Free-agent outfielder Torii Hunter said Monday in an appearance on the MLB Network that he’d like to make a decision on his future soon. On the surface, the Dodgers appear to be a bad fit. Left fielder Carl Crawford is expected to be healthy on opening day after having Tommy John surgery in August. Center fielder Matt Kemp should be ready following his shoulder procedure in September. Andre Ethier is healthy and entrenched in right field, and general manager Ned Colletti said Monday that he hasn’t talked to any teams about trading Ethier.
For Hunter, who can play both center and left — and did so while hitting .313/.365/.451 over 140 games last season in Anaheim — Dodger Stadium looks like a bad place to ply your trade.
But rumors gained steam last week when the Dodgers talked to Hunter’s agent at the GM meetings. There was no word how far those talks got, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point Hunter broached the subject with his pal, Kemp, too. Hunter lives in Southern California and plans stay once he retires. At age 37, that probably isn’t too far off.
Colletti has stated his interest in acquiring someone who can back up Kemp in center field — so why not Hunter? It’s not as if the Dodgers can’t afford him.
There’s one problem with that, manager Don Mattingly said Monday.
No Dodgers will win Gold Glove awards this season. That was an anticlimactic revelation in an hour-long show on ESPN2 Tuesday night, when the awards were announced on live television for the first time.
Florida Marlins pitcher Mark Buehrle got the award over Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, the last of the Dodgers’ finalists to be announced. Kershaw completed his second consecutive errorless season and hasn’t committed an error since Aug. 1, 2010 but Buehrle, who left the Chicago White Sox to sign with the Marlins last winter, has won the award each of the last three seasons in the American League.
Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves edged Andre Ethier for the award among National League right fielders. Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees got the nod over Adrian Gonzalez among American League first basemen (Gonzalez was one of three AL finalists despite being traded to the Dodgers in August).
Three Dodgers won Gold Glove awards last season — Kershaw, Ethier and center fielder Matt Kemp.
Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier and pitcher Clayton Kershaw were named finalists for National League Gold Glove Awards at their respective positions Monday.
Ethier ranked second among National League right fielders with a .988 fielding percentage, committing just three errors in 146 games (142 starts) in right field this season. His streak of 282 games (276 starts) from July 10, 2010-July 25, 2012 without an error was the second-longest active run among non-pitchers in baseball behind only Franklin Gutierrez and the second-longest errorless run by a Dodger outfielder behind only Brett Butler’s 306-game run from 1992-94.
Kershaw completed his second consecutive errorless season and has not committed an error since Aug. 1, 2010 — a span of 76 games. At 24, he led the Majors with 11 pickoffs and has either led or tied for the National League lead in pickoffs in each of the last three seasons.
Both players won the award for the first time last season. So did Matt Kemp, who won’t get a chance to defend his award after a defensively stout but injury-riddled 2012 campaign.
Adrian Gonzalez will get a chance to defend his Gold Glove from last season — in the American League. He made just three errors at first base with Boston before being traded to Los Angeles, and is one of three finalists in the AL (along with Eric Hosmer and Mark Teixeira). Gonzalez also won a pair of Gold Gloves in the NL while playing for the Padres in 2008 and 2009.
Gold Glove winners will be unveiled Nov. 9. Here’s the complete list of nominees from both leagues:
Bobby Abreu‘s first career pinch-hit home run provided the final two runs of the Dodgers’ 8-0 win over the Colorado Rockies. After the game, manager Don Mattingly was asked if he’d do more to get Abreu into the lineup.
With Shane Victorino, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier all healthy? No.
But there’s something to be said for the fourth act of Abreu’s season. Let’s call Act 1 “Anaheim,” Act 2 “Starter for the Dodgers,” Act 3 “Albuquerque” and Act 4 “Pinch hitter.” All 19 of Abreu’s plate appearances in September have come as a pinch-hitter. Add in his last four at-bats in July before the Dodgers designated him for assignment, and Abreu has made 23 straight plate appearances as a pinch hitter.
Andre Ethier was back in the lineup Friday against a left-handed pitcher, Jeff Francis of the Colorado Rockies. This is noteworthy because Ethier was not in the lineup when the Dodgers faced Padres left-hander Clayton Richard two days ago in San Diego.
On Thursday, Don Mattingly shared his thoughts on the disparity between Ethier’s batting average against right-handers (.325) and left-handers (.214).
The Dodgers’ lineup got a last-minute makeover Wednesday, giving it an unfamiliar look for today’s game against the Padres:
Two of the changes were brought on by injury. Shane Victorino was originally leading off, but his injured left wrist is preventing him from batting right-handed — the side he needs to bat from against Padres left-hander Clayton Richard. Second baseman Mark Ellis is ill and undergoing IV treatment today, manager Don Mattingly said.
The other changes weren’t. A.J. Ellis isn’t catching a day game after a night game, as usual. Andre Ethier is 4 for 28 with a double and four RBIs in his career against Richard, and .215/.270/.321 against all lefties this season, so he’s out in favor of Rivera (who’s 0 for 8 lifetime against Richard.
You can put a price tag on a feel-good story.
The Dodgers announced today that Luis Cruz replica jerseys ($110) will be on sale in the Left Field Tent at Dodger Stadium, and that Cruz t-shirts ($28) will be arriving by mid-week for sale as well.
The significance of this bit of news, of course, is that these perks usually aren’t extended to players who began the season as spring-training invitees on minor-league contracts.
Just to recap Cruz’s recent journey to the merchandise racks:
The Dodgers, once the undisputed major-league leaders in bunting, have fallen to second — 71 to the Milwaukee Brewers’ 73 –in successful sacrifices. Don’t take your eye off this race.
In what appeared to be an attempt to correct this disturbing trend, several Dodgers took part in extra bunting practice before Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Dee Gordon and Shane Victorino were both on the field crouched, bat head out in front of the plate, about four hours before tonight’s game.
But only one of the two is in the lineup today, and Victorino is hitting sixth for only the seventh time this season — the first time as a Dodger. Andre Ethier is batting second for the first time since Aug. 1.
“I’ll bunt,” Ethier said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team.”
Maybe he won’t have to.
“I probably wouldn’t bunt (a baserunner) over with Andre,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Yesterday, I compared the Dodgers’ offense to a sputtering Corvette idling in the driveway (Usually not my driveway, usually my neighbor’s driveway at 2 in the morning).
Don Mattingly tacitly agreed with the comparison in his postgame press conference, saying: “we’re having our troubles putting up runs. (Eric) Stults, he can pitch, he can change speeds and keep the ball down, but I think we’ve got to do a little better job.”
ESPN, which televised last night’s game, put together this nifty head-to-head comparison of Stults and Clayton Kershaw, yesterday’s starters. Stults’ numbers aren’t bad this season. Neither are Kershaw’s.
Kershaw said he got to know “Stultsie” well during their two years together in L.A.
“It’s nice to see him doing well,” Kershaw said. “Wish he hadn’t done as well tonight.”
Maybe a 1-1 tie when both starters exited the game was to be expected. But at some point doesn’t the Dodger lineup have to start mashing?
Matt Kemp was penciled into the cleanup spot in the Dodgers’ lineup for the first time this season, and it appears his collision into the center-field wall in Colorado will only keep him out of the lineup for two games.
“It’s as good as it’s going to get,” he said of his knee, which was still swollen Thursday and rendered him unavailable for the Dodgers’ 2-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kemp downplayed the severity of the pain in his left shoulder, but manager Don Mattingly said that the center fielder might still miss the game if the shoulder tightens up after batting practice.
In his career, Kemp is a better hitter out of the three hole, but he has more experience batting fourth (203 games) than third (185). He’s batting .289/.354/.521 as a cleanup hitter and .337/.392/.568 third.
“I batted fourth all last year,” Kemp said. “I know how to do it.”
Mattingly said that he wanted to separate left-handed hitters Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier. Gonzalez is hitting third, Kemp fourth, Hanley Ramirez fifth and Ethier sixth. “Matt didn’t care either way, Adrian didn’t care either way,” Mattingly said.