Yasiel Puig sits out against the D-backs with stomach ailment

Dodgers center fielder Yasiel Puig sat out Saturday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks because of a stomach ailment. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Joc Pederson, rather than Andre Either, would replace Puig.

“More than anything Yasiel is not feeling good today,” Mattingly said, explaining Puig’s absence from the starting lineup. “He’s going to have an IV. There’s something going on with his stomach, so we’ll see how that goes.

“It’s opportunity for Joc to do his thing. We don’t want to force him into the lineup or anything else. But it’s an opportunity for him. I think he has a chance to help us. It’s a great experience for him, more than anything. Hopefully, he can help us win some games.”

Pederson went into Saturday’s game hitting .222 (2 for 9) in his first four games in the big leagues after a stellar season in the minor leagues.

 

Why Erisbel Arruebarrena — who can’t swing — didn’t pinch run for A.J. Ellis earlier.

Erisbel Arruebarrena

Erisbel Arruebarrena was limited to pinch-running duties Wednesday because of a shoulder injury. (Getty Images)

In the 10th inning, when A.J. Ellis drew a one-out walk in a tie game, many of you chimed in on social media wondering why Don Mattingly didn’t pinch run for the slow-footed catcher.

Mattingly did use a pinch runner eventually, when the bases were loaded with one out. Erisbel Arruebarrena took Ellis’ place at third base, and barely had to move as Adrian Gonzalez and Juan Uribe struck out.
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About that Don Mattingly/Andre Ethier fight in the dugout Saturday.

Andre Ethier and Don Mattingly were arguing in the Dodgers’ dugout about something in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ 12-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday. Neither was forthcoming after the game about the incident. Ethier told reporters that the incident was “misinterpreted.”

Mattingly was more forthcoming about the incident Sunday, saying that Ethier didn’t want to come out of the game in the ninth inning. The manager won the argument in that sense.

Sunday, Mattingly said the two apologized to each other, first he to Ethier then Ethier to him.

“We’re good,” Mattingly said. “I think the greatest thing when you have guys like Andre, he can voice his opinion, I can voice mine, and the next day we’re adults.

“At the end of the day, we’re family.”

Matt Kemp is out of the Dodgers’ starting lineup for the fifth straight game. When will he return?

Matt Kemp Don Mattingly

Matt Kemp wasn’t in the Dodgers’nstarting lineup for the fifth straight game Tuesday. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)

Don Mattingly and Matt Kemp had diverging opinions Monday about Kemp’s health, and that storyline isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

However, the gap between the two might be eased if Kemp gets penciled in to the starting lineup. For the fifth straight day, that didn’t happen. Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig are manning the three outfield positions against the Cincinnati Reds.

Kemp said he took fly balls in left field Tuesday afternoon. When asked how long, he replied “doesn’t matter.” He wasn’t smiling.

Even the usually affable Mattingly got a bit testy when pressed about Kemp’s situation.
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Dodgers manager Don Mattingly leaves team due to a death in his family.

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Dodgers manager Don Mattingly left the Dodgers on Tuesday because of a death in the family. He’ll return Friday and bench coach Tim Wallach will manage the team in the meantime. The Dodgers host the Arizona Diamondbacks tomorrow and the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday at Camelback Ranch.

A team spokesperson confirmed the news late Tuesday afternoon, about 90 minutes after Mattingly addressed reporters following the Dodgers’ 7-5 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported the news first.

Baseball’s new instant replay system in play for Dodgers, Angels in Tempe.

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Dodgers and the Angels will have instant replay at their disposal for their first head-to-head Cactus League game of 2014. Managers Don Mattingly and Mike Scioscia are able to challenge one umpire’s call during the first six innings. In innings 7, 8 and 9 the umpires can initiate a challenge.

The camera angles at Tempe Diablo Stadium aren’t what they will be during the Freeway Series, when replay will be in use for the first time. But Prime Ticket is televising the game, so at least the teams won’t be at the mercy of an in-house video feed.

It’s the first replay game for the Dodgers and the fourth for the Angels. Scioscia has already thrown one challenge and lost; I asked him this morning if he’ll challenge for the sake of challenging — practice for the manager, practice for the umpire, practice for Nick Francona.

“You have to practice the logistics that’s for sure, but I don’t want to make a mockery of it,” he said. “If there’s a play that makes sense — I know the umpires are looking forward to the challenge, just so they can get their end of it worked out too.”

Here are the lineups for both teams:
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SportsNet LA releases details about its initial night of programming.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully will work the first Dodgers spring training telecast on SportsNet LA. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers announced the programming lineup for launch night of SportsNet LA, the team-owned network set to debut next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The evening will begin with “Access SportsNet: Dodgers,” followed by the inaugural episode of “Backstage: Dodgers,” back-to-back “Connected With…” interview shows featuring Clayton Kershaw and Don Mattingly and a one-hour retrospective special about last year’s season.

Among the other “prominent Dodger personalities” that will be featured that night are co-owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson, broadcaster Vin Scully, and special advisor Tommy Lasorda.

SportsNet LA is still attempting to find carriers in addition to Time Warner. As of right now, only Time Warner subscribers will be able to tune in when the network goes live. A spokesperson for the network said that the channel number still hasn’t been announced.

Here are some more details, provided by the team, about SportsNet LA’s debut-night programs:

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Daily Distractions: Dodgers infielder Miguel Rojas has a message for the protesters in Venezuela.

Miguel Rojas

Dodgers infielder Miguel Rojas is a non-roster invitee to spring training. He is closely monitoring the political protests in his native Venezuela. (Associated Press)

Miguel Rojas is watching the news reports from his native Venezuela closely. His wife, Mariana, lives about five minutes from the capital of Caracas. At least five have died in the course of the political protests that began Feb. 12 and turned violent not long thereafter. Here are some videos of the gunfire that erupted last night in Caracas.

“That stuff is pretty scary,” Rojas said Thursday, “because all my family is there.”

Rojas has seen the videos. He said his wife is fine, and she’s planning to fly out tomorrow morning.

“She told me in the afternoon is when things start getting bad,” Rojas said. “At night is when the motorcycles go out because they (the citizens) can’t recognize them.”

As much as anything, Rojas is frustrated by his own feelings of helplessness. At a time when independent news outlets have been muffled by the Venezuelan government, Twitter is soaring in popularity as a medium for protest. The government is trying to block images posted to Twitter from within the country.

Rojas isn’t on Twitter, but he has a message for his countrymen.

“I want to get my word to every Venezuelan guy in the street to keep doing that,” he said. “Make us feel like we can be proud of them, that everything’s going to end in a good way. I send my thanks to them because I can’t do anything right now.”

Some bullet points for a World Social Justice day:
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Daily Distractions: Why starting the season in Australia might give Don Mattingly headaches.

Don Mattingly Alan Trammell

The Dodgers’ early-season schedule has the potential to frustrate manager Don Mattingly, who isn’t above taking out his frustration on Arizona Diamondbacks coaches. (Getty Images)

So the Dodgers and Diamondbacks play two games in Australia a week before any other team begins its regular season. Does anything about this arrangement make Don Mattingly‘s job easier?

Maybe a little. If he wants to, the Dodgers manager can have reigning National League Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw start a game in Sydney, then the U.S. regular-season opener seven days later, then the Dodgers’ home opener five days after that. Again: if he wants to.

Things start to get tricky, um, everywhere else. Start with the bullpen.

“If you think about it,” Mattingly said Saturday at the Dodgers’ FanFest, “you’re going into two games in a row (in Australia), you’ve got to kind of save your relievers as you get into that. Then if you don’t use them, now it’s going to be a week or 10 days before they’re throwing in a (regular-season) game.”

As of right now, the Dodgers have exactly one game on their schedule between March 17-21, a time when many managers have the luxury of split-squad games to evaluate players pushing for the final spots on their 25-man roster. That one game is an exhibition against the Australian national team in Sydney on March 20. Two days later, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will celebrate Opening Day.

After the Dodgers play the D-Backs on the afternoon of March 23, they get four days off to fly back to Los Angeles and re-adjust to Pacific Time. All that time off down the road has a ripple effect on players’ routines. Pitchers are hit the hardest.

“These guys are having to throw bullpens before we even get to camp,” Mattingly said. “That seems like a rush to me.”

Don’t expect the three-game Freeway Series against the Angels, on March 27-29, to have the usual look of a “final audition” for roster spots — at least as relief pitchers are concerned. Mattingly said he’ll have to manage his bullpen with an eye toward the March 30 game in San Diego that counts in the standings.

The Dodgers’ position players can’t exactly treat the Freeway Series like an exhibition, either. In a usual year, Mattingly might use those games to rest his projected starting lineup. The quirky schedule makes this year different.

“Starting the season and then not playing for another eight days always bothers me,” Mattingly said, “because once guys turn that clock on, it’s hard to get them to play an exhibition game. That’s where you start to get bad habits. You start the season then it’s like these games don’t count. Guys, they know that. They know that game, the stats don’t count. I worry about bad habits during that period of time.”

The Freeway Series games are scheduled for March 27 and 28 at Dodger Stadium and March 29 at Angel Stadium.

Some bullet points for a Four Chaplains Day:
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Daily Distractions: Zach Lee, not the next Drew Henson, has no regrets about choosing baseball over football.

Zach Lee

The Dodgers and scouting director Logan White (right) lured Zach Lee (left) from LSU with a $5.25 million signing bonus in 2010. (Associated Press photo)

MLB.com had an interesting article today about some lesser known baseball-football connections, from Frank Thomas to Jake Locker to Jameis Winston and Russell Wilson.

Maybe the most interesting line in that piece was about Drew Henson. You might recall that Henson was a star quarterback at Michigan, succeeding Tom Brady in 1998, then tried his hand at baseball and even got in a few games with the Yankees after climbing the minor-league ladder. Then he retired, tried his hand at football again, and was relegated to being a backup most of his career. Writes Jim Callis:

I still think Drew Henson could have been a star in baseball had that been his focus — one evaluator I highly respect compared Henson’s skills to those of Mike Schmidt — but doubling as a quarterback ultimately meant he didn’t realize his potential in any sport.

Maybe the Dodgers should count their lucky stars that Zach Lee has no intention of becoming the next Drew Henson.

Lee, the 2013 organizational pitcher of the year, was once a highly recruited quarterback out of McKinney (Texas) High School. He chose to attend Louisiana State University, and did for a time, and was anointed as a savior of the LSU football program in at least one headline. (Actually, read those whole first two paragraphs again in italics: The heavens part and there, riding on the clouds comes a gift from the gods, or perhaps planet Krypton. Yes, he is the one we’ve been waiting for. Zach Lee. If only this picture came replete with angelic purple wings and a shiny golden halo to signify his immaculate arrival. Well, we hope so anyways.)

As recently as last April, the New Orleans media opined about what might have been with Lee. Does Lee ever wonder “what if?”

“I don’t have any regrets about what I did, the decision I made,” Lee said Wednesday. “It’s really kind of more now going back and reflecting on memories, reflecting on the great times I had with some of my teammates. Not necessarily the on-field stuff, but more the experiences you get out of it.”

Lee said he didn’t feel any “twinges” while watching the bowl games, including Monday’s BCS championship game, when Florida State beat Auburn.

“I’m kind of an analytical person,” he said. “So I analyze football as well as having a background in it. I was a little disappointed the SEC couldn’t pull it off, but it was a great game.”

Some bullet points for a Vodoun Day:
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