Albuquerque Isotopes brawl with Reno Aces [video].

The Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes, were involved in a massive brawl this evening during their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks-affiliated Reno Aces. Ten players were ejected:

Ben Ross of KOLO-TV in Reno provided the video and the play-by-play on Twitter:

Ross deleted the video, but we have a couple more videos below:
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Alex Guerrero returns to Triple-A, “has a chance to be up here,” per Dodgers GM.

Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero could join the Dodgers in a utility infield role by the end of this season. (Associated Press photo)

 

SAN FRANCISCO >> Alex Guerrero‘s long road back from a vicious dugout fight in May has taken him back to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Guerrero’s rehab was transferred from Single-A Rancho Cucamonga today to Triple-A. The Isotopes are playing a game tonight in Reno, Nevada. It was in a game with Albuquerque that Guerrero had part of his left ear bitten off by Miguel Olivo in the visitors’ dugout in Salt Lake City.

“There’s a good chance had he not had the incident, he probably would’ve been here by now,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said.

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Alex Guerrero doubles in first rehab game with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Alex Guerrero went 1 for 2, with a double and a fly ball, and played two innings at second base in his first rehab game for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

The infielder is working back from a gruesome fight that cost him a portion of his left ear, bit off by then-teammate Miguel Olivo. Guerrero didn’t play for 51 days after the incident in a Triple-A game May 20.

Alex Guerrero’s rehab moves to Rancho Cucamonga.

Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero, whose progress to the majors was stunted when then-teammate Miguel Olivo bit off a portion of his ear during a Triple-A game in May, will continue his rehabilitation playing for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Guerrero had been playing games for the Dodgers’ Rookie-level affiliate in Arizona since July 11. He is due to play second base and bat third today for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, who are playing in Bakersfield until Tuesday.

The Quakes’ next home game is Thursday. Dodgers pitching prospect Julio Urias is scheduled to start that game.

Dodgers release Miguel Olivo, two days after brutal fight with teammate Alex Guerrero.

Miguel Olivo

Miguel Olivo was released by the Dodgers on Thursday. (Getty Images)

The Dodgers released Miguel Olivo on Thursday, two days after the catcher slugged teammate Alex Guerrero and bit off a portion of his ear in the middle of a Triple-A game in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Olivo had been suspended by the Albuquerque Isotopes on Wednesday. The Dodgers have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

The 35-year-old was only added to the Dodgers’ 40-man roster in April after a somewhat tumultuous spring training. Olivo signed a minor-league deal with the Dodgers in January and received an invitation to the major-league camp. Despite batting .263 (5 for 19) in limited Cactus League playing time, Olivo was returned to the minor leagues as the Dodgers opted to keep three catchers (A.J. Ellis, Drew Butera and Tim Federowicz).

Olivo requested his release at the time but ultimately accepted an assignment to Albuquerque, where he batted .368 (28 for 76). After Ellis was placed on the disabled list and Federowicz struggled to hit major-league pitching, the Dodgers purchased Olivo’s contract May 1 and let him start six of the next 10 games.

But Olivo struggled to hit too. He struck out nine times in his last 13 at-bats while failing to collect a hit. When Ellis was activated from the disabled list May 14, Olivo was optioned back to Albuquerque. Tuesday marked Olivo’s fourth start since returning to the minors.
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Daily Distractions: On close calls on the basepaths, has Yasiel Puig run out of luck?

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig has been thrown out on the bases seven times this season. (Getty Images)

The Dodgers have seen 15 runners thrown out on the basepaths this season. That’s two fewer than the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals in a statistical category that no team wants to lead.

Yasiel Puig is single-handedly responsible for seven of those misfortunes, tied with Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte for the MLB lead. Puig was doubled off first base in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader in Minnesota. Umpire Tim Welke had a good look at the play from his vantage point at second base. Welke had an even better look at this play in the night game (from Yahoo.com):

With one out, Puig beat out a chopper up the middle that second baseman Brian Dozier threw in the dirt to first base. Chris Colabello couldn’t pick it and the ball hopped past him, with catcher Yosmil Pinto backing up the play. After he ran through the bag, Puig sharply turned his head to the right to check for the ball’s location. It was evident from Puig’s body language that Puig wanted to take an extra base, but when he saw Pinto with the ball, he applied the brakes. If Puig’s left shoulder began to dip toward second, the rest of his body actually leaned right. He never left the baseline, never crossed the foul line. He stopped, turned around clockwise (that’s away from second base), and started walking back to the bag like an innocent man who just had hit an infield single.

When Pinto tagged Puig, Welke signaled that Puig was out. Was that the right call? Judge for yourself.

The Yahoo! article suggested that Welke “seemed to be looking for a reason to call Puig out.” Without interviewing Welke, a veteran of 29 major-league seasons and the crew chief last night, it’s impossible to know that for sure.

Psychology tells us that there might have been a very real phenomenon at work. It’s called the confirmation bias and we’re all susceptible to it at some point, on some level. Reading further into the well-sourced Wikipedia entry on the topic, “even if people gather and interpret evidence in a neutral manner, they may still remember it selectively to reinforce their expectations.”

A player who’s already been thrown out on the basepaths six times in a month (Puig) can be reasonably expected to make the same mistake again. Puig’s mistake in the first game might have reinforced that expectation for everyone in the ballpark, including the second-base umpire. Given a split second to make his call at first base in the second game, Welke could easily have fallen prey to confirmation bias. That’s not an opinion — that’s a real possibility, reinforced repeatedly in scientifically valid experiments. Welke might not have been aware of a possible confirmation bias at work in his own mind. Even if reporters were given the chance to interview him after the game, the interview might not have cleared up the question.

Here’s what we do know: The more outs he runs into, the more Puig hurts his chances of getting the benefit of the doubt in situations like the one Thursday night in Minnesota.

Thursday was still a good day for Puig on the whole. The Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN) said that Puig is the first Dodgers player to reach base eight times in a doubleheader since Bill Buckner against the Giants in 1976.

Some bullet points for a Baby Day:
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Dodgers recall Jose Dominguez, option Chone Figgins to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Jose Dominguez

Jose Dominguez made just three appearances for Triple-A Albuquerque since his last appearance with the Dodgers on April 5. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers bolstered their depleted bullpen Monday by recalling right-hander Jose Dominguez from Triple-A Albuquerque and optioning utility player Chone Figgins to Albuquerque.

Coming into Monday night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Dodger relievers ranked second in MLB in innings pitched. Dominguez is healthy and well-rested. He’s made just five appearances in the last 17 days — three since his last game in a Dodgers uniform April 5. Four days later, the Dodgers optioned Dominguez to Albuquerque when Josh Beckett was activated from the disabled list.

Dominguez has allowed four earned runs in three appearances for the Dodgers this season.
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Daily Distractions: Philadelphia Phillies offer a visit from the Dodgers’ past and hypothetical present.

Tony Gwynn Jr.

Tony Gwynn Jr. batted .245 in 239 games with the Dodgers from 2011-12. (Getty Images)

When the Dodgers host the Philadelphia Phillies in a four-game series this week, the past and the hypothetical present converge.

Tony Gwynn Jr. played 239 games for the Dodgers from 2011-12. By one metric, he was the team’s best defensive outfielder during that time. Gwynn was a serviceable hitter until somewhere around June 2012; he batted .180 after June 1 of that year. Gwynn gave way to Shane Victorino, then Carl Crawford, and wound up spending all of 2013 in Triple-A.

Gwynn signed with Philadelphia last November (for a modest $900,000) and made the Phillies’ Opening Day roster. Gwynn doesn’t start against left-handed pitchers, so we might not see him in the series until Zack Greinke starts Wednesday. The platoon seems to be working; Gwynn is batting .292 this season.
The success might also stem from his jersey number. After going his own way since he broke into the majors in 2006, Gwynn is wearing his father’s number 19 for the first time in his career.

So about that “hypothetical present.”

The Dodgers were rumored to be interested in their opponent today, Cliff Lee, at the 2012 trade deadline. They traded for Joe Blanton instead and missed the playoffs. Last year Lee went 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA and made the National League All-Star team. Sounds like a missed opportunity.

Then again, given the Phillies’ reluctance to trade any of their high-priced, high-risk veterans (Lee, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley), it’s no surprise that Lee is still in Philadelphia. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has shown no intention of rebuilding his aging roster. Lee might be no less untouchable today than he was in the summer of 2012. His team, meanwhile, is 8-10 in the young season.

Lee, 35, is owed a total of $50 million between this year and next. The Dodgers opted to put that money toward signing Greinke instead and dealt their expendable prospects to Boston for Adrian Gonzalez, Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.

To think: Maybe if Lee became a Dodger, the Punto Era might never have existed.

Hypotheticals are fun.

Some bullet points for a Grounation Day:
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Spring training ends poorly for Dodgers’ Dan Haren.

Miguel Rojas

Miguel Rojas, who grounded out on this at-bat Saturday, finished spring training with a .387 batting average, second on the Dodgers to Justin Turner’s .389. (Associated Press photo)

ANAHEIM — Dan Haren‘s final spring tuneup was one to forget.

The right-hander allowed all six Angels runs in a 6-2 Dodgers loss before an announced crowd of 43,553 at Angel Stadium on Saturday.

The Dodgers resume regular-season play tomorrow in San Diego. It’s the Padres’ first game of the season. Opening Day for most major-league teams is Monday.

Last weekend, the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks twice in Sydney, Australia and have a regular-season record of 2-0. They came back and lost two of three to the Angels, officially finishing spring training with a 7-12-5 record.

Haren didn’t go to Australia. Since the Dodgers only needed two starting pitchers (and kept Paul Maholm for insurance), Haren stayed behind and pitched minor-league spring training games in Arizona.

The playing environment changed dramatically Saturday. Haren went from games with no official statistics and no names on the back of players’ jerseys to a sold-out stadium. The change seemed to have caught him by surprise.

The Angels scored two runs in the first inning on back-to-back RBI doubles by Albert Pujols and David Freese. In the second inning, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun hit back-to-back home runs.

Trout’s home run came on a hanging split-fingered fastball, Haren said, while almost all of the Angels’ other hard hits came off his cut fastball. Haren allowed six hits in two innings.

“It was just kind of getting it a little bit flat,” Haren said of his cutter. “I have to have the mindset of driving it down and away to a righty rather than just leaving it out there.

“I’m going to throw quite a few of them in the bullpen. I need to get that sharpened up. My other pitches were actually OK. I struggled with it last start too in the minor leagues. I threw a bunch in the last inning of that game.”

Haren starts Wednesday in San Diego, the finale of the three-game series with the Padres. His final major-league spring training ERA: 6.00.

“It’s the last one that doesn’t count,” Haren said. “No use thinking about it too much. I got some work in. It’s been a while since I felt like I’ve been on a mound, it seems like, at least in a real game. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I feel OK. Just flush it down and move on to the next one.”

Said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly: “I’m glad it’s tonight and not Wednesday.”

The Dodgers scored both of their runs in the third inning on a two-run double by Chone Figgins. Most of the starters played only two defensive innings.

It was a good day for the Dodgers’ bullpen. Against almost entirely major-league competition, they combined for six scoreless innings: One by Brandon League, three by Matt Magill and two by Red Patterson.

The box score is here.

A few more notes:
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The Dodgers’ 30-man travel roster to Sydney, Australia: A closer look.

Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero was on the Dodgers’ plane to Sydney, Australia, but might not be on the Opening Day roster. (Associated Press photo)

In case you missed it somehow, the Dodgers announced their travel roster Sunday before boarding a flight to Sydney, Austrlia.

I didn’t have time or space for a longer analysis of the 30 names yesterday, but one is probably needed.
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