GLENDALE, Ariz. — Josh Beckett had a bad day.
Joc Pederson had a long day.
Neither was alone.
That’s simply a function of where the numbers are right now; the Dodgers began camp with five healthy starters on guaranteed major-league contracts before bringing in Maholm and Rosin. Zack Greinke‘s mild calf injury aside, that hasn’t changed.
The 31-year-old Maholm has been a starter for his entire career, and he started Saturday. He threw more than 50 pitches — 41 in the first three innings of the Dodgers’ 5-5 against the Texas Rangers and another “12 or so” in the bullpen.
“I’m preparing for the season like I have for, I think this is my 11th spring,” Maholm said. “I’m going to try and get quick outs. The stuff with mechanics is stuff that you deal with during the season. I’m going to prepare and pitch whenever they tell me to. If I pitch well everything’s going to work out. I’m not concerned with roles or anything. You pitch well, they find a spot for you.”
Rosin is on a starter’s program too. The 25-year-old right-hander threw three innings (4, 5 and 6) while allowing only one unearned run before an announced crowd of 8,153 at Surprise Stadium. His third Cactus League appearance was easily his worst so far. He struggled with command, walking a batter and throwing a wild pitch, and also balked runners to second and third base in the fifth inning.
But he left the game with the Dodgers ahead 3-2. Rosin still hasn’t allowed an earned run in eight spring innings. He’s struck out 10 batters in eight innings and allowed only five hits.
“These guys are both being built as starters and right now that’s where we’re at,” Mattingly said, after declining to comment on the possibility that either would begin the season in the bullpen.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Dodgers chairman Mark Walter, president Stan Kasten, chief marketing officer Lon Rosen, manager Don Mattingly, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, and other coaches and team officials in attendance, a simulated game took place on a back field at Camelback Ranch this morning.
Unlike the two other games featuring uniformed Dodgers players today, this one didn’t count for anything. It did, however, feature Zack Greinke pitching to Matt Kemp. Kemp is in the late stages of his ankle rehabilitation — stage 6 of 7, specifically — and Greinke was facing live hitters for the first time since straining his right calf Feb. 27.
Greinke said he threw 35 pitches in the simulated game, about half to Kemp and the other half to Scott Schebler. He threw another 50 in the bullpen.
“I’m feeling healthy,” Greinke said. “I wanted to see some hitters, try to throw several different pitches. They all kind of came out pretty good. Not midseason form or anything but pretty good.”
Despite repeated prodding, Greinke wouldn’t say when or where his next outing will come. Based on his own assessment, another simulated game or a minor-league game might be in order, since Greinke’s health and repertoire are still works in progress.
Greinke got Kemp to swing and miss at a big curveball, “but he was hitting the fastball good.” The final pitch of both of Kemp’s at-bats Greinke are above.
In a couple days, Greinke thinks his calf will be healed; for now fielding ground balls off the mound remains an issue.
“I can field,” he said. “If Dee Gordon hit a ground ball to first, I wouldn’t be able to beat him to first. Right now I wouldn’t be able to get there in time. But if A.J. Ellis did I still might not, but I’d probably be able to get there in time.”
As for Kemp, he ran the bases under the watch of Dodgers head athletic trainer Stan Conte. Later, he practiced tracking fly balls in center field at less than full speed.
Paul Maholm is starting the Dodgers’ noon (PST) game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium, and Josh Beckett is starting the 6 p.m. home game against the Seattle Mariners. The latter will be televised on MLB Network for all you non-Time Warner subscribers.
Mattingly clarified one thing about Yasiel Puig‘s excused absence today: The Dodgers have known that Puig would be gone today, and returning Sunday, since the beginning of camp. Whatever his “personal issue” is — Mattingly wouldn’t say — it is not a last-minute emergency. It’s believed that Puig is not in the Phoenix area.
The Dodgers’ next two games at Camelback Ranch — tonight and tomorrow — are sold out.
Here are the lineups for both teams, both games:
The 22-year-old pitcher only reached Double-A last year, three years after the Dodgers selected him with the 28th overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft. Only a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle suffered early in camp forced Lee to temper his expectations.
By waiting until Friday to make his Cactus League debut, Lee knows he’s ticketed to the minors to start the season.
“Anytime you set a goal you want to set it high,” he said. “If you set it too low, you’ll probably meet it and get content with it.”
Lee pitched two scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday at Camelback Ranch. He allowed only two hits, walked none and had something to be proud of at the end of his long-awaited debut.
The right-hander from McKinney, Texas survived a loud leadoff double to Shin-Soo Choo — “a 2-1 fastball right down the middle that you don’t want to throw,” he said — to survive a 21-pitch first inning on consecutive ground-ball outs by Elvin Andrus, Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre.
After a smooth second inning in which he allowed a single to Jurickson Profar, Lee’s day was over. He faced eight hitters, almost all major leaguers, and did not look out of place on the mound.
“He just looks like he belongs around the clubhouse, around the fields. He does everything well,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s got a clean delivery. We feel like he’s going to be able to throw the ball where he wants. Just like in his composure — pretty much everything about him.”
Lee has a preternatural calm in the presence of almost anyone — reporter, major leaguer, minor leaguer. He said he’s tried to stay in the background like most rookies, while also trying to pick the veterans’ brains.
“I’ve talked a lot with (Josh) Beckett and (Zack) Greinke,” he said. “Probably Greinke a little more than Beckett from a baseball standpoint just because me and his game are kind of similar as far as our repertoire goes, how we pitch. It’s always good to get an outside perspective, especially with a guy who’s had the success he’s had and kind of the similar stuff we have and how we approach the game.”
Both pitchers share an analytical approach to baseball, something that impressed Dodgers management about Lee since his first days in the organization. Lee’s numbers in his second season at Double-A Chattanooga were better in almost every category in 2013, when he was named the organization’s pitcher of the year.
Lee took part in the Dodgers’ prospect camp at Dodger Stadium in January. Finally on Friday, he had a chance to show everyone what he’s gained since last season.
“Growing up, the way I looked at pitching, I was more of a cerebral, analytical person,” he said. “I really thought more kind of gameplanning and what (Greg) Maddux did back in the day, where he was able to pinpoint location rather than overpowering people. I kind of took after them and that’s where my game’s developed.”
Young power pitchers are often the first to reach the majors. The St. Louis Cardinals’ Shelby Miller, a 2012 draft pick who beat the Dodgers twice in last year’s National League Championship Series, is a protypical example.
Pitchers like Lee, who mix and match an assortment of pitches and rely more on location and guile, often take longer. This season marks his fourth in the organization and only his first major-league camp.
Lee said he threw all his pitches Friday and “some worked better than others.” For Mattingly, the first impression was a good one.
“I think that’s what you like about him: You see him around the clubhouse, the way he handles himself, gets after his work, does everything pretty well, takes fielding his position seriously, holding runners — all the things you don’t get a lot of attention for — but we like everything about him.”
Some more notes and observations:
The Dodgers have a chance to achieve a rare feat by hitting a grand slam in their third straight game today when the Texas Rangers visit Camelback Ranch.
Alex Guerrero hit one against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night. Scott Van Slyke hit a grand slam in Thursday’s 4-4 tie against the Angels.
Starter Zach Lee will be limited to about 30 pitches, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. Hopefully that gets him through at least one inning. If not, at least the Dodgers have plenty of reinforcements lined up in the bullpen.
Brian Wilson, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Chris Perez and Brandon League are all scheduled to throw. Tom Windle, the Dodgers’ second-round pick in the 2013 draft, is also in uniform along with fellow minor-league call-up Fu-Te Ni.
Windle (like 2013 first-round pick Chris Anderson yesterday) will be facing live opponents for the first time. The Dodgers minor-leaguers had an exhibition game against France. Otherwise, they have only seen live batters in batting practice and intrasquad contests.
Before the game, Mattingly said that Zack Greinke is scheduled to face live hitters tomorrow, likely on a minor-league field.
Chone Figgins will play right field, his seventh position of the Cactus League season.
We’ll be keeping an eye out for highly touted Rangers prospect Rougned Odor. He’s in uniform for the game (#73).
Here are the lineups for both teams:
Conte had been discussing Jobe’s impact on the profession Friday when he stopped to make a separate point.
“His World War II accolades are unbelievable,” Conte said, mentioning Jobe’s role in the Siege of Bastogne.
“Bastogne?” I asked, trying out a French word that I didn’t know how to spell because, well, it’s French. Conte said something about “kids these days” not knowing their history. Everyone had a good chuckle.
Here’s something you may or may not know about Dr. Frank Jobe and the Siege of Bastogne.
Jobe was 18 years old in the winter of 1944, a private sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division of the Army, Medical Company 326. He arrived in Europe just before the invasion of Normandy (June 6, 1944). Under the command of Maj. General Maxwell D. Taylor, the unit received telephone orders on Dec. 18 that it was to move north from its station at Camp Mourmelon in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. Bastogne was 100 miles away to the northeast. A total of 380 trucks were needed to move Jobe — and roughly 11,000 other men — that night.
The Allied stronghold contained a key network of roads that Adolf Hitler knew would be needed to advance his cause westward. According to authors Leo Barron and Don Cygan in their book No Silent Night: The Christmas Battle For Bastogne, Hitler planned a mission that was “more a punishment for the people of Bastogne. … Civilian targets would be hit indiscriminately and numerous Bastogne citizens would be killed on this Christmas Eve, buried in the rubble of their homes and shops. Collateral damage was not Hitler’s concern, but to him it was a fitting by-product for their support for the Allies.”
A total of 29 officers and 312 enlisted men in the 101st division perished in the attack. Another 103 officers and 1,588 enlisted men were wounded. Owing to the capture of a hospital, the 326th Medical Company recorded the largest number of missing troops of any unit at Bastogne, with 125.
Jobe’s role, according to Doug Miller of MLB.com:
Jobe assisted the doctors. Set back a ways from the front lines, with the sound of shells zipping by, they’d set up light sources and generators if they had to. That’s where they did the amputations. He saw blood, and it was just that. Blood. It was red. You needed it. He didn’t panic. He didn’t see any reason to. That’s just the way it was.
Bolstered by troops under the command of Gen. George Patton, the Allies ended the siege on Dec. 26. The Germans ultimately were forced to withdraw from the Ardennes region on January 7, 1945.
“That’s the reason you’re speaking English and not German,” Conte quipped.
When the larger Battle of the Bulge finally ended on Jan. 25, it was the costliest fight in Army history in terms of casualties.
I’ll have more from Dodgers camp later about Jobe, who died yesterday at age 88. Here’s a great read from Joe Posnanski about one of Jobe’s early non-Dodgers patients. Rob Neyer, writing for FoxSports.com, advocates for Jobe’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
So did many folks in Dodgers camp today. There will be a moment of silence in his honor prior to the Dodgers’ Cactus League game against the Texas Rangers.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Scott Van Slyke’s grand slam in the sixth inning and an exciting play at home plate in the first highlighted the Dodgers’ 4-4 tie with the Angels before 6,457 at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The 10-inning game is the second tie this week for the Dodgers (3-4-2).
The umpiring crew used instant replay to determine that Mike Trout was indeed thrown out at home plate attempting to complete an inside-the-park home run. Angels manager Mike Scioscia had a lengthy discussion with the umpires on the field before initiating the challenge. A 72-second review confirmed the call.
With one out in the first, Trout hit a long, sinking line drive just left of center field. Yasiel Puig dove at the last second but missed. The ball rolled past Puig and all the way to the warning track, where Puig got to the ball ahead of left fielder Scott Van Slyke. His relay throw to shortstop Hanley Ramirez on the short outfield grass was perfect, and Ramirez made an accurate throw to Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis just in time to retire the speedy Trout.
The only question seemed to be whether Ellis got his glove on Trout or not, but that wasn’t the only question circulating through the Dodgers’ dugout.
TEMPE, Ariz. — The Dodgers and the Angels will have instant replay at their disposal for their first head-to-head Cactus League game of 2014. Managers Don Mattingly and Mike Scioscia are able to challenge one umpire’s call during the first six innings. In innings 7, 8 and 9 the umpires can initiate a challenge.
The camera angles at Tempe Diablo Stadium aren’t what they will be during the Freeway Series, when replay will be in use for the first time. But Prime Ticket is televising the game, so at least the teams won’t be at the mercy of an in-house video feed.
It’s the first replay game for the Dodgers and the fourth for the Angels. Scioscia has already thrown one challenge and lost; I asked him this morning if he’ll challenge for the sake of challenging — practice for the manager, practice for the umpire, practice for Nick Francona.
“You have to practice the logistics that’s for sure, but I don’t want to make a mockery of it,” he said. “If there’s a play that makes sense — I know the umpires are looking forward to the challenge, just so they can get their end of it worked out too.”
Here are the lineups for both teams:
Meanwhile, Ned Colletti ought to be working the phones, because no respectable team with a payroll in the neighborhood of $240 million ought to be entertaining notions of a platoon involving Gordon/Figgins/Turner/Harris/Rojas at second base. Jim Bowden of ESPN.com recently explored the trade possibilities. (A couple of those scenarios actually make quite a bit of sense.)
With one swing of the bat Wednesday, Guerrero changed the narrative.
His grand slam in the Dodgers’ 10-3 Cactus League victory over the Cincinnati Reds was the first extra-base hit for Guerrero in his seventh Cactus League game. That it came off a left-hander, veteran Jeff Francis, is significant. Gordon has a career .221/.267/.232 slash line against left-handed pitching, compared to .271/.316/.348 against right-handers. (Andre Ethier, by comparison: .235/.294/.351 against lefties.) The Dodgers will take that right-handed slash line from Gordon, maybe with a few walks thrown in for good measure.
The more significant development is that Guerrero, in the words of Don Mattingly, looked “more comfortable.”
“I thought in general, he just looks more fluid and smoothing out a little bit,” the manager said. “For me, early on it was really rough and stiff. It’s gotten better. With Alex, we’re just going to try to keep playing him as much as we can. We’re going to try to keep getting him at-bats.”
Is that progression typical for a player in his first spring training?
“I think it’s typical for a guy who hasn’t played in a while,” Mattingly said. “BP’s a whole lot different from games. As you get in playing every day, I think things just come back to you — more natural. As you get a little tired, you’ve been doing your work and you want things to just come out naturally. That’s what I’m looking for, to see what it’s going to look like when he gets tired taking his ground balls every day.”
If the grand slam was no fluke, and Guerrero has really settled in to the comfort level that earned him a four-year, $28 million contract, it carries an important implication. Namely, that he can be ready for the majors by Opening Day.
That doesn’t bode well for Figgins, Turner, Harris or Rojas. The sample sizes are still small and skewed, but for what it’s worth Rojas — statistically a poor Triple-A hitter in his career — has the best spring batting average of all of them at .417. None of their numbers will matter if Guerrero remains comfortable in the field and at the plate.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Alex Guerrero’s fifth-inning grand slam gave the Dodgers the lead for good in their 10-3 win Wednesday night over the Cincinnati Reds.
Guerrero, who was 4 for 15 with four singles to begin his first major-league spring training, hit the first pitch he saw from Jeff Francis high over the left-field fence to give the Dodgers their first runs of the game.
Adrian Gonzalez also homered as the Dodgers improved to 3-4-1.
Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched four innings and allowed single runs in the first and second innings, both earned. He allowed four hits, all singles, walked two and struck out three. The left-hander said after the game that he did not throw a slider until the third inning — then used it effectively. He struck out the side in the third, including Reds slugger Joey Votto on a slider.
Ryu was originally scheduled to pitch three innings, but Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt gave him the option of pitching the fourth and coming out after 10 pitches. He got three outs — a walk, a double-play ground ball, and another groundout — before reaching his 10-pitch limit.
Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig left the game after four innings after experiencing symptoms of inflammation in his upper left back/shoulder area. He was seen grimacing at home plate during his second at-bat of the game, in the top of the fourth inning, against Francis. Puig played the bottom of the fourth inning without making a play in the field, did not bat in the top of the fifth inning, and was replaced by Mike Baxter in the bottom of the fifth. He was the first Dodgers position player to leave the game.
Puig told reporters after the game that he would be able to play tomorrow.
9:25 p.m. update: Here’s what Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said about Puig after the game:
Puig said this via the club’s official Twitter feed:
"The medical staff says I'm fine. I have a little bit of inflammation, but I will be playing tomorrow. I have to keep playing." -@YasielPuig
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 6, 2014
Reds starter Homer Bailey no-hit the Dodgers through three innings. Francis pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning before allowing singles to Gonzalez and Juan Uribe — a blooper that fell between three fielders in right-center — and walking Joc Pederson. Guerrero then cleared the bases with his home run.
Tim Federowicz padded the Dodgers’ lead with a two-run double in the sixth inning and scored on an RBI single by Miguel Rojas. Minor-league call-up Aaron Bates hit an RBI double in the seventh inning. Uribe’s sacrifice fly allowed Baxter to tag up and score the Dodgers’ final run.
Jose Dominguez and Paco Rodriguez pitched scoreless relief innings. Matt Magill pitched a scoreless seventh inning and allowed a solo home run to Neftali Soto in the eighth.