Andre Ethier is the designated hitter in Dodgers’ first road interleague game of the season.

Andre Ethier is the Dodgers’ designated hitter for tonight’s scheduled game against the Minnesota Twins. It’s the first game in which the Dodgers can use a designated hitter, since last night’s game against the Twins was postponed until tomorrow.

It also offers a brief respite from the team’s so-called “four outfielder problem.” Carl Crawford is in left field, Matt Kemp is in center and Yasiel Puig is in right field against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson.

Drew Butera is the Dodgers’ catcher. Tim Federowicz was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque and Miguel Olivo was recalled earlier today.

The weather forecast for Minneapolis is decidedly miserable — temperatures in the low 40s, clouds overhead — but not impossible for a baseball game.

Here are the lineups for both teams:
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Miguel Olivo joins the Dodgers, TIm Federowicz optioned to Triple-A as Dodgers shuffle catchers.

Miguel Olivo

Miguel Olivo is a veteran of 1,116 major-league games, but none since June of last year. (Getty Images)

The Dodgers have had some wiggle room with their roster for at least a couple weeks now. From the time Chad Billingsley exited his first (and still only) rehabilitation start on April 6, it’s been less and less likely that the right-hander would return within the first two months of the season.

Wednesday, the Dodgers formally acknowledged that fact. Billingsley was transfered to the 60-day disabled list and the Dodgers selected the contract of catcher Miguel Olivo to the 40-man roster.

Rather than continue to stash Olivo in Triple-A Albuquerque, where he’s batting .390 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 15 games, the Dodgers recalled Olivo and optioned catcher Tim Federowicz to Albuquerque for the second time this season.

Olivo, 35, hasn’t appeared in a major-league game since June of last year with the Miami Marlins. He showed well in spring training, batting .263 (5 for 19) in nine games as a non-roster invitee on a minor-league contract. When he was returned to the minors, Olivo requested his release.

Ultimately Olivo bid his time at Triple-A and was rewarded for his patience.

Federowicz was batting .109 (5 for 46) with two doubles in 13 games. Neither he nor Drew Butera (.190) provided much offense in the absence of starter A.J. Ellis, but Butera is out of options.

Ellis, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee April 7, is expected back in mid-May.

Paco Rodriguez returns to the Dodgers, if only for a day. Updates.

Paco Rodriguez mugshotPaco Rodriguez is returning to the Dodgers.

The left-handed reliever was recalled from the Albuquerque Isotopes on Tuesday, according to a release issued by the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate. The Minnesota Twins are hosting the Dodgers tomorrow; today’s game was postponed due to inclement weather in Minneapolis and the teams will play a day-night doubleheader Thursday.

The Dodgers haven’t issued an announcement or a corresponding roster move, probably because there isn’t one. Major-league teams are allowed to carry 26 players on their 25-man roster for a doubleheader — but only in the case of day-night doubleheaders that have been scheduled 24 hours in advance. The rule went into effect with the most recent collective bargaining agreement, which was enacted in 2012.

Since this doubleheader fits the bill, Rodriguez might only be with the team Thursday before he heads back to Albuquerque.

Rodriguez allowed two runs in eight appearances spanning 5 ⅔ innings with the Dodgers. He pitched three scoreless innings at Albuquerque.

Update (5:36 p.m.): According to the minor league transactions page, Carlos Triunfel has been optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. Triunfel’s trifle of a major-league recall lasted less than 48 hours.

Update 2 (7:30 p.m.): The Dodgers officially announced that Rodriguez has been recalled and Carlos Triunfel has been optioned to Albuquerque.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti joins the chorus calling for SportsNet LA in more homes.

From the Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti chided Time Warner Cable at an industry gathering Tuesday for not reaching deals with other TV providers so all fans of the Dodgers could watch the team’s games.

The Dodgers are more than a month into their regular season and so far only customers of Time Warner Cable Inc., its partner Bright House Networks, and a small operator called Champion Broadband have been able to see them.

That leaves out subscribers of major providers such as DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon and AT&T.

The contract to broadcast Dodgers games, which had long been with Fox Sports’ Prime Ticket regional sports network, was snatched up Time Warner Cable Inc. last year in a deal estimated to be worth $7 billion over the next two decades.

Garcetti used a keynote speech at the Cable Show industry conference to press for a deal.

“I hope that we can resolve the fact that our home town baseball team, the Dodgers, is not currently seen on all of our boxes around the city,” he said.

Daily Distractions: The Dodgers won’t play today and Zack Greinke shouldn’t mind.

Zack  Greinke

Zack Greinke was scheduled to pitch in tonight’s game against the Minnesota Twins. (Associated Press photo)

Attention, Target Field shoppers: It’s raining in Minnesota.

It’s raining so much, that the Dodgers won’t play the Minnesota Twins today. The game has been postponed until Thursday at 4 p.m. (PST) as part of a day-night doubleheader, with the first game beginning at 10 a.m.

It couldn’t happen to a better pitcher.

While some hurlers are such creatures of habit that anything more or less than regular rest throws their performance off-kilter, Zack Greinke doesn’t seem to mind the occasional extra day. Tonight’s scheduled starter will presumably take the ball tomorrow night on six days’ rest. Here are Greinke’s career numbers on six days’ rest, via Baseball-Reference.com:

   W-L  ERA  IP    H   R  ER  HR  BB SO  HBP WP BF  WHIP   SO9 SO/W
   11-6 2.72 149.0 144 56 45  12  38 116  6  6  620 1.221  7.0 3.05

Greinke is also in the midst of a ridiculous hot streak that’s seen him pitch at least five innings without allowing more than two runs in 20 consecutive starts, including the 2013 postseason. That’s the longest such streak in the modern era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

His numbers since last July 4: Greinke has a 1.76 ERA, averaging 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings against 8.5 baserunners, and five strikeouts for every walk. So the Twins have that to look forward to.

Some bullet points for a World Wish Day:
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Daily Distractions: Imagining a world in which the Dodgers and Clippers are owned by the same group.

Magic Johnson

Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson is reportedly interested in buying the Clippers if Donald Sterling is forced to sell the team. (Getty Images)

Baseball’s Detroit Tigers and hockey’s Detroit Red Wings have been owned by the same man, Mike Ilitch, since 1992. There is little overlap between the MLB and NHL seasons, so it’s not hard to share the same core group of fans. There are no other MLB or NHL teams in town. For his part, Ilitch quickly turned the Red Wings from a loser into one of hockey’s most valuable brands. By the time he bought the Tigers, he had built up enough goodwill in the city to be welcomed by local baseball fans with open arms.

For those who question if it’s possible to own two teams in the same market, look no further than Detroit.

Los Angeles is not Detroit, of course, and it might be time to start asking questions in Southern California. Magic Johnson has reportedly expressed interest in buying the NBA’s Clippers from disgraced owner Donald Sterling. What would it look like if the Dodgers and Clippers were owned by the same group?

Fans already boo Clippers star Chris Paul whenever he’s shown on the video board at Dodger Stadium. Pau Gasol and other Lakers are cheered like the hometown team. Clearly, Dodger Stadium is a Laker stadium. This might get weird.

Or will it? If Johnson is the face of Dodger ownership, he’s also the face of the WNBA’s Sparks and Magic Johnson Theaters. His name is not synonymous with the Dodgers; it’s synonymous with “multiple business interests.” In theory, it should be easy to put the Clippers in the context of Another Magic Johnson Business Interest. Same goes for the other Guggenheim investors; it’s yet to be seen how many of them want in on the Clippers.

In practice, how weird this gets might depend on why Dodger fans boo Clipper players. Is it a knee-jerk reaction to the Clipper brand from Laker fans? Is it because of Sterling? Is it just a Chris Paul thing?

Sterling might be replaceable; we’ll find out soon enough. Paul’s time as a Clipper is inherently temporary. But if it’s a knee-jerk reaction from Laker fans, this might not go over well.

Johnson was a minority owner of the Lakers until 2010, when he sold his shares to Patrick Soon-Shiong, but that didn’t really change his status as a face of (and a mouthpiece for) the Lakers franchise. A world in which Magic Johnson owns the Clippers could be an uncomfortable one for Laker fans. This could be perceived as heel turn worse than Phil Jackson joining the Knicks’ front office.

Johnson said last October in Atlanta that Los Angeles can be both a Lakers town and a Dodgers town. Selling Dodger fans on the idea that this can be a Clipper town too might be beyond even Johnson’s long reach.

Some bullet points for an International Astronomy Day:
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Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig officially hits Hollywood: Film rights reportedly sold to Brett Ratner.

Yasiel PuigThe story of Yasiel Puig‘s journey from Cuba to Los Angeles could be coming to the big screen.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film rights to a Los Angeles Magazine story about Puig have been sold to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner’s firm, RatPac. From THR.com:

Ratner will produce the big-screen take with Beau Flynn, who will produce via his FlynnPictureCo. banner.

Scott Sheldon, who just joined FPC as a creative executive, will oversee development with RatPac’s Agustine Calderon. A search for writers is underway.

Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford isn’t on the National League All-Star ballot.

Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford is batting .222/.231/.317 in 18 games this season. (Associated Press photo)

Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford has appeared in 18 games this season, more than all but six of his teammates. In 2009, he was the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star game.

This year, Crawford is not even on the ballot.

Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig are the three Dodgers outfielders represented on the ballot released this morning.

The rest of the Dodgers’ representatives followed a predictable order: Adrian Gonzalez (first base), Dee Gordon (second base), Hanley Ramirez (shortstop), Juan Uribe (third base) and A.J. Ellis (catcher).

The game will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis on July 15. Designated hitters are allowed for both leagues’ lineups at the All-Star game, and the Dodgers will have that luxury when they visit the Twins for an interleague series next week. There is a good chance that all four outfielders will be in the starting lineup then.

However, Crawford wasn’t on the list of eight names the Dodgers submitted to the league at the beginning of the season.

Voters are allowed to cast up to 25 ballots. Crawford can still be included on the ballot as a write-in candidate but his odds are especially slim. Crawford is batting .211 with a .231 on-base percentage, poor for any hitter — especially one who regularly bats first or second. He’s stolen four bases, but none since April 9.

All four outfielders are struggling at the plate by their own standards. Puig is hitting .254/.338/.437, Kemp .211/.297/.456 and Ethier .194/.247/.284.

Daily Distractions: MLB clarifies its ‘transfer rule,’ but 7.13 is still baffling to Dodgers catcher.

Major League Baseball gave its players roughly one month to adjust to a new, literal interpretation of its “transfer rule.” Catch the ball, transfer the ball from glove to hand, make sure each of these steps is deliberate enough to be discerned on video review, and you’re good. That sounds simple. In practice, the rule demanded that fielders break a lifetime’s worth of hard-worn habits. Hanley Ramirez got burned on the call once this season, when he lost his grip on the ball after recording what looked like a forceout at second base. The umpire on scene ruled Ramirez didn’t make a catch in the first place.

Friday morning, the league officially changed its mind.

Beginning tonight, MLB announced that umpires will enforce the transfer rule according to a new standard — that is, the old standard. According to a league release, a catch or valid forceout/tag has occurred:

…if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand. There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it to be ruled a catch. If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.

It was too late for Ramirez, but it was nice to see the league act quickly. That said, there’s still at least one rule that the Dodgers would like to see clarified. Ramirez was involved in this one, too.

From my game story last night, in case you missed it, here’s what happened:

With Hanley Ramirez on third base and (Adrian) Gonzalez on first, (Yasiel) Puig hit a ground ball to Phillies third baseman Cody Asche. Asche fielded the ball deep in the third-base hole and threw to home plate, where Ramirez was out by several feet.

Or was he?

Mattingly popped out of the third-base dugout, asking for help. He demonstrated to the home-plate umpire, Mike DiMuro, what he saw from Philadelphia’s Ruiz: A catcher with both feet planted in front of home plate as Ramirez was bearing down.

According to the rule, which was ratified by MLB and the Players’ Association in spring training, “Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.”

The problem for Mattingly was that Asche delivered a perfect strike to Ruiz in plenty of time to retire Ramirez. Hunter Wendelstedt initiated a crew chief’s review and baseball’s two new rules for 2014 suddenly collided, an instant replay being used to determine whether a catcher illegally blocked home plate.

Three minutes and 18 seconds later, the call stood. Ramirez was out.

Just before the next inning, I saw Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz in the dugout demonstrating how to block home plate to pitcher Josh Beckett. After the game, Federowicz was still upset and confused by the sequence of events.

“I honestly thought that call was going to be overturned,” he said. “The only thing in their favor is that (Ruiz) got that ball in plenty of time. He probably got it a good 10 feet before the play. That’s what the final decision was probably on. My whole thing is, why have the rule saying you can’t block the plate without the ball, and he blocks the plate without the ball?”

Here’s a still image, taken from the video of the play, that shows where Ruiz was stationed when he caught the ball (unfortunately I couldn’t grab an image just before Ruiz made the catch):

Hanley  Ramirez

Whether Ruiz is illegally blocking Ramirez’s path to home plate represents a judgment call, too. Could Ruiz be more out of the way of the baseline? Of course. But, as noted at the time, Asche made an accurate throw. If Ruiz plants his mitt in the baseline and his body in foul territory to receive the throw, and Ramirez (who left on contact) sprints home at full speed and slides inside the baseline, Ruiz is in jeopardy of not being able to make the tag.

Maybe Wendelstedt factored this into his judgment. Rule 7.13 goes on to state that “it shall not be considered a violation of this rule if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the Umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner.”

Watching the sequence in real time, Federowicz felt that Ruiz didn’t need to lay his right leg in the basepath in order to make the catch. Therefore, Ramirez should have been ruled safe.

“Hanley has nowhere to slide and he’s still out? I guess Hanley’s allowed to hit him in that situation,” Federowicz said. “But again, they scare all these runners from being able to do that. Nobody really knows the correct rule right now.”

Some bullet points for Arbor Day:
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Why is Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen pitching so much?

Kenley Jansen

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is on pace to appear in 110 games this season. (Getty Images)

In the eighth inning Wednesday with the Dodgers leading the Phillies 5-2, right-handers Kenley Jansen and Chris Perez were warming up in the bullpen.

The decision of who would pitch the ninth inning literally came down to the final moment. Had Adrian Gonzalez delivered an RBI in the final at-bat of the inning, Perez would have gotten the ninth. Instead, Gonzalez flied out to deep center field and Jansen got the ball. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his eighth save.

It was Jansen’s 15th appearance of the season, which leads the major leagues.
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