Daily Distractions: Dodgers won’t say when Matt Kemp will play in a game.


GLENDALE, Ariz. — Somewhere, the AlterG treadmill that served as Matt Kemp‘s exercise lifeline for weeks is collecting dust. Kemp is out in the open, where he should be, taking batting practice and running on a baseball field.

Tuesday, he was cleared to run a curved path with Dodgers first-base coach Davey Lopes watching. Since he was first cleared to run on Saturday, he had only been running straight lines.

His swing (above) looks normal. His body, chiseled from an off-season spent doing upper body work in the gym, looks better than normal. The only question is, when will Kemp be able to start playing games?

“Part of the plan is not to have a timetable,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Tuesday, “as far as throwing a date out there, so you guys can say ‘April 1,’ then we get to April 1 and he’s not quite ready so now he’s off schedule. If something happened he had ‘a setback.’

“The more he does, the more he steps forward, continues to do more without having setbacks, the more he continues to do and that tells us where we’re at.”

Kemp has said repeatedly that he won’t rush himself back. Playing in the Dodgers’ season-opening series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia is out. The first game on North American soil, March 30 against the Padres in San Diego, hasn’t been ruled out.

That’s the good news. It’s also all the news.

“Stan (Conte, the Dodgers’ head athletic trainer) has characterized it as kind of like the fifth stage of a seven-stage rehab,” Mattingly said. “So (Kemp) is getting there. We’re confident that he’s going in the right direction. I don’t think anyone wants to put pressure on Matt to say ‘this is the date’ because then it’s an artificial timetable. Then if he’s not ready he starts to feel like he’s behind schedule.”

Some bullet points for a Holy Experiment Day:
Continue reading

Zack Greinke removed from first Cactus League start with right calf injury.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Zack GreinkeDodgers right-hander Zack Greinke was removed from his first Cactus League start Thursday afternoon three pitches into the game with a mild right calf strain.

“It felt like nothing really,” Greinke said. “There was something there. Stuff like that will happen all the time, then the next pitch it’s gone. This time the next pitch, it wasn’t gone and it took a little while. Usually if you walk it off it goes away, but it didn’t go away. So that was kind of the thing that was different.”

Greinke needed one pitch to retire leadoff hitter Tony Campana on a fly ball to left field. The next batter, Cliff Pennington, took a ball and a strike from Greinke before head athletic trainer Stan Conte visited the mound. Conte and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly watched Greinke take a couple practice pitches and discussed the situation before Greinke walked off on his own power with Conte.

“The first (warmup pitch) that I threw, I didn’t really push off with my leg and it was fine,” he said. “I’m sure I could’ve pitched a whole game not pushing off during the season but right now it’s a risk/reward. I say I’m sure I could’ve — maybe I couldn’t have. The one pitch that I didn’t push off on, I didn’t feel it too much. Then the second one I tried to push a little bit more and I did feel it.”

Chris Withrow came in from the bullpen to finish the at-bat with Pennington.
Continue reading

Carl Crawford scratched from Dodgers’ lineup against the Arizona Diamondbacks as a precaution.

Carl Crawford

Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford will miss Thursday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Associated Press photo)

There were a couple early-morning changes to the Dodgers’ lineup Thursday.

Carl Crawford was removed as a precaution with tightness in his upper right leg. Crawford said that his hamstring was “a little tight” Wednesday, “just the whole day.” The 32-year-old outfielder had an adventure in the field, overrunning a fly ball in the first inning that fell for a triple, and also scored from first base on Yasiel Puig‘s third-inning double.

Crawford said his hamstring felt fine Thursday morning and that he wouldn’t be restricted from anything other than playing in the game. Last year, Crawford missed 30 games with a strained left hamstring.

Manager Don Mattingly said that the issue is with Crawford’s quadriceps muscle and not his hamstring; Crawford had the entire upper leg wrapped after Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Diamondbacks. Regardless, Mattingly said that Crawford would get another day off Saturday and potentially return to the lineup Saturday when the Dodgers play the Milwaukee Brewers.

Catcher A.J. Ellis reported to camp with the flu and was sent home. “He didn’t look great,” Mattingly said. Ellis is expected back Friday.

Zack Greinke is scheduled to throw two innings and the starters are expected to play five. The game is set to begin at 1 p.m. (noon Pacific) from Camelback Ranch. Here are the lineups for both teams:

Dodgers Diamondbacks
Dee Gordon 2B Tony Campana CF
Andre Ethier CF Cliff Pennington 2B
Hanley Ramirez SS Chris Owings SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B Mike Jacobs 1B
Yasiel Puig RF Matt Tuiasosopo RF
Mike Baxter LF Jake Lamb 3B
Juan Uribe 3B Shelley Duncan DH
Tim Federowicz C Danny Dorn LF
Alex Guerrero 2B Tuffy Gosewich C
(Zack Greinke P) (Randall Delgado P)

Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks announce lineups for Cactus League opener.

The Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks have announced their lineups for Wednesday’s Cactus League opener at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. The game begins at noon Pacific (1 p.m. in Arizona) and will be televised on SportsNet LA.

Thanks to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com for snapping the Diamondbacks’ lineup.

Dodgers Diamondbacks
Chone Figgins SS A.J. Pollock CF
Carl Crawford LF Aaron Hill 2B
Yasiel Puig RF Paul Goldschmidt 1B
Juan Uribe 3B Martin Prado 3B
Joc Pederson CF Mark Trumbo LF
Scott Van Slyke 1B Miguel Montero C
Tim Federowicz C Matt Tuiasosopo DH
Alex Guerrero 2B Gerardo Parra RF
Justin Turner DH Cliff Pennington SS
(Clayton Kershaw P) (Brandon McCarthy P)

Times for Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks games in Sydney, Australia revealed.

Sydney baseball logo

I don’t know if this is news, but … since the game times for the Dodgers’ 2014 season-openers in Sydney against the Arizona Diamondbacks are still listed as “TBD” on both teams’ websites, some of you might have missed that the times are listed here on mlbsydney2014.com, which appears to be an official website.

First pitch for the season opener on March 22 is listed as 7:15 p.m. local time, which is 10:15 p.m. the night before if you’re watching from Los Angeles. First pitch of Game 2 is listed as 1:15 p.m. Sydney time, or 4:15 p.m. March 22 in L.A.

All things considered, that’s not too bad — better than waking up at 4 a.m. to watch live World Cup matches, if you’ve ever experienced that joy.

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:

Continue reading

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:
Continue reading

Dodgers clinch National League West title and first playoff berth since 2009, beating Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6.

It’s been expected since Day 1. Even more since Sept. 1.

Now it’s official: The Dodgers are going to the playoffs.

A.J. Ellis broke a 6-6 tie with a solo home run off Josh Collmenter in the eighth inning, lifting the Dodgers to a heavily anticipated win over the Arizona Diamondbacks to clinch the National League West title.

See the game-winning home run for yourself:

It’s the Dodgers’ first playoff berth since 2009, when they won 95 games and the division before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series.
Continue reading

Dodgers 9, Arizona Diamondbacks 3.

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez scores one of his three runs Tuesday in the Dodgers’ 9-3 win. (Associated Press photo)

When the book is written on the Dodgers’ 2013 season, the period of time between Sept. 4 and Sept. 16 must be given its own chapter. It’s the part where the Dodgers re-visit the concept of mortality for their own amusement, playfully goading their opponents’ egos at the expense of nervous fans. Juan Uribe became a cleanup hitter, Edinson Volquez started three times and the Dodgers lost a game 19-3. Funny chapter, you’ve got to admit.

Well, maybe.

It was taken on faith Tuesday that Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig were all healthy. They were in the starting lineup, at least. Kemp, making his first start since July after spraining his ankle and tweaking his hamstring, played center field but did not approach full speed. Neither did Ramirez, who missed four games due to symptoms of sciatica. Puig’s hip was such an unknown factor just two days ago, manager Don Mattingly said the rookie phenom might miss one day to two weeks — then used him as a pinch-hitter the same night. Andre Ethier, whose left ankle is in a protective boot, was allowed to take a day off.


Continue reading

How Don Mattingly decided to pinch run Dee Gordon on Tuesday night.

Dee and Didi

Dee Gordon stole second base as a pinch-runner in the 10th inning of the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.


Dodgers manager Don Mattingly second-guessed his own decision-making in the 10th inning Tuesday.

With Adrian Gonzalez on first base and Andre Ethier stepping to the plate with two outs, Dee Gordon was available to pinch-run off the Dodgers’ bench. The slow-footed Gonzalez stayed on first base while Josh Collmenter threw two balls to Ethier. Then Gordon came jogging out to pinch run.

What was the manager thinking?
Continue reading