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)

Postgame: Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 2

The Dodgers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 tonight at Dodger Stadium. For a full recap and boxscore click here

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

* Jon Garland, making his first start with the Dodgers since being traded to L.A. from Arizona on Monda, allowed two runs in 7.0 innings, retiring the last 14 batters he faced…he is now 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA (6 ER/20.0 IP) in his last three starts.

* Casey Blake went 3-for-4 with a double, leaving him just five hits shy of 1,000 in his career (995).

* Manny Ramirez hit a lead-off home run in the fourth inning to ties the game 2-2, his 16th home run of the year.

* Ronnie Belliard went 2-for-3 with three RBI and is batting .333 (4-for-12) with one homer and four RBI in four games as a Dodger.

ETC…ETC:

* After sharing the NL’s top record with the Cardinals for one day, Los Angeles claimed back the Senior Circuit’s top spot and now leads Philadelphia and St. Louis by 1.0 game.

* Garland became the 12th different Dodgers starting pitcher, one more than last year’s total of 11 and one shy of the Los Angeles Dodgers record of 13 set in 1964… he became the first Dodger starter to earn a victory in the last seven games.

* Jonathan Broxton picked up his 31st save, which ranks 10th on the all-time Dodger single season saves list, trailing Todd Worrell’s 32 in 1995 by one for the ninth spot…Eric Gagne has the Dodger record with 77 saves in both 2002 and 2003.

ON DECK:

* The Dodgers open a three-game home series against the San Diego Padres Friday by sending LHP Clayton Kershaw (8-7, 2.94) against LHP Wade LeBlanc (0-1, 9.58).