploring multiple avenues to void their contract with Alex Rodriguez, several baseball sources told ESPNNewYork.com’s Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand.

The three-time American League MVP is owed $114MM over the next five seasons. An industry source says the Yankees “are looking at about 20 different things,” including whether A-Rod breached the contract by taking medical treatment from an outside doctor without the team’s authorization, and the possibility that he may have broken the law by purchasing controlled substances from the clinic.

If the Yankees do take action to 86 the remainder of the third baseman’s deal, they can’t do anything until the MLB investigation is concluded, according to a source.  For his part, Rodriguez has issued a statement denying the allegations.

If his contract is voided, could Rodriguez find his way to Chavez Ravine?

First, that’s a big “if.”

Continue reading

Daily Distractions: Several major-leaguers implicated in PED report; Suck, Schmidt and Sax.

Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez’s HCG supplier, Tony Bosch, has a long list of clients in professional sports, according to a report today in the Miami New Times. (AP photo)

Just in case a small patch of your thick skin still hasn’t numbed to the idea that some professional athletes use performancing-enhancing drugs, the Miami New Times reported today that Alex Rodriguez, Yasmani Grandal, Gio Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Nelson Cruz are listed as clients of a Miami clinic that distributes illegal PEDs.

Rodriguez and Gonzalez – whose father did admit to purchasing weight-loss products from the clinic – have already denied any connection to the clinic’s former proprietor, Tony Bosch.

Major League Baseball will have the final say. The league is investigating the matter and suspensions could be levied if the apparent PED use can be proven. Cabrera, Colon and Grandal were all suspended 50 games for violating MLB’s drug policy at some point last year. Gonzalez, Rodriguez and Cruz have never been penalized for PED use.

Regardless of the outcome, this story represents another wrinkle in the never-ending game of cat and mouse that exists among athletes seeking an edge, the PED suppliers who enable them, and the sports and government authorities charged with policing this activity.

Even if you’re numb to this plot, give it a read. The level of journalism is excellent, and there’s tremendous value in weeding out another hub for illegal drug distribution – regardless of whether the clientele is famous or not.

There is a Dodgers connection. You might recall Bosch’s name from 2010, when Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for the women’s fertility drug HCG. Bosch’s clinic was the supplier of Ramirez’s HCG.

As the author, Tim Elfrink, concludes: “Indeed, there are two patterns to the names of athletes in Bosch’s records: (1) Most have direct ties to Miami and often to the UM Hurricanes baseball program, and (2) a number have already been caught doping — which suggests that either Bosch isn’t particularly gifted at crafting drugs that can beat performance tests or his clients aren’t careful.”

Onto the links:

Continue reading

Devising the Dodgers’ composite prospect rankings.

Before the famous economist/statistician/sabrmetrician Nate Silver was chosen as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2009, he crunched baseball stats for BaseballProspectus.com. He found more success in the political arena by taking an old idea and adapting it to a new subject.

Specifically, Silver aggregated just about every pre-election poll he could find, giving each one more or less weight through a formula he devised, to come up with a reliably accurate “prediction model” for the major U.S. elections.

With a nod to Nate, I decided to aggregate four recently released lists ranking the Dodgers prospects — Baseball America, FanGraphs, Minor League Ball and Baseball Prospectus — into a composite ranking. There’s no weighting formula and this is no prediction model. (Besides, success in baseball can’t be defined objectively; if it were, there wouldn’t be so many damn stats). So while Yasiel Puig is listed first in the table you’re about to read, I can’t tell you what that actually means for his long-term baseball success. I can only promise he will not be elected president of the United States.

Continue reading

Reports: Yankees sign Juan Rivera.

Juan RiveraJuan Rivera‘s days as a Dodger seemed over from the moment the final out of the season was recorded. The 34-year-old was a free agent and Ned Colletti already had a backup corner outfielder under contract in Jerry Hairston Jr. (and later, Skip Schumaker).

It became official Monday, with multiple reports out of New York that Rivera signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees, the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela 17 years ago.

In 109 games last season, Rivera batted .244 with nine home runs and 47 RBIs. It was a disappointing follow-up to his 62-game audition as a Dodger in 2011 (.274/.333/.406) in a year the Dodgers could have used him with injuries befalling Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and Shane Victorino, Bobby Abreu and Tony Gwynn Jr. doing little with their playing time.

The Dodgers purchased Rivera’s contract after he was designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays on July 12, 2011, then got a one-year $4 million contract after the season. The Dodgers chose to buy out Rivera’s contract for $500,000 rather than exercise his option for 2013.