Kuo back to the DL; Elbert called up

Ten days after being activated from the disabled list, Hong-Chih Kuo is headed back.

The Dodgers placed Kuo on the 15-day disabled list today but have yet to cite an injury. The left-handed reliever, who has had four elbow operations, was expected to be the team’s setup man this season but has struggled to stay healthy. Kuo was first sent to the DL on April 16 with a lower back strain.

The Associated Press is reporting from Pittsburgh that Manager Don Mattingly declined to discuss specifics of the injury but said it could be long-term. Kuo was expected
to return to Los Angeles late tonight.

On the season, Kuo has appeared in nine games and pitched 4 2/3 innings, surrendering five hits, six walks and six earned runs for a less-than-stellar 11.57 ERA and 2.36 WHIP.

In his place, the Dodgers have recalled Scott Elbert from Triple-A Albuquerque. The left-hander has struck out 16 against nine walks in 14 1/3 innings this season.

Elbow woes shelve Ethier, Broxton

Tom Hoffarth reports from Dodger Stadium that Andre Ethier has been scratched from the starting lineup today because of a sore left elbow. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the right fielder, who has an MLB-best 29-game hitting streak, is available to pinch hit, which could put his streak in jeopardy with just one at-bat.

“We’d have to. We’re here to win games even if that puts him in a bind,” Mattingly said.

Meanwhile, embattled reliever Jonathan Broxton will get an MRI on his right elbow after last night’s struggles in a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander issued consecutive four-pitch walks to Marlon Byrd and Carlos Pena before being removed by Mattingly. After the game, Broxton and Dodgers trainer Stan Conte told Mattingly about the pitcher’s elbow discomfort.

Broxton’s decrease in velocity has been noted this season. One year after notching the save in the All-Star Game, he is 1-2 with a 5.68 ERA in 14 appearances.

In Broxton’s absence, Vicente Padilla will continue to be the first option to close for the Dodgers.

Broxton out as closer

KABC Radio’s Joe Block is reporting via Twitter that Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti has told him that Jonathan Broxton has been removed as the team’s closer.

For now, it looks like it will be the always-adventurous closer-by-committee, with Colletti hinting that the leading candidates are right-hander Vicente Padilla and left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who has been on the disabled list with a back strain since April 16. Kuo is eligible to come off the DL on Friday.

Broxton’s decreased velocity has been an issue this season, as is his 1.85 WHIP in 10 1/3 innings. The big right-hander suffered his first blown save of the season last night, allowing a two-out walk and single before an infield error and misjudged fly ball turned a 4-3 Dodgers lead into a 5-4 loss.

MLB takes over Dodgers

Just days after Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt received a $30 million loan from Fox to cover payroll obligations, Major League Baseball announced today it is taking over the tyeam.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says in a release that he will appoint a representative to oversee the “business and the day-to-day operations of the Club.”
Selig’s statement:
“Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today that I will appoint a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the Club. I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the Club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball. My office will continue its thorough investigation into the operations and finances of the Dodgers and related entities during the period of Mr. McCourt’s ownership. I will announce the name of my representative in the next several days.
The Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, and we owe it to their legion of loyal fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future.”

Dodgers hire Soboroff as vice chairman

In light of recent news that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt had to borrow $30 million from Fox in order to meet payroll obligations, this is an interesting move. Steve Soboroff will spearhead efforts to improve the fan experience and strengthen ties to the community.

How much Soboroff is getting paid remains to be seen. There’s also this: Soboroff plans to meet with fans to listen to their ideas for improving the experience at Dodger Stadium. Hmmm … where to start?

Press release from the Dodgers:

LOS ANGELES – Civic and business leader Steve Soboroff is joining the Los Angeles Dodgers as vice chairman with responsibility for leading efforts to improve the fan experience at the stadium, strengthening ties to the region’s community and philanthropic organizations, and expanding conservation and sustainability programs at Dodger Stadium. He will report directly to Dodger Owner Frank McCourt.

Soboroff, who begins in the new role today, will coordinate the implementation of recommendations from former Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton’s team to enhance safety, security and the overall fan experience at Dodger Stadium. Soboroff will also step up efforts by the Dodger organization to expand the positive impacts of the Dodgers throughout Southern California.

“Steve understands this city as few others do, and his contributions have made Los Angeles a better place,” said McCourt. “Not only will he infuse great ideas and energy to the Dodger organization, but he will use his trademark ‘get-it-done’ approach to extend the Dodgers’ positive impact on Los Angeles. It starts with a quality fan experience in the stadium, and extends throughout the Southern California community.”

Soboroff is a former president of the City’s Recreation and Parks Commission, former CEO of the award-winning Playa Vista community, and currently board chairman of both the Weingart Foundation and the EXPO Center in Exposition Park. As senior advisor to former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, Soboroff played a lead role in putting together the Alameda Corridor project, and is widely regarded as the person who brought the Staples Center to Downtown Los Angeles.

“The fan experience starts with a safe, comfortable, family environment, and extends from there,” said Soboroff. “That’s the recipe for success in the city’s parks, at Playa Vista and in every neighborhood throughout Los Angeles. It is about having the right plan, and putting that plan into action. People throughout the city and country can expect their phone to ring from me, so be prepared to talk about innovative partnerships that help kids, advance sustainability, improve transportation to and from the ballpark, and create a second-to-none fan experience.”

Soboroff also plans to meet with fans and other Dodger stakeholders to hear their ideas for improving the Dodger experience. “You will see me in every section of the ballpark checking things out, listening to fans, and taking strong actions in a number of areas. And I’m in a hurry,” Soboroff said. “The Dodgers are one of the great professional sports franchises in the world, and an important civic institution in Southern California. Frank has empowered me to set a new standard when it comes to the fan experience and the Dodgers’ impact on the Los Angeles community.”

A lifelong Dodger fan, Soboroff lived in the San Fernando Valley as a teen. He and wife Patti raised their five children in Los Angeles.

Dodgers call up power-hitting prospect Jerry Sands

According to Ken Gurnick at MLB.com, outfield prospect Jerry Sands has been called up from Triple-A Albuquerque and Xavier Paul has been designated for assignment.

Sands, 23, is in the Dodgers’ starting lineup for tonight’s game against Atlanta, playing left field and batting seventh. He was hitting .400 (10 for 40) with five home runs and 17 RBIs at Albuquerque.

As the organization’s position player of the year last year, Sands hit 35 home runs between Class A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga.

Paul, 26, was hitting .273 (3 for 11) with no home runs or RBIs while trying to find playing time behind Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Marcus Thames and Tony Gwynn Jr.

Furcal on the DL; De Jesus called up

Another season, another trip to the disabled list for Rafael Furcal.
The Dodgers shortstop has been placed on the 15-day disabled list after breaking his left thumb while sliding headfirst into third base during a 6-1 win over the San Francisco Giants
on Monday night.
Furcal, 33, is expected to miss about four to six weeks.
The Dodgers recalled rookie infielder Ivan De Jesus, who started the season in Los Angeles but went went 0 for 7 with five strikeouts, from Triple-A Albuquerque. De Jesus was sent down last Tuesday when third baseman Casey Blake came off the disabled list.
Furcal, who was batting just .192 from the leadoff spot, is returning to Los Angeles to get examined by a hand specialist.
He missed about two months last season with injuries to his lower back and right thigh.
Furcal, who is making $12 million this season, is in the final year of a three-year, $30 million contract. The Dodgers hold a $12 million option for next season, but it becomes guaranteed if Furcal reaches 600 plate appearances.

Is Manny a Hall of Famer?

Does Manny Ramirez belong in Cooperstown?
Or is his legacy tainted by what appears to be two positive drug tests?
Some of Ramirez’ numbers to consider:

  • His .312 batting average is 87th all-time.

  • His .411 on-base percentage ranks him 32nd.
  • He finishes ninth with a .585 slugging percentage.
  • What’s more, his .996 career OPS ranks ninth all-time.
  • He’s 14th all-time with 555 homers, 18th with 1,831 RBIs.
  • His 21 grand slams puts him just two behind leader Lou Gehrig.
  • No one has hit more postseason homers than his 29 shots.

So what say you? Comment away …

Manny just being Manny

According to The Associated Press, Tampa Bay slugger Manny Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance for the second time and informed Major League Baseball on Friday that he is retiring rather than face a 100-game suspension.
A person familiar with the events that led to the announcement confirmed to The Associated Press that Ramirez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the nature of Ramirez’ issue with MLB’s drug policy was not publicly disclosed.
Less than two years ago, Ramirez served a 50-game suspension for violating the drug policy while with the Dodgers. At the time, Ramirez tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, a banned female fertility drug often used to mask steroid use.
Second-time violators get double that penalty, so Ramirez was probably looking at a 100-game sitdown.
“Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the commissioner’s office released in a statement. “Rather than continue with the process under the Program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed.”
MLB said it would have no further comment.
In 18-plus seasons, Ramirez was a .312 hitter with 555 home runs. Whether his recent troubles with positive drug tests will taint what was once an inevitable nomination to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown remains to be seen.

Dodgers’ 25-man roster set

The Dodgers have announced their Opening Day roster for the 2011 championship season. As far as injuries go, they placed catcher Dioner Navarro, third baseman Casey Bake and pitchers Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 22. Outfielder Jay Gibbons was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 26.

The Dodgers are carrying 11 position players — including three catchers — and 14 pitchers. A fifth starter won’t be needed until April 10, so look for a position player to probably get sent down by then.

As for today’s starting lineup against the World series champion San Francisco Giants, veteran Jamey Carroll will get the nod at second base after speculation all week that rookie Ivan De Jesus Jr. would start.

The 25-man roster, as broken down by position:

Pitchers (11):
Chad Billingsley
Jonathan Broxton
Lance Cormier
Matt Guerrier
Blake Hawksworth
Kenley Jansen
Clayton Kershaw (L)
Hong-Chih Kuo (L)
Hiroki Kuroda
Ted Lilly (L)
Mike MacDougal

Catchers (3):
Rod Barajas
A.J. Ellis
Hector Gimenez (S)

Infielders (6):
Jamey Carroll
Ivan De Jesus
Rafael Furcal (S)
Aaron Miles (S)
James Loney (L)
Juan Uribe

Outfielders (5):
Andre Ethier (L)
Tony Gwynn, Jr. (L)
Matt Kemp
Xavier Paul (L)
Marcus Thames