The Dodgers, carrying three catchers and needing to make room for right-hander Chad Billingsley, optioned backstop Tim Federowicz to Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday.
Federowicz went 0-for-3 with a walk in his only appearance of the season Sunday.
Federowicz hit .294 with 11 home runs and 76 RBIs in his first full Triple-A season last year. That was enough to earn a promotion to the relatively low-pressure job of a backup major-league catcher. He held the edge on the job from the end of last season to the end of spring training, until the Dodgers traded Aaron Harang for veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez on Saturday.
Full disclosure: I picked the Pittsburgh Pirates to finish third, ahead of St. Louis and Chicago, in the National League Central this year. Can’t take it back. It happened.
One week later, I found myself using the quality of the Dodgers’ weekend opponent as some sort of asterisk in a game story after the Bucs were swept out of Dodger Stadium. That’s what happens when you can recite stats like these:
Six games into the season, NL pitchers are hitting .138/.180/.198. The Pirates are hitting .119/.188/.159.
Tim Federowicz had four quality at-bats Sunday but finished 0 for 3 with a walk. (photo by Brad Mangin)
Tim Federowicz played like a man on a mission in his first game of the season Sunday because, well, he was.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I wanted to show that it’s not going to break my spirits.”
The spirit-crushing stuff hasn’t even hit yet. Federowicz merely knows it’s on the way. He is the Dodgers’ third catcher, a job with less permanence than a disaster-scene coordinator. As the odd man out of the triumverate, he’s trying his best to keep a brave face in the midst of a messy situation.
When the Dodgers acquired veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez on Saturday from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for pitcher Aaron Harang, Federowicz sounded understanding if not exactly thrilled after making his first 25-man roster a week ago, then spending his time away from the field moving into an apartment in the area.
There have only been two games, so we feel pretty confident calling this diving, over-the-shoulder catch by Dee Gordon the best catch of the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes’ season. Tack on the one-hop throw to first base from center field to complete the double play, and Gordon made a pretty special play tonight in the ‘Topes 10-6 win. Watch for yourself:
Rick Renteria, manager of Team Mexico, stops for an interview after his team’s 10-2 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday. If you watched this interview on TV in Mexico, now you know who that goofy-looking guy with the cell phone camera was.
The Dodgers are hosting the Texas Rangers today. Scott Van Slyke is starting at first base in his first call-up to the major league side since being demoted from the 40-man roster last year.
Keep an eye on the Rangers’ bullpen. Former Dodger Josh Lindblom, traded last year to the Philadelphia Phillies for Shane Victorino, is scheduled to pitch for Texas. Not many 25-year-old middle relievers can say they were traded for two former All-Stars, but Lindblom can (Victorino and Michael Young).
Three significant bits of injury news were widely reported out of Glendale this morning (I’m in Tempe) that I’ll pass along:
1. Zack Greinke, feeling better today after missing yesterday’s start with a flu, will throw a bullpen session Friday and pitch Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
2. Carl Crawford took 50 swings off a tee today and told reporters he felt fine.
3. Scott Elbert felt fine one day after throwing on flat ground for the first time since elbow surgery in January.
Before he was named manager of the Angels, Mike Scioscia honed his coaching chops in the Dodgers’ minor-league system. In 1999, he managed the Triple-A Albuquerque Dukes to a 65-74 record.
A couple years before that — we’re guessing 1995 or ’96 — he got his first exposure to coaching, and he remembered it as a real wake-up call.
“I remember the first field I went down to in instructional league and Chico Fernandez was our infield coach with the Dodgers,” Scioscia said. “I went down to do the catching, and he said ‘Mike, who did you like?’ I said nobody. You are just seeing the (players) raw. Oh my God. But you know who was on that field? (Adrian) Beltre. (Paul) Konerko. As these kids start to get a little separation from being teenagers you see that growth and you see that stone getting polished. And then you go, ‘wow.’ It’s almost that culture shock of going down and seeing an 18-year-old when you’ve only been seeing 28-year-old all-star caliber players in the major leagues.”
McPherson last surfaced in the majors in 2011, when he made 15 plate appearances with the White Sox. Once a top prospect in the Angels’ system, the 32-year-old flamed out due to injuries after losing the starting third base job in Anaheim to Chone Figgins in 2006. He sat out all of the 2007 season after having back surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his lower back before resurfacing in 2008 with the Albuquerque Isotopes, then a Florida Marlins affiliate.
With the Dodgers, McPherson appears headed for Albuquerque again. The Isotopes’ third baseman last season, Josh Fields, recently signed a minor-league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. McPherson has spent the majority of his career at the hot corner, but also saw time at first, center field, right field and designated hitter in 2012, when he split the year between the White Sox and Pirates’ organizations.
McPherson batted .265/.344/.490 in 2012 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs. The Dodgers will be his sixth organization in the last seven years.