DODGERS MATT KEMP CLEARS ANOTHER HURDLE

Matt Kemp got good news today when results of his recent MRI on his left ankle prompted the Dodgers medical staff to clear him for increased activities.

Here is what Kemp had to say about the latest development this morning from the Dodgers spring training facility in Glendale, Arizona:

“I’m getting close to where I need to be. I’ll continue to hit and do all those things to be ready. When it’s time I’ll be ready to run and I’ll already be in game mode, hitting-wise.

“I’m just glad that I’m not having any setbacks or the MRI isn’t showing any negative things. It’s showing signs of improvement and where the doctor did the microfracture is healing really well. Everything is going as planned. You’ve got to take your time and make sure everything is okay, so when I do come back I won’t have any more setbacks.

(Kemp is at step 5 of what is expected to be a 7-step process)

“Coming into it we said there would be seven phases of where I need to be. … I’ve got two more phases and then I’ll be able to get out there and play with my team again, so I’m excited about that.

(what are final 2 steps?)

“You’re guess is better than mine. Honestly it’s a feeling thing. Not anybody can tell me how I feel but I can tell them how I feel. I have to be right with myself and make sure I’m able to do a first-to-third or be able to score on a base hit from second base. I don’t wan’t to have any negative thoughts in my head. I want to be able to go out there and play aggressive and steal bases when I can, and do some of those athletic things that everybody is used to me doing.

(Considering the good news is it tough to be patient?)

“You don’t want to get ahead of yourself. Sometimes you get too happy and you want to try to do more. I just want to have faith in the program, and do everything they ask me to do and not anything extra. Of course I would love to work out extra and run extra, but that’s not in the plans. Every day I come in the morning they have a plan for me, and whatever it is they want me to do I’ll do it. I just have to be patient. I’ve got to be able to have faith in my leg.”

(On being able to jog on Friday)

“I never thought running would be so fun. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do running without being 80% body weight. Today was pretty good.

“There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. God puts me in position where I’m at for a reason. I’m happy where I’m at. I know this year is going to be a good year, I can feel it. I see good things for the Dodgers, and I hope and pray there is a healthy Matt out there in 2014.

Dodgers clinch, then rest. Ethier takes BP, but doesn’t play

SAN DIEGO – Andre Ethier took batting practice before Friday’s game, but his injured left ankle kept him on the bench for the seventh straight game.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly hopes to get Ethier some playing time over the final nine regular season games, but he will be prudent in doing so.

“I’d like to see Andre get at-bats again,” Mattingly said. “But not at the price of not being able to run all of a sudden.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the Dodgers regulars sat out Friday’s game against the Padres a day after they clinched the National League West Division.

Expect much of the same over the the final week of the regular season as Mattingly will get Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and others as much rest as possible leading up to the first round of the playoffs.

Even if it comes at the expense of home-field advantage in the National League playoffs.

“We feel like we can win anywhere. We feel like we can win on the road, but we want to be healthy,” Mattingly said. “But I would also like to be at home. I’d much rather be at home and have home-field advantage. But do I want home-field advantage and not have Hanley or Adrian and Hanley in the lineup? No. The priority is I want to try to get these guys as healthy as they can and keep them sharp. If they can play and it’s no risk and that’s the best thing, we’re going to play. We’re going to be more safe than sorry.”

Matt Kemp, though, could see ample time provided his hamstring holds up.

“We’d like to see Matt play most of these games, but not at the risk if his hammy is tight,” Mattingly said. “Matt is in a position that I’d like to see him play more to get more confident in his leg and ankle and get more at-bats.”

Dodgers Don Mattingly frustrated by short-handed roster

By Vincent Bonsignore
vincent.bonsignore@dailynews.com
twitter.com/@DailyNewsVinny

With the Dodgers dealing with injuries all year, and in some cases trying to nurse some along trying to avoid disabled list stints, manager Don Mattingly has had to work with a short-handed roster more times than he cares to remember.

And he’s calling for it to end.

With Hanley Ramirez unable to start for the fourth straight game Sunday with tightness in his left hamstring and Andre Ethier unavailable with a sore right arch, the Dodgers bench consisted of just two position players and a back-up catcher against the Atlanta Braves.

And that is far too thin for Mattingly’s taste.

“We can’t continue to play short. I played with two extras today and a backup catcher,” Mattingly said after the Dodgers fell to the Braves 8-1. “I didn’t have Andre, I didn’t have Hanley. You can’t play the National League game like that. You can get away with it in the American League but we can’t continue to do this.”

Mattingly understands players want to play – and avoid the D.L. at all costs. If that means sitting for a day or two in order to escape the required 15 days on the injured list, so be it.

But when a day or two turns into four, as is the case with Ramirez, it leaves Mattingly in a vulnerable position.

One he does not appreciate being in as he tries to pull the Dodgers out of last place.

Bottom line, he wants a full roster to work with.

“If you can’t play, for me you, have to go on the D.L.,” Mattingly said. “You can’t be trying to hang on and get a guy an extra three days. You play short in this league you’re just giving games away. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

Ramirez underwent an MRI on the hamstring Sunday, the results of which will determine whether he remains on the active roster.

And while Mattingly appreciates players wanting to play, he also needs a full roster to work with.

“If you can’t play you just can’t play.” Mattingly said.

Like Magic: Dodgers clubhouse comes alive by Magic Johnson’s visit

By Vincent Bonsignore

By most accounts Friday was just another day in spring training, and with the Dodgers stay in Arizona winding down next week the general feeling is guys can’t wait to pack their bags and head home.

Which made Magic Johnson’s appearance at Camelback Ranch so timely, the jolt of energy the Dodgers minority owner provided immediately evident the moment he stepped foot in the clubhouse and made his way from locker to locker visiting with each player.

“He just brings life and energy to the clubhouse,” Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said.”He cares about how we do, and he had a lot of success in his career and he’s just trying to pass some of that information onto us. It was cool.”

Afterward Johnson conducted a Q&A with players during a team meeting that touched on everything from leadership to expectations to increased focus playing on the road.

“We got to ask a lot of questions, it was good,” Kershaw said.

The sessions was as informative for Johnson as the players, he said, and he came away confident a team leader will emerge this year from a group of six or seven candidates – including A.J. and Mark Ellis.

“I call them the Ellis brothers – and I just talked to them too about this same thing. The intensity they bring every night, they’re leaders,” Johnson said “That becomes infectious to the other guys.”

He left an impression on A.J. Ellis.

“Those are conversations that last a lifetime.” Ellis said.

Johnson also believes leadership comes in different forms, and that a low-key player like Adrian Gonzalez can lead just as effectively as a vocal player like Matt Kemp.

“Adrian can lead as a quiet guy; we don’t want anyone to change. Be who you are,” Johnson said. “We want Matt to bet that rah-rah guy, we need guys who will pick people up. Everybody has a role.”

Kemp, incidentally, challenged Johnson to a one-on-one basketball game. Magic promised him a game after the Dodgers win the World Series.

“Whenever that happens, he can have a piece of me,” Magic said.

@DailyNewsVinny

Magic Johnson: No discussions about NFL Stadium at Chavez Ravine

By Vincent Bonsignore

While admitting it was a compliment to hear NFL commissioner Roger Goodell say kind things about Chavez Ravine as a potential site for a new football stadium, Dodgers minority owner Magic Johnson said nothing is happening on that front.

“Have we explored that? No.” Johnson said Friday on a Spring Training stopover in Arizona to visit the Dodgers.

And Johnson doesn’t expect anything to happen until the NFL makes a decision on the Anschutz Entertainment Group’s downtown Farmers Field project, which is cleared for construction pending a team moving there.

AEG head Phil Anschutz recently pulled his company off the sale market and has promised a re-energized effort to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles. Until that quest sorts itself out, Dodger Stadium is not a focus.

“I think the first thing (the NFL) wants to see is what’s going to happen with the downtown site,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the football fan in Johnson is eager for the return of the NFL to Los Angeles, having been a fan of both the Rams and Raiders during his Lakers playing days.

“All I want is football back in L.A., how about that?” Johnson said.

And it sounds like he’s rooting for Farmers Field – although the situation changes if AEG and the NFL can’t come to an agreement.

“If (you’re asking) if we want football back in L.A., we hope it’s downtown,” Johnson said. “But if they ever approach us, I’m sure that (Dodger ownership) will deal with it at that time.”

 

Dodgers: Did a door open for Dee Gordon at shortstop?

By Vincent Bonsignore

GLENDALE, Arizona – The dominos are beginning to fall in the Dodgers infield now that shortstop Hanley Ramirez will be sidelined at least two months with a thumb injury.

Initially it appeared a window opened for Dee Gordon to sneak back into the picture as the regular shortstop, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly’s first inclination is to slide Luis Cruz from third base to short instead.

When asked Friday if he was disappointed to hear that, Gordon just shrugged it off.

“That ain’t got nothing to do with me, that’s him,” Gordon said. “He’s the manager, I’m just here to play. Whatever he tells me to do I do. If he doesn’t tell me to go out there I don’t. If he tells me I’m part of the nine I’ll go out there and do my thing.”

Cruz, meanwhile, is open to a move back to his natural position after playing third the last two years.

“I just want to be a part of the team and to help the team,” Cruz said.

With 10 days remaining in spring training, though, things can change. And for Gordon that means there is still time to play his way into an every day job – although he steered clear of saying Ramirez’s injury opened a door for him.

“Like I’ve been telling you guys all spring, I’ve just been playing,” Gordon said. “I can’t go off what happened to Hanley, I’m just trying to make the team on my own. I’m just here to play, whatever they need me to do.”

Twitter: @DailyNewsVinny

 

Postgame: Dodgers 5, Pirates 4

The Dodgers beat the Pirates 5-4 in 13 innings tonight at Dodger Stadium. For a full box and recap click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

* Once again, Andre Ethier was the hero, hitting a dramatic, game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the 13th to win it or the Dodgers. Ethier now has a major-league leading six walk-off hits and four walk-off homers this season…Ethier also leads the majors with nine walk-off hits since the start of the 2008 season…It was the Dodgers’ 12th walk-off win of the season.

* Ethier became the first Dodger with a 30-homer season since Adrian Beltre slugged 48 in 2004. And for good measure, with his ninth-inning double, Ethier became the first Dodger to hit 40 doubles in a season since Shawn Green’s 49 in 2003…His 40 doubles tie for sixth with Raul Mondesi (1996) and Eric Karros (1999) on the Dodgers single season doubles list.

* Jonathan Broxton has not allowed an earned run since August 15, going a perfect nine-for-nine in save opportunities and striking out 28 in 17.0 innings over 16 appearances in that span.

ETC…ETC:

* The Dodgers lead the Rockies by 5.0 games in the NL West and the Cardinals by 2.0 games for the Senior Circuit’s top record…Los Angeles’ magic number to clinch a postseason berth is 10, meaning any combination of Dodgers wins and Giants losses totaling 10 would send the club to the playoffs for the third time in four years.

* The Dodgers are a season-high 28 games above the .500 mark.

* The Dodgers improved to 27-19 in one-run games, 20-7 at home…Los Angeles in 6-4 in its last 10 one-run contests.

ON DECK:

* In the finale of the three-game series today 1t 12:30 p.m., the Dodgers send RHP Hiroki Kuroda (6-6, 4.00) against RHP Kevin Hart (1-5, 6.46)

Postgame: Diamondbacks 4. Dodgers 3

The Dodgers fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 tonight in Arizona. For a full box click here.

* Arizona rallied for the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, taking advantage of a throwing error by Dodgers reliever Ramon Troncoso that allowed Gerardo Parra to reach second base to begin the inning. Parra moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, and Troncoso put the next two runners on with intentional walks, setting up a match-up against Mark Reynolds with the bases loaded. Reynolds worked the count to 3-2, fouled off a couple of pitches, then drew a game-winning walk.

* The Dodgers lead in the National League West is down to 2 1/2 games over Colorado, which rallied for two runs in the ninth inning to beat the Reds.

* Manny Ramirez had two hits – including his 18th home run of the year – and an RBI.

* Jon Garland gave up three runs over six pretty solid innings.

On Deck:

The Dodgers open a three-game series in San Francisco beginning Friday.

Injury: Wolf to miss next start

Ken Gurnick at MLB.com reports that Randy Wolf will miss his next start due to stiffness in the back of his left elbow. .According to Gurnick But Wolf was getting a bullpen session in before Tuesday night’s game in Arizona when he felt stiffness and tried to compensate by changing his mechanics, at which point the decision was made to send him to Los Angeles for an exam.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache administered a cortisone injection Wednesday to calm “irritation,” according to trainer Stan Conte. The discomfort is not in the area of the Tommy John operation Wolf underwent in 2005.

Postgame: Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4

The Dodgers came back in dramatic fashion to defeat the Diamondbacks 5-4 tonight in Arizona. For a full box and recap..

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

* In a must-have win with the Rockies breathing down their necks, the Dodgers cameback from a 4-1 deficit with four runs in the eighth inning to defeat the Diamondback.

* James Loney tied the game 4-4 with a single, and Ronnie Belliard followed with a 50-foot infield single to drive in the winning run.

* Jonathan Broxton pitched the ninth for his 34th save.

* Loney, Orlando Hudson and Adre Ethier each had two hits. Ethier drove in a pair of runs.

* With the win, the Dodgers maintained their 3 1/2 game lead over Colorado.

ON DECK:

* In the final game of the three-game series the Dodgers send RHP Jon Garland (9-11) against RHP Dan Haren (13-8)