Carl Crawford was left feeling upbeat after seeing live pitching for the first time at Camelback Ranch on Monday.
“Everything felt good,” he said after seeing about 30 pitches. “I’ve just got to get my timing down.”
Chad Billingsley sounded like a man who was just happy to be on the field Monday. At least, happy to be there and happy to be throwing strikes.
Billingsley didn’t really have a bad thing to say about his first appearance of the spring, even though his stat line said otherwise. The right-hander allowed five hits, two runs (both earned) and struck out one batter in two innings against the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs’ first four batters of the game hit a double, double, home run and single off Billingsley, putting the Dodgers in a 2-0 hole early in a 7-6 win.
But more importantly for the 28-year-old, he was pitching again and his elbow felt fine.
On a back field, far from the Dodgers and Vin Scully (who was in Glendale to broadcast his first game of spring training), Mike Piazza and Team Italy were preparing for the World Baseball Classic at Camelback Ranch.
Piazza took a break from his duties as hitting coach to tell reporters that he had no regrets over what he wrote about Scully in his book “Longshot.” The former Dodgers catcher took plenty of heat for insinuating that Scully fueled the perception that, by setting a deadline to sign a contract extension in 1998, Piazza was being disloyal to the team.
On Monday, he responded:
MLB Network analyst and 11-year major-league veteran Eric Byrnes was at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday. He and his MLBN colleagues are making several stops in spring training to film video segments for their annual “30 clubs in 30 Days tour.”
That’s a lot of clubs in a short amount of time, and Byrnes said he’ll be seeing 10 of them, starting with the Cubs, Royals, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Reds and now the Dodgers. He’ll be at the Brewers, A’s and Angels later in the week. I asked him for his thoughts about what he’s seen so far from talking to and watching the Dodgers. We hit on a variety of other topics that I’ll save for future posts/stories, so enjoy this two question Q-and-A.
Wearing the same stoic expression he used to retire six of the seven batters he faced Sunday, Zack Greinke explained his approach toward spring training games in the Dodgers’ clubhouse.
“I try to not pay any attention to the results,” Greinke said. “If you’re getting hit pretty hard then you have to think about it a little bit. I don’t take anything positive from it. I guess you only take the negative out, for the most part.”
It seems Greinke won’t spend much time thinking about his first appearance in a Dodgers uniform. He threw two scoreless innings that followed the script almost perfectly. Greinke tossed 11 pitches, all for strikes.
There are no ties in baseball. Except when it’s spring training.
Neither the Dodgers (0-1-1) or White Sox (1-0-1) were content to let the exhibition season end without needing three numbers to describe their record. Either that or Robin Ventura, the home manager, elected not to play after exactly three hours of baseball at Camelback Ranch on Sunday.
Dodgers reliever Peter Moylan surrendered a 2-run home run to White Sox slugger Adam Dunn in his first Cactus League inning. The Dodgers scored when Tim Federowicz doubled and Hanley Ramirez drove him home with a single in the third, and again on Luis Cruz‘s solo home run to left field in the sixth.
Here’s what we learned:
Hyun-Jin Ryu’s clubhouse demeanor after his first appearance in a Dodgers uniform was much the same as it was before: Even-keeled with a dose of humor.
Ryu threw a scoreless third inning against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch. He got Blake Tekotte to ground out on a ball hit slowly back to the mound. He struck out Gordon Beckham on a changeup. He allowed a triple to DeWayne Wise that sliced into the right-field corner, then got Jeff Keppinger to fly out to left field to end the inning.
“My goal honestly was not to walk anybody today,” Ryu said. “I guess I succeeded.”
Veteran utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr. knows his place on the Dodgers’ roster. Saturday, a reporter asked him to compare his quick return to the field to teammates Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, who are still waiting to get clearance to play after having surgery last year.
“You’ve got more to lose with Matty and Carl than me,” Hairston deadpanned.
Maybe Hanley Ramirez was right when he said that getting game experience at shortstop in the Winter League isn’t as valuable as practicing before the game begins.
Ramirez got a chance to validate his self-confidence in the second inning Saturday. The first batter, Dayan Viciedo, hit a ground ball up the middle. Ramirez ranged to his left, fielded the ball cleanly, then spun and threw Viciedo out.
Matt Magill had never pitched in a spring training game before Saturday, but you wouldn’t have known that by the results: He and non-roster invitee Mark Lowe were the only two pitchers that didn’t allow a run in the Dodgers’ 9-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Magill entered the game with two outs in the seventh inning. He quickly surrendered an infield single when shortstop Dee Gordon couldn’t pick a hard grounder off his backhand, allowing a run to score (it was charged to Kelvin De La Cruz). Magill then struck out the next three batters he faced and induced a fly ball to end the eighth inning — the only 1-2-3 inning defensively for the Dodgers.
That doesn’t always mean much in spring training, but it was a good sign that Magill was calm. For the 23-year-old from Simi Valley, that was one of two keys.
“Just go out and work on my fastball command,” he said, “and work on not getting too hyped up for the first big-league experience.”