Mattingly can relate to Gonzalez home run streak

Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez took a 3-game home run streak into Friday’s game against the Diamondbacks – five if you count the last two games of last season.

Mattingly can relate, having gone a Major League tying eight-straight games hitting a home run in 1987.

“It’s pretty good. It wasn’t bad,” Mattingly said, recollecting his hot streak. “Didn’t hate it.”
What he remembers most was how bad he was swinging the bat just before getting hot.

“I was really struggling before that started,” Mattingly said. “They brought (Bobby) Murcer in just to talk about things. He just said, ‘hey just try this little simple thing.

“He wanted me to just sit, stay there. Simplify everything.”

And away he went.

“You’re just riding it. You’re feeling really good at the plate,” Mattingly said “You’re not worried about homers. You’re just feeling good at the plate. You just want to keep hitting the ball hard.”

Incidentally, Mattingly cleared up what Gonzalez said about not being a power hitter.
“I think he said he’s not a home run hitter. I think he’s all Adrian’s saying he’s not up there trying to hit home runs, he’s basically just trying to get good pitches to hit and hit the ball hard. He’s a good hitter, period. He uses the whole field. He’s just a good hitter.”

And he can relate.

“I never looked at myself as a home run hitter,” Mattingly said. “I know I hit some home runs but they come out of your swing. They come out of making good contact, getting the right pitch. You can’t really…it’s hard to try to do that.”

Mattingly thinks Gonzalez is a better hitter.

“He’s different than me. He’s better than me,” Mattingly said. “He’s gonna be better, longer. He’s smarter. He doesn’t overwork. He takes care of himself. He’s good.”

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Webb not expected to join Dodgers in Arizona

The Dodgers don’t expect new relief pitcher Ryan Webb to join them before concluding their weekend series in Arizona against the Diamondbacks.

The veteran right-hander was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday along with minor-league catcher Brian Ward in exchange for for minor leaguers Ben Rowen – who went to Palos Verdes High and Charlie O’Brien.

Webb has 72 hours to report from the time the trade was consummated. But Mattingly was told not to expect him by Sunday.

“I’m not sure. Just talking to (general manager) Andrew (Friedman) and those guys just don’t expect him here,” Mattingly said. {I don’t know all the particulars, I’ve just (been told) don’t expect him here.”

Mattingly, in fact, wasn’t exactly sure whether Webb would join the Dodgers or report to Triple-A. As far as what the Dodgers are getting in the relief pitcher, Mattingly has limited up-close evidence.

“The only thing I can tell you about him is just seeing him from when he was in San Diego and a little bit in Miami. A big guy with heavy sink,” Mattingly said. “But I haven’t seen him in a few years.”


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Grandal back behind the plate for Dodgers; Ellis will catch Kershaw Saturday

PHOENIX – Yasmany Grandal was back behind the plate for the Dodgers Friday to open a 3-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

That’s the third straight game Grandal was in the starting lineup. He’s now started three games to the one made by last year’s starter, A.J Ellis.

Is a pattern developing?

“Not necessarily,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “It’ll play out. There’s gonna be spots where A.J. is gonna be catching.”

Like, perhaps, Saturday against the Diamondbacks?

“Yup,” Mattingly confirmed.

Not surprisingly, Clayton Kershaw is the scheduled starter Saturday.

Ellis, it should be noted, was behind the plate on Opening Day when Kershaw took the mound against the San Diego Padres.

The coincidence is impossible to ignore.

It’s looking more and more like Ellis is Kershaw’s unofficial-official personal catcher

Mattingly didn’t exactly shoot down the notion.

“If a pitcher has a preference and it works out, and everything’s working out the right way, we’ll always try to take that into consideration,” Mattingly said “It’s just not going to work out all the time.”


But two up, two down so far with Kershaw and Ellis.

As for Grandal, he arrived in Los Angeles from the San Diego Padres in the Matt Kemp trade with a strong reputation for framing pitches but an equally disconcerting reputation for falling out of favor with the Padres pitching staff.

On one hand, Zack Greinke said “couldn’t draw up a better catcher” after working with Grandal on Tuesday.

On the other, it got so bad for Grandal in San Diego last year he wasn’t behind the plate when  Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy pitched.

Mattingly heard all the talk – the good and the bad.

But once Grandal reported to spring training, it was a blank canvas as far as Mattingly was concerned.

“It’s like anything else, you get guys from other organizations and I think the main thing for me is, this is a new start, a clean slate,” Mattingly said. “Let’s just judge what we see, have an open mind and see what we get.”

So far so good, obviously.

“It’s been really good. I’m happy with both guys,” Mattingly said. “As much as anything, about their relationship and how they’re going about their business.”

As far as how the position will play out – playing time mostly – Mattingly isn’t concerned.

“Not really. I think it’ll be fine,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll be that bit an issue.”

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Dodgers host Mariners in 2015 Civil Rights Game

Major League Baseball on Thursday announced the Dodgers will host the Seattle Mariners in the 2015 Civil Rights game on Jackie Robinson day on April 15. As part of the 70th anniversary of Robinson becoming the first African-American to sign a contract to play in the major leagues, a slew of events are scheduled in and around the game.

Here is a quick run down of what is in store:

The 2015 Civil Rights Game on Jackie Robinson Day will be played between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, April 15th, and will air nationally on ESPN2 and via the WatchESPN app, with coverage scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. PT (10:00 p.m. ET) as part of the network’s Wednesday Night Baseball package.

MLB Beacon Awards

Dodgers owner, entrepreneur and philanthropist Earvin “Magic” Johnson and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will receive the 2015 MLB Beacon Awards, which recognize individuals whose lives and actions have been emblematic of the spirit of the civil rights movement.

Frank Robinson – Hall of Famer Frank Robinson (MLB Senior Advisor and Honorary American League President) will receive a special award in recognition of the 40th Anniversary of him becoming Baseball’s first African-American manager. Robinson managed his first game for the Cleveland Indians on April 8, 1975.

Youth Baseball Camp

In celebration of the Civil Rights Game and Jackie Robinson Day, Major League Baseball will host a youth baseball clinic, administered by the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, at the Rancho Cienega Sports Complex on Tuesday, April 14th, at 5 p.m.. Members of the Dodgers RBI program, as well as other local youth baseball leagues, will receive coaching on throwing, pitching, fielding, hitting and other skill-based activities. Dodger Alumni Tommy Davis, Lee Lacy, Mickey Hatcher and Derrel Thomas also will be in attendance.

Jackie Robinson Day – Number ‘42’

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson signing his first professional contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1945, which was the first step toward his eventual breaking of the color barrier on April 15, 1947. As has been tradition each April 15th since 2009, Major League Baseball will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day with all players and on-field personnel wearing Number ’42’ during that day’s games, including the Civil Rights Game at Dodger Stadium. Throughout the league, the annual celebration to commemorate the anniversary of Robinson breaking Baseball’s color barrier in 1947 will feature on-field, pre-game ceremonies in ballparks throughout the League.

“On behalf of our family and the Jackie Robinson Foundation, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Major League Baseball for honoring Jack’s historic achievements and his fight for equality both on and off the ball field,” said Rachel Robinson, wife of Jackie Robinson and the founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. “In recognizing Jack’s accomplishments, it is my hope that this commemoration inspires future generations towards impactful service within their own communities and beyond.”

Here is a run down of pregame events leading up to the Civil Rights Game:

Rachel Robinson will play a central role in a first-pitch ceremony prior to the Civil Rights Game on Jackie Robinson Day. In addition to Mrs. Robinson, the ceremony also will feature Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, Dodgers Legend Don Newcombe, Joni Campanella (Roy’s daughter) and scholars from the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Dolores Huerta, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Frank Robinson also will be recognized during pre-game ceremonies. Actor and multi-platinum Grammy nominated artist, Tyrese Gibson, will perform the National Anthem.

Major League Baseball and its Clubs are longstanding supporters of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, and currently sponsor 33 Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars. The Foundation, established in 1973, provides four-year college scholarships, graduate school grants and extensive mentoring to a diverse group of academically distinguished students with leadership potential. The Foundation cultivates future leaders who will be ambassadors of Jackie Robinson’s guiding life tenet, “A life is not important except in its impact on other lives.”

About the Civil Rights Game

The 2015 Civil Rights Game is the ninth installation of an annual event that began in Memphis in 2007, centering on an exhibition game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians. After another exhibition game in Memphis in 2008, the Civil Rights Game moved to Cincinnati (2009-2010), Atlanta (2011-2012), and Chicago (2013) as regular season contests, and last year was hosted in Houston by the Astros.

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Dodgers make a trade to strengthen bullpen

A logjam in the Baltimore Orioles bullpen paved the way for the Dodgers to potentially strengthen their relief corps on Thursday.

According to reports – although not yet confirmed by the Dodgers – Baltimore relief pitcher Ryan Webb is on his way to Los Angeles along with minor league catcher Brian Ward.

The Dodgers, according to reports, will send the Orioles minor leaguers Ben Rowen – who went to Palos Verdes High – and Charlie O’Brien.
Webb began the season on the Orioles active roster, but Baltimore’s deep bullpen and his shaky 3.83 ERA last year made him expendable. The Orioles designated Webb for assignment Monday before Opening Day.

Webb is in the final year of a two-year, $4.5 million contract. and is owned $2.75 million this year.

Ward is a 29-year-old catcher who reached Triple-A level last year after spending six seasons in the Orioles system.

The key, of course, is Webb, who should find a home in the Dodgers still-a-work-in-progress bullpen.

In parts of six seasons with the Orioles with the San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins and Orioles the 29-year-old right-hander has pitched in 317 games without making a start, compiling a 16-18 record with a 3.38 ERA and 1.352 WHIP.

His best year came in 2013 when he pitched in 66 games for the Marlins and posted a 2.91 ERA over 80.1 innings pitched.

Last season in Baltimore, WEbb went 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.257 WHIP in 51 appearances.

Ward, 29, was born in Santa Monica and attended Marina High in Huntington Beach.
He has played six seasons in the minor leagues, compiling a ,237 average with 15 home runs and 132 RBIs.

He split last season between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. In 65 games with Norfolk, he hit .227 with two home runs and 20 RBIs, and threw out 19 of 39 base-stealers (32.7 percent).His best year came in 2013 when he pitched in 66 games for the Marlins and posted a 2.91 ERA over 80.1 innings pitched.

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