Daily Distractions: Alexander Guerrero’s short practice window opens now.

Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero said he already feels comfortable playing second base. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Different players have told me on different occasions that only pitchers and catchers need a good four weeks-plus of spring training. Hitters don’t need nearly as much time to prepare for a season — maybe a week or two, as a general rule, if they’re in shape.

There are exceptions to the rule. Alex Guerrero is one.

Guerrero only played 12 games in the Dominican Winter League because of a nagging hamstring injury. That’s simply not enough games to expect the 27-year-old to transform into the Dodgers’ Opening Day second baseman after playing shortstop his entire career. Even Superman doesn’t change capes that fast.

Guerrero will take the field today as the Dodgers’ starting second baseman against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the first Cactus League game for both clubs. (Most other clubs begin playing games no sooner than Friday, since most clubs don’t start the season in the Southern Hemisphere.) Second base is the only Opening Day position remotely up for grabs — unless you count the starting pitcher — so it will be a primary focus on the field, starting today.

In an intrasquad game Sunday, Guerrero flawlessly charged a ground ball, picked it up on the run, and threw across his body to retire the runner at first base. He looked like a second baseman. If Guerrero looks that smooth in today’s game, it will be in large part because of the four lonely weeks he spent fielding ground balls at Camelback Ranch before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training.

“I’ve practiced enough that it comes naturally to me,” Guerrero said through an interpreter. “Training’s always going to be different than the game, but I feel comfortable.”

The Dodgers have 19 days’ worth of games — 21 in all — before leaving for Australia. Guerrero said it will be “very important” for him to see game action over the next three weeks at second base. But it’s not as if he’s picking up where he left off Dec. 12, his final Dominican Winter League game.

After receiving his United States work visa and entering the country on Jan. 13, Guerrero came to Camelback Ranch and got to work.

“I feel so much more comfortable at second now … than I did in the Dominican,” he said. “I feel like it’s natural to me now.”

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Vin Scully honored at Southern California Sports Broadcasters awards luncheon.

Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully was named the Chick Hearn Radio Play-By-Play award winner for the 16th time at the Southern California Sports Broadcasters awards luncheon Monday.

Scully also won the SCSB Best Television Play-By-Play Announcer award for the 12th time. The 86-year-old has been part of the Dodgers’ broadcast team since 1950. Scully will broadcast all Dodgers games in California and Arizona in 2014.

The 2013 Special Achievement Award was bestowed upon Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. In November, Kershaw won the Branch Rickey Award from the Rotary Club of Denver for his off-field humanitarian work, and the National League Cy Young award for his pitching exploits.

Earlier this month, Kershaw signed  a seven-year, $215 million contract, the largest ever given a pitcher.

Daily Distractions: SportsNet LA officially launches on February 25.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully will call all the Dodgers games in California and Arizona on SportsNet LA. (Associated Press photo)

It’s official. SportsNetLA exists.

The network has a website but it doesn’t have an actual studio yet — that’s under construction in El Segundo as I type. The network doesn’t even have a live channel; the official launch date is Feb. 25, one day before the Dodgers’ first Cactus League game. By then, Time Warner and its 2-plus million subscribers in Southern California are guaranteed to not miss a game. AT&T, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Dish and Verizon FiOS customers don’t have that luxury yet.

The message splashed across the top of the website, in all caps — “DEMAND YOUR DODGERS NOW” — seems to anticipate a conflict. When the Lakers broke off their relationship with Fox in 2012 to launch their own channel (TWC SportsNet), non-TWC customers were unable to watch games well into the season. The millions of Laker fans who didn’t subscribe to Time Warner became a group of angry nomads, left to seek out homes, bars, restaurants and pirate internet feeds that carried the games until their provider agreed to pay for the new channel.

Dodger fans, this could be you soon. We don’t know.

Here’s what we do know:

1. Vin Scully will broadcast all the Dodgers’ games in California and Arizona for the third straight year. Charley Steiner (who moves over from the radio play-by-play chair) and analyst Orel Hershiser (who moves over from eight years with ESPN) will call the games that Scully does not.

2. Nomar Garciaparra and Rick Monday will be the new Dodgers’ radio team on 570-AM.

3. Garciaparra and Jerry Hairston Jr. will contribute to SportsNet LA’s pre- and post-game coverage, both live from the stadium and from the SportsNet LA studio.

4. Hershiser will also be a part of the pregame broadcasts from the SportsNet LA studio on occasion.

5. Alanna Rizzo, late of the MLB Network, will be the in-game reporter during games called by Steiner and Hershiser.

6. John Hartung will be the studio host for SportsNet LA, anchoring the network’s live shows. He joins the network from KABC-TV in Los Angeles, where he spent the past 11 years as a sports and news anchor.

7. Fox’s pre- and post-game studio was set up behind the center-field fence at Dodger Stadium. That’s gone. Expect something in the area of the home dugout.

Some bullet points for Answer Your Cat’s Question Day:
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Daily Distractions: The Arizona Diamondbacks’ general manager took offense to the Dodgers eating bananas.

Mark McGwire brawl

The Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks brawled at Dodger Stadium in June, but pitcher Ian Kennedy wasn’t around to brush anyone back in September. By then, he had been traded to San Diego. (Getty Images)

Sports-talk radio is a breeding ground for talk of tribalism, vengeance and all those crude things that come from bitter rivalries. Such talk just usually doesn’t come from the mouth of a Major League Baseball general manager.

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Kevin Towers waded into those waters Tuesday. Pun intended. And it had nothing to do with the Dodgers’ celebration in the Chase Field swimming pool after they clinched a playoff berth on Sept. 19.

Towers took great offense to the Dodgers’ celebration on Sept. 9, when Juan Uribe went 4 for 4 with three home runs in an 8-1 Dodgers win . From arizonasports.com:

“I was sitting behind home plate that game and when it showed up on the Diamondvision of stuffing bananas down their throats, I felt like we were a punching bag,” Towers told Arizona Sports 620′s Burns and Gambo Tuesday. “Literally, if I would have had a carton of baseballs I would have fired them into the dugout from where I was sitting behind home plate.

“That’s not who we are as Diamondbacks, that’s not how — I mean, it’s a reflection on Gibby, on myself, on our entire organization. They slapped us around and we took it.”

Towers said that has to stop, and following the game he had “a few choice words for the (coaching) staff.”

Nothing changed.

“You’d think the GM comes down and makes it a point to talk to the staff about it that at we need to start protecting our own and doing things differently,” he said. “Probably a week later Goldy gets dinged, and no retaliation. It’s like ‘wait a minute.’ Not that I don’t take any of our guys from a lesser standpoint, but if Goldy’s getting hit, it’s an eye for an eye, somebody’s going down or somebody’s going to get jackknifed.”

After the season, the Diamondbacks dismissed pitching coach Charles Nagy and first-base coach Steve Sax.

No word yet on whether Towers made those moves before or after researching this stat:

 

Some bullet points for a World Post Day:

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Networks announce Braves-Dodgers National League Division Series broadcast schedule. (Updated with start times)

Ernie Johnson will provide play-by-play, while retired players Ron Darling and Cal Ripken will provide the color commentary, for the TBS broadcasts of the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.

TBS is broadcasting every game in the best-of-five series. Craig Sager, more famous for his suit choices than his in-game reporting, will be the in-game reporter.

The radio plan is as follows: On 570-AM, Vin Scully will call innings 1-3, followed by Rick Monday and Charley Steiner in innings 4-6, followed by Scully again in innings 7-9. Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman will call the first-round series on ESPN Radio (710-AM in Los Angeles).

Here’s the first-round schedule again, in case you missed it. Start times for Games 3, 4 and 5 have yet to be announced:

Game 1    Thu Oct. 3, 5:37 p.m.    Dodgers at Braves
Game 2    Fri   Oct. 4, 3:07 p.m.    Dodgers at Braves
Game 3    Sun Oct. 6, (TBA)          Braves at Dodgers
Game 4    Mon Oct. 7*, (TBA)        Braves at Dodgers
Game 5    Wed Oct. 9*, (TBA)       Dodgers at Braves

*if necessary

Vin Scully will open and close the Dodgers’ playoff broadcasts on the radio.

While the national networks handle television duties for the Dodgers’ first-round playoff series, Vin Scully will start — and close — for the Dodgers on the radio.

Scully will call the first three innings and the final three innings of each Dodger postseason game on 570-AM, the Dodgers announced Monday. Charley Steiner and Rick Monday will call the middle three innings.

TBS, and possibly the MLB Network, will televise the Dodgers’ first-round games. All National League Championship Series games will be on TBS while all World Series games will air on Fox, should the Dodgers make it that far. Click here for the complete postseason TV schedule.

The Dodgers’ Spanish-language radio broadcast on Univision America KTNQ 1020 AM will be led by Jaime Jarrín, who is in his 55th season with the Dodgers. Fernando Valenzuela, color commentator for all home games and select road games for the Dodgers’ Spanish radio broadcast, will call all postseason games along with Pepe Yñiguez. Valenzuela has been a part of the Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcast team for 11 seasons and Yñiguez is in his 16th season with the club.

Scully is in his 64th season with the club.

Daily Distractions: When baseball imitates reality television (accidentally or otherwise).

Kenley Jansen

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen jumps into the Chase Field pool after Thursday’s win. (Associated Press photo)

Sports is the original reality television. Nothing like a little drama to spice it up, right?

Forget “Poolgate.” Call the controversy over the Dodgers’ postgame celebration “The Real World: Phoenix” (and hope MTV doesn’t keep a copyright attorney on retainer).

Apparently, prior to the series, the Arizona Diamondbacks asked the Dodgers to confine their clinching celebration to the visitors’ clubhouse. They even stationed some security guards on the field Thursday to make sure the Dodgers didn’t do anything crazy:

As it always does, human nature set in. When someone is ordered not to do something, he finds his best way around it. Ever pull into the carpool lane while stuck in traffic and driving alone? Ever sneak a peak at your phone at a red light, look for a cop, then quickly put the phone away? (There was a case of crude rebellion on Project Runway last night. Ah, reality TV — the reality is, I was ironing before you got into the room!)

The Dodgers ran across the field and into the pool.

The incident has spawned some lengthy prose about celebrations and their place in baseball.

Even Arizona senator John McCain chimed in today:

Again, this wasn’t about a celebration.

Hall, now the Diamondbacks’ president, is the Dodgers’ former director of public relations. He may have discretely asked the Dodgers not to go back onto the field to celebrate, but then how did Scully find out and mention this on the broadcast? That got the fans involved, too. Pretty brilliant way to incite a rivalry, accidentally or otherwise.

Seeing the drama go viral, it’s not hard to imagine Hall sipping on some champagne himself this morning.

Some bullet points to get you through the weekend:
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Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully to appear in Cooperstown on August 2, 2014 for Hall of Fame’s anniversary.

Vin Scully

85-year-old Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully is returning to Cooperstown in 2014.

Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully has joined the lineup of special guests for the Aug. 2, 2014 celebration concert to honor the 75th Anniversary of the National Baseball Hall Of Fame and Museum.

Scully will record the introduction and opening segment of the concert that will include the world renowned Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, which will serve as the “house band” for the 75th Anniversary Concert.

“The Hall of Fame is the cathedral of baseball, and it is an honor to be a part of the 75th Anniversary Concert in Cooperstown,” Scully said in a statement. “This memorable event will be a fitting celebration of the National Pastime and the Museum that preserves the legacy of the game.”

Scully will return to the booth for his 65th season with the Dodgers in 2014. The 1982 Hall of Fame inductee turns 86 in November.