SURPRISE, Ariz. — There’s a good reason not to take spring training statistics seriously, a reason that was on full display Tuesday at Surprise Stadium.
Louis Coleman made 27 appearances out of the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen last year. He allowed just two runs, posting a puny 0.61 earned-run average for the season. The right-hander has 117 career appearances and has only once allowed more than three runs to score in a single inning.
But in the ninth inning against the Dodgers, Coleman was pulverized by several players who have never made a major-league at-bat. Alex Guerrero hit a triple off the top of the center-field fence, roughly 400 feet from home plate. Joc Pederson walked and Noel Cuevas (surprise!) followed with a three-run home run. Aaron Bates (who has 11 career major-league at-bats) and Trayvon Robinson singled. The inning ended on a diving catch of a Mike Baxter line drive to right field.
That’s how the Dodgers (5-6-4) rallied from their second deficit of the game to beat the Kansas City Royals 7-5.
Scott Van Slyke hit a two-run home run to deep center field in the eighth inning, his second Cactus League home run. In another spring anomaly, Dodgers right-hander Javy Guerra was the winning pitcher in his worst outing of the year. He allowed two runs (one earned) in the eighth inning, as well as two hits and a walk.
“He’s down and still under control,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Haren. “Looks like he’s controlling the strike zone for the most part. The guy was fairly tight behind the plate, we thought, but both ways. He was consistent, but a lot of those balls were good throws that were down in the zone, just not getting them.”
Haren was pleased with the results, too.
“Last year, beginning of the year, I was haunted by the home run, just leaving too many balls up out over the plate,” he said. “Second half, I was keeping the ball down and getting results more like today — a lot of ground balls.
“It’s more of just a mindset, more of an execution thing. Making sure when I miss, I miss down in the zone like I did today. Trying to work to get ground balls and in big spots not trying to do too much. If I have to walk a guy, I walk a guy. … The split is more of a waste pitch, but last year at the end of the year, I threw any pitch in any count.”
Haren said he felt well enough to throw another inning, but is a bit more tired than usual for this point in spring. The Dodgers still haven’t decided whether or not Haren will be on the flight bound for Sydney on Sunday.
If Haren isn’t on the plane, he hopes that “maybe (I can) take an extra day or two where I can back off a little bit because I’ve pushed it hard to this point.”
The box score is here. Some more notes and observations:
• Justin Turner started at second base, played the first five innings, and Guerrero finished. That’s a good sign for Turner, who singled and was hit by a pitch in three plate appearances today. He raised his batting average to .381 and his on-base percentage to .500. Proceed with caution whenever evaluating Cactus League stats, but the fact that Turner started over Guerrero is a strong indication that he’s very much in the mix for a utility role.
• Chone Figgins committed an error on a routine ground ball to shortstop that he tried to backhand. The ball might have taken a bad hop; either way it missed his glove. Figgins at least looked energized at the plate. He went 2 for 4 with a couple singles, raising his average to .185.