Dodgers 3, Colorado Rockies 3: Of course spring training ends in a tie.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu threw 5 1/3 innings and allowed one earned run in his final Cactus League start. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Dodgers ended the Cactus League portion of their season the only appropriate way: With a tie.

The Colorado Rockies scored a run in the seventh inning off Chris Withrow, tying the game 3-3, and the Dodgers’ final game in North America until March 27 ended in a tie. It was the Dodgers’ fifth tie in 21 exhibition games, giving them a final spring training record of 6-10-5.

Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 ⅓ innings. Not unusually, he encountered the most trouble early.

Charlie Blackmon led off the game with a single but was picked off the bag. In the second inning, the Rockies got back-to-back singles by Matt McBride and Charlie Culberson. Both runners advanced a base when Ryu’s pickoff throw to second base got away from everyone for a throwing error.

The second inning ended on a dramatic double play — for a minute. McBride, trying to score on a sacrifice fly to right field by Jordan Pacheco, was out at home plate on a nearly 300-foot throw by Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig. Rockies manager Walt Weiss challenged the call. One television replay clearly showed that Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis missed McBride on his tag attempt. The umpires don’t always have the same vantage point when reviewing a call in Cactus League play, but the crew correctly overturned the call.

The Dodgers players had all retreated to the dugout after the apparent inning-ending double play. They filed back onto the field, Ryu made a couple warm-up tosses, then got D.J. LeMahieu to pop out on one pitch.

Adrian Gonzalez‘s single through a drawn-in infield scored Carl Crawford with the Dodgers’ first run. With Gonzalez on first base, Juan Uribe hit an RBI to the left-center field gap, scoring Gonzalez with the go-ahead run.

In the fifth inning, Gonzalez hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to drive in Ryu and pad the Dodgers’ lead. Ryu drew a walk to lead off the inning against Jordan Lyles and Carl Crawford followed with a single up the middle. Right-hander Bruce Kern relieved Lyles and allowed a single to left field by Hanley Ramirez that loaded the bases. Gonzalez’s fly ball to center field was plenty deep for Ryu to tag up and score without a throw.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Ryu gave up a solo home run to Nolan Arenado on a 2-2 fastball at the knees, bringing the Rockies within 3-2.

Chris Perez, J.P. Howell and Kenley Jansen didn’t allow a run out of the bullpen.

The Dodgers finished with a cumulative attendance of 114,402 in 12 home dates at Camelback Ranch for an average of 9,534, the highest average attendance since the team relocated Spring Training to Arizona in 2009. Last year, the Dodgers drew 133,460 in 17 home dates (including one WBC game) for an average of 7,851.

The box score is here.

Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Hyun-Jin Ryu to follow, Dodgers announce.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw will start his fourth consecutive Opening Day, the Dodgers announced Sunday. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

The Dodgers announced Sunday, finally, that Clayton Kershaw will be their Opening Day starter in Sydney, Australia on March 22. Hyun-Jin Ryu will pitch the March 23 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kershaw has started every Opening Day for the Dodgers since 2011. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2011 and 2013. Last year, he won his third consecutive National League earned-run average title (1.83) to go along with a 16-9 record and a league-leading 232 strikeouts.

Even though he was the obvious choice in the middle of another injury-free (albeit ineffective) spring training, Kershaw’s status was still up in the air until Sunday. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly repeatedly declined to name his starters for the two games in Sydney, saying only that he was preparing four pitchers to start the games until Zack Greinke suffered a mild right calf strain in his Cactus League debut.

That left Kershaw, Ryu and Dan Haren as the obvious choices to start the two games.

The Diamondbacks previously announced that left-hander Patrick Corbin will start Opening Day in Sydney and right-hander Trevor Cahill will start the second game.

Ryu was outstanding as a 26-year-old rookie, going 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA in the first year of his six-year, $36 million contract with the Dodgers. He’s allowed two runs in two Cactus League starts.

Kershaw has been downright bad in the early stages of spring, but that’s become typical for the 25-year-old. In his first two starts, Kershaw has pitched just four innings and allowed eight runs. Opponents are batting .368 against him. Last spring, Kershaw went 2-3 with a 4.18 ERA.

Because the Dodgers don’t play another game for another four days after the Sydney series, the season-opening rotation is difficult to predict. Expect Haren, Greinke (if he’s healthy), and Josh Beckett and/or Paul Maholm to get some work in during the Freeway Series against the Angels on March 27-29.

The Dodgers’ first game in North America is March 30 in San Diego.

Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds reveal lineups for rare night game.

The Dodgers will play their first Cactus League night game — one of three on the schedule — at 6 p.m. Pacific Time against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Stadium. Hyun-Jin Ryu will make his second spring start against right-hander Homer Bailey.

As manager Don Mattingly indicated yesterday, Dee Gordon is in center field for the first time all spring. Carl Crawford is the designated hitter one day after playing left field for the first time since he strained his right quadriceps muscle on Feb. 26. Alex Guerrero is back at second base, and Matt Magill, Paco Rodriguez, Javy Guerra and Jose Dominguez are scheduled to pitch in relief.

Here are the starting lineups for both teams:
Continue reading

Dodgers 5, Chicago White Sox 0.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu threw two scoreless innings in his first Cactus League start Friday. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A 0-0 pitchers’ duel through six innings turned in the Dodgers’ favor on a two-run home run in the seventh inning by Joc Pederson. Pederson ripped into a 2-2 pitch from Jake Petricka, showing some impressive opposite-field power in lifting the ball high over the left-field fence.

The Dodgers tacked on three more runs in the eighth inning. Dee Gordon walked and stole second base, then scored on an RBI double by Mike Baxter. Clint Robinson followed with a two-run home run that provided the final score.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, making his first Cactus League start of 2014, did not allow a run in two innings. Brian Wilson, Kenley Jansen, Chris Perez, J.P. Howell, Jamey Wright and Matt Magill finished the game with seven shutout innings. The White Sox were limited to three hits and three walks.

The box score is here. Some more notes:
Continue reading

Daily Distractions: The Dodgers love Australia! (Sure they do.)

Dan Haren

Clayton Kershaw (left) and Dan Haren (right) figure to be on the plane to Sydney, Australia to begin the 2014 regular season. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A scrum of reporters was gathered in one corner of the clubhouse Monday, surrounding a player with questions that had nothing do with Sydney, site of the Dodgers’ regular-season opener March 22. Once the questions and answers stopped, the player tacked on three words with a poo-eating grin: “I love Australia!”

Earlier, pitcher Dan Haren was asked about being on a short list of pitchers who might start one of the Dodgers’ season-opening games against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“Which answer do you want, the politically correct answer?” Haren said. “I think Stan (Kasten, the Dodgers’ president) would probably like me to give the politically correct one.”

The fallout from Zack Greinke‘s candid comments about beginning the season in Australia was ringing loud and clear in the clubhouse Monday. Greinke told ESPN.com Saturday that “I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for (the trip). There just isn’t any excitement to it. I can’t think of one reason to be excited for it.”

Haren wouldn’t go that far. He has orders not to. But he articulated a few more practical concerns about the trip Monday.

“Going over there, it’s going to be tough but we have to think of the games as real regular-season games. We have to turn the switch on,” he said. “In regards to the actual trip, it’s going to be a lot to handle, especially for the starting pitchers making the trip. But are we really complaining about flying a charter plane, staying at a hotel, all-expenses paid? I really don’t want to be complaining about it.

“That’s a lot to ask for the players, but I think everyone understands why we’re doing it. We’re trying to build the brand, I guess. We just have to welcome it I guess.”

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has not said who will start the two games. He’s said that five starters might be too many to bring for two games, so the top four — Clayton Kershaw, Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Haren — figure to be on the plane.

“We don’t really know who’s pitching or anything yet,” Haren said. “It would really stink to fly 30 hours and not pitch, I guess. I really don’t know what my role is going to be there.”

Kasten said Sunday afternoon that he had not been approached by organizers of the Australia games. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that this might change.

Haren doesn’t want to give the Australians anything more to complain about, and not because he fears a public booting.

“I’m new on the team,” Haren said. “I only have a one-year contract.”

Some bullet points for a Mexican Flag Day:
Continue reading

Dodgers’ intrasquad game is in the books; Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez make some noise.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed home runs to Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez in the first inning of the Dodgers’ intrasquad game on Sunday. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez hit home runs against Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first inning of the Dodgers’ 4-inning intrasquad game Sunday at Camelback Ranch. Those accounted for all the runs in a 3-1 victory for Team Wills (drafted by Matt Kemp) over Team Koufax (drafted by Zack Greinke.)
Continue reading

Source: Dodgers have expressed an interest in free agent Suk-Min Yoon.

The Dodgers are among several major-league teams that have expressed an interest in free-agent pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, a source told the L.A. News Group on Wednesday.

Multiple teams have recently reached out to Yoon’s agent, Scott Boras. The Baltimore Sun reported today that the Orioles are one of “several” teams that have extended an offer. It’s unknown if the Dodgers are in that group, or how competitive their offer is.

The Orioles and Texas Rangers are reportedly the front-runners for the 27-year-old right hander. Both teams have starting rotation vacancies to fill, and Yoon has told reporters that he prefers to start.

Yoon is a three-time KBO All Star and 2011 MVP who starred in the 2009 World Baseball Classic for Korea. He announced his intention to pursue a major-league contract after going 3-6 with a 4.00 earned-run average for the Kia Tigers in 2013.

Yoon missed the beginning of the year with a shoulder injury and split the season between the bullpen and the rotation. According to the Korea Times, Yoon throws a “solid” slider among four pitches. He is the consensus best pitcher in Korea, after Hyun-Jin Ryu signed with the Dodgers in December 2012 and posted a strong rookie season.

With Josh Beckett expected to be healthy from the start of camp, the Dodgers appear to have a set five-man rotation already. Beckett missed most of last season with thoracic outlet syndrome. Right-hander Chad Billingsley is expected to return from Tommy John surgery as early as June and give the Dodgers six proven starters.

In addition to Yoon, the Dodgers have also had conversations with starter Bronson Arroyo.

Hyun-Jin Ryu elaborates on his weight loss.

Hyun-Jin Ryu isn’t familiar enough with American cliches to say that he’s in the best shape of his life. Truth is, he might be close.

“I’m definitely lighter, more fit than I was at this time last year,” he said, but he wouldn’t say how much he weighed. Last year, Ryu was listed at 255 pounds.

Ryu said Friday that he came into camp “underprepared.” He elaborated a bit at the Dodgers’ FanFest on Saturday, saying that contract negotiations with the Dodgers — which dragged into the final hour before the Dec. 2013 deadline — delayed his off-season training regimen.

A couple other nuggets from Ryu’s press conference Saturday:

• “Last year was the first time my breaking balls weren’t working so I’m going to work on that early this year.”

• He’s leaving for spring training later today after FanFest. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report next weekend.

• His Super Bowl pick: “The better team will win.”

Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu isn’t taking spring training lightly.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu said he started training two weeks earlier this season after feeling “underprepared” his rookie year. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff photographer)

Hyun-Jin Ryu made a lasting impression early in his first major league spring training. He finished last in a conditioning run among the Dodgers’ pitchers — by a large margin.

Friday, Ryu pledged to be better.

“I realized I was underprepared,” he said through an interpreter. “I came two weeks earlier (this year). I feel like I should be better prepared when the season starts.”

Underprepared mentally or physically? “Both,” he said, “but mostly physical.”

Ryu said he hasn’t been dieting per se. He’s listed as 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds, same as a year ago. He’s been encouraged not to eat his way any higher on the scale. Ryu doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“Naturally during spring training we all lose weight,” he said.

Whatever Ryu did last year worked: In addition to a 14-8 record and 3.00 ERA, he finished the season with 192 innings pitched, first among major-league rookies. His 30 starts were second only to Clayton Kershaw on the Dodgers.

Ryu might prefer the word “durable” to “heavy,” but there’s no reason both can’t be accurate.

“As always I try to go for double-digit wins and a low ERA,” he said, “but I want to get through a full season without any injuries.”

Daily Distractions: Don Mattingly, Dodgers are reportedly close on a contract extension, and the timing makes sense.

Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly and Ned Colletti might have a more pleasant news conference in the near future than their last one. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff photographer)


If the Dodgers and Don Mattingly reach agreement on a contract extension this week, the timing actually makes sense.

According to multiple reports Monday morning, the two sides are finally close to a contract that would keep Mattingly on the bench beyond this year. (His contract is set to expire at the season’s end.) It just so happens that Mattingly is in town for the Dodgers’ annual prospect camp. When he isn’t in town, Mattingly is more likely to be found on a farm in Indiana, or a college basketball game.

He mentioned all the way back in November that the Dodgers had begun talks on an extension, and that there was “no rush” to complete the deal. Two months later, with Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti talking to the prospects, this seems like a logical time for the two to wrap up their own discussions.

As we mentioned last week, Mattingly’s status was going to be a burning question unless an extension was completed before spring training. That it’s taken this long to complete could simply be a reflection of Mattingly’s preference as he went about his usual off-season routine. It could also be a reflection of the complicated nature of manager’s contracts, which are not as uniform as player contracts.

Either way, this appears to be one storyline we can put to bed soon.

Lots of bullet points today:

Continue reading