Despite not batting between high school and this season, Hyun-Jin Ryu is batting .333 (4 for 12) with the Dodgers. (Associated Press photo)
Without prompt, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly did something Wednesday he rarely does: He criticized himself publicly.
Dodger pitchers have a .484 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) this year, third in the National League. That’s quite a bit higher than the .273 (13th) and .354 (9th) OPS that Dodger pitchers posted in 2012 and 2011, respectively. It’s not by chance, either.
“We’ve really tried to push our pitchers to work on it more,” Mattingly said. “I’ve been at fault, I think, in my first couple years for not putting emphasis on the pitchers and you start giving those at-bats away. The guy that can handle the bat really helps himself out. For the most part, he’s got to be able to bunt. A guy that can handle the bat and put it in play, you’re able to do some things.”
Are they doing more work in the cage, or different work?
“We started differently in the spring, working off the tee and putting them with Mac (hitting coach Mark McGwire) a bit,” Mattingly said. “Putting them in a situation that we’re actually giving them some drills on things that we do.”
Hyun-Jin Ryu is batting .333/.333/.417. Clayton Kershaw is tied for sixth on the team in home runs (OK, he’s only hit one, but still.) Zack Greinke is 1 for 4 with a walk.
There’s an episode of The Simpsons in which Krusty the Clown agreed to give away a free Krusty Burger if the United States won gold at certain events in the 1984 Olympics. When the Soviet Union boycotted the Games, Krusty stood to lose $44 million.
For some reason I was reminded of this episode when this came through my Twitter feed this morning:
How about this baseball note? This April featured the second highest average of strikeouts/game in the 138 year history of MLB
According to AdAge.com, Head & Shoulders spent $60 million in measured media last year, so MLB’s record strikeout rate probably won’t leave the company’s executives pulling their hair out like Krusty. Which is good, since bald shampoo executives can’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement of their product.
Ted Lilly’s most glaring fault Monday night wasn’t getting shelled for three innings before having to exit a 12-2 loss to the Rockies with back pain. It was the silence the Dodgers starter maintained about tightness in his back since making his first start of the season five days earlier.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was none too pleased to discover after the series opener against the Rockies that Lilly, who began the season one the disabled list due to left shoulder labrum surgery, hadn’t informed the Dodgers training staff of his ailment following a five-inning outing against the Mets a week ago in which he only allowed one run.
“He can’t just keep that to himself,” Mattingly said. “Then at least we know going in to the game that we possibly should have a guy that can go four or five innings, instead of having to use the whole group.”
When Skip Schumaker was tipped off after Monday’s seventh inning he might be called on to pitch, he was already tired – from playing second base.
The fifth Dodgers reliever in the 12-2 loss to the Rockies was a part-time closer at UC-Santa Barbara and a starting pitcher at Aliso Niguel High School.
“I wasn’t very good but I could throw hard. Everybody said I was a one-tool player – I could throw,” Schumaker said. “I grew up a Dodgers fan watching Orel (Hershiser), so to be on the same mound he was, was pretty neat.”
Chris Capuano continued to throw Monday at Dodger Stadium and is expected to start for the Albuquerque Isotopes on Wednesday. It’s the only rehab start Capuano is expected to make before he is activated from the disabled list. The left-hander strained his left calf covering first base on April 16.
Zack Greinke threw off flat ground from approximately 90-100 feet Monday as he continued his rehab from a fractured left clavicle. The right-hander said he’s still “just a little bit” sore 16 days after undergoing surgery to have a stabilizing metal plate inserted in the area of the clavicle: “I’m a little achy here and there.”
Greinke hasn’t swung a bat yet, saying “it’s not worth the risk,” and even cracked a joke about his swing. “It was already bad.”
Second baseman Mark Ellis is no closer to playing in a game, or being placed on the disabled list, since straining his right quadriceps on Friday. Ellis jogged a little bit Monday, said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who’s willing to play short-handed for now.
“We’ve played short before,” Mattingly said. “You can do it. Sometimes you may get 10 games. We just need to be creative and be careful with players early in the game. You can’t burn guys.”
Reinstating Hanley Ramirez from the 15-day disabled list Monday gave the Dodgers an extra infielder off the bench for Monday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies.
With Ellis, Mattingly said, “it’s more of a medical decision than a baseball decision right now.”
Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez might play his first regular-season game of 2013 tonight against the Colorado Rockies. (Keith Birmingham/Staff photographer)
The Dodgers placed pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the bereavement list and reinstated Hanley Ramirez from the disabled list prior to Monday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies.
Ramirez was expected to be activated at some point during the Dodgers’ three-game series against the Rockies when he showed up at Dodger Stadium Monday. He pronounced himself fit to play before heading off to field ground balls and take a round of batting practice, a normal pregame routine.
Kershaw left immediately after Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers and did not take questions from reporters.
“I’ve just seen a tick of it,” Mattingly said. “What I’ve seen, it seems like a Jackie Robinson type thing for one, crossing some barriers. It’ll be interesting to follow.”
Asked about how an openly gay player would be received on his team, Mattingly said, “I don’t know. I think it would be OK. The first time it happens, you’re in uncharted waters. A lot like Jackie, he would be making it easier for anyone else to step forward.”
But might that actually happen in Major League Baseball soon? “I don’t know,” Mattingly said. “I don’t know why not.”
The manager went on to describe how black players during Robinson’s era still had to sleep and eat in segregated facilities from their teammates, among other hardships. If Collins has a hard time gaining acceptance inside and outside the clubhouse, maybe other athletes will be discouraged from coming out.
“It’s not like the floodgates opened” for black players in Robinson’s time, Mattingly said, “but I think (Collins’ coming out) is a step in the right direction that’s going to create change.”
According to the official report filed by the Chattanooga Police Department, Puig was driving his BMW x35i sports utility vehicle 97 mph in a 50-mph zone when he was arrested early Sunday morning. He told the arresting officer that he was the designated driver for an unnamed passenger, who translated Puig’s statement from Spanish.
As some have pointed out, Puig’s speed wasn’t even the fastest driven by a baseball player this season:
big dodgers prospect yasiel puig cited for going 97 in a 50-mph zone. drake britton (redsox 111 mph man) shrugs at that.
The report states that Puig’s car moved “from the left lane over the center white dash lines and then back into the left lane. The BMW came close to a vehicle that was occupying the right lane and obeying the traffic laws. It took blue lights and multiple siren blasts to get the driver to stop. … The driver was clearly driving with wanton disregard for the safety of other citizen drivers as well as himself and his passenger.”
1. As great as he was, Kershaw pitches like that all the time
2. He didn’t talk to reporters after the game
Kershaw’s absence was due to a “personal matter,” a team spokesperson said. As Kershaw walked down the tunnel out of the Dodgers’ clubhouse, his left shoulder appeared to be heavily wrapped under his shirt — as it typically is after each game Kershaw pitches — which merely means that the pitcher wasted little time leaving the building.
More on Kershaw in a bit. I’m highlighting the point about his shoulder because this tweet caused a bit of a stir yesterday:
.@truebluela Hanley Ramirez leaves the clubhouse with his right hand heavily wrapped
Underneath that wrap was a still-healing ligament in Ramirez’s right thumb. It’s easy to assume that the hand was wrapped because Ramirez re-injured the thumb. Folks at the game said that he slid awkwardly into second base in the fifth inning. Did he do something to his thumb sliding?
Probably not. Ramirez remained in the game to play another inning in the field after the slide. He was removed in the top of the seventh inning, which is exactly when the Dodgers wanted him to leave. It’s believed that Ramirez wrapped his thumb after the game merely as a precaution, much like a pitcher who just threw 117 pitches wraps a healthy shoulder.
Matt Guerrier allowed two home runs in relief of Matt Magill on Saturday night, further depleting a short-handed Dodgers bullpen. (Associated Press photo)
For all the money the Dodgers have spent building their 2013 roster — about $230 million when the regular season began — they didn’t have a single pitcher available if last night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers had gone to the 12th inning.
That’s not exactly unusual. If taxed enough, any bullpen will run out of arms. The Dodgers didn’t even get to the 10th inning yesterday, but manager Don Mattingly had to line up his possibilities when the Dodgers had runners on second and third base with two outs in the ninth inning.
“I’ve got to bring Josh (Wall) back out” for the 10th inning, Mattingly said. “I’ve got one (inning) with Kenley (Jansen). Then it’s Schu.”