Critics are suddenly calling his $42 million contract “a steal.”
So why, again, should Yasiel Puig begin the regular season in the minor leagues?
Hyun-Jin Ryu ranked 42nd and Yasiel Puig 47th on Baseball America’s annual list of the top 100 major-league prospects.
One other thing that sets the two apart is that they’ve never taken part in spring training in the United States before this year. On Monday, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti shared his thoughts on how the two have adapted so far:
After he was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow last September, his next throw was limited to 50 mph on a closely monitored radar gun. Within months, gradually increasing his velocity and his number of throws, Billingsley was delivering pitches at 90 mph.
“You have these certain points where we’re going to test the ligament, testing our arm,” he said. “Each time I passed with flying colors.”
Don Sutton will be the fourth and final bobblehead given away during the 2013 season, the Dodgers announced today.
The mini-Suttons will be nodding yes on June 6. The 7 p.m. game that night against the Atlanta Braves is a three-star game under the Dodgers’ new pricing plan.
The other bobblehead giveaways this season include Hanley Ramirez on April 30 (vs. COL), Matt Kemp on May 14 (vs. WAS), Jaime Jarrín on May 25 (vs. STL), Sandy Koufax on June 27 (vs. PHI), Adrian Gonzalez on July 11 (vs. COL), Vin Scully on July 25 (vs. CIN), Hideo Nomo on Aug. 10 (vs. TB), a “flag saving” Rick Monday on Aug. 27 (vs. CHI) and Magic Johnson on Sept. 12 (vs. SF).
It’s the first-ever bobblehead for Sutton at Dodger Stadium, who was given the royal treatment in 2007 in Milwaukee. Sutton was a Brewer for two-and-a-half seasons and a Dodger for 16 – from 1966 to 1980 and again in 1988. He still owns several franchise pitching records, including wins (233), starts (533), games (550), strikeouts (2,696), innings pitched (3,814.0) and shutouts (52).
Which defunct San Francisco ballpark, and which former National League MVP’s reputation, are getting blown up? Read on …
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter is expected to miss the entire 2013 season and may be forced to retire due to a series of injuries.
The 37-year-old was bothered by a nerve issue in his shoulder that limited him to five games last season. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Carpenter currently has health concerns in his right shoulder, arm and neck.
Significantly for the Dodgers, who have a surplus of starters one week before pitchers and catchers are expected to report for spring training, the GM added that he’s “comfortable” with his starting rotation as it’s composed. Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller are the right-handers; Jaime Garcia is the lone left-hander but he’s questionable to start the season because of an elbow injury.
Free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse went 16-3 for the Cardinals last season and would be a sensible replacement. If Mozeliak decides one lefty starter isn’t enough, he might end up calling Ned Colletti, who has two veteran southpaws (Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly) entering camp with no assurance of a spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Lilly has health concerns too – he’s 37 and hasn’t pitched a major-league game since May 23 of last year – and is coming off arthroscopic shoulder surgery in September.
The circumstances seem ripe for a trade, but it will hinge on both GM’s sense of urgency. Publicly, Colletti and Mozeliak say they’re in no rush to resolve their rotation situations, but we’ll see if that changes.
Onto the links …
We’ll be writing a lot about Robinson this year. The 66th anniversary of his major-league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers is April 15. Three days earlier is the planned release date of “42,” the biopic starring Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. You can view the trailer here.
In light of this week’s news about a Miami-based PED lab that claimed several major-leaguers as clients, I’ll take this space to point out that Robinson was neither a drinker nor a smoker – let alone a juicer.
An often-overlooked local landmark is the plaque commemorating Robinson’s boyhood home at 121 Pepper Street in Pasadena. (There’s no home there now, just a plaque, as the home was torn down in the early 1970s.) Feel free to leave a present there today. Or a doodle.
Lots of links today:
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.
Clayton Kershaw threw a normal bullpen session prior to Tuesday’s game in San Diego and cleared himself to pitch “as soon as possible — tomorrow.”
The Dodgers won’t let Kershaw start on two days’ rest, but Kershaw’s upbeat evaluation was certainly good news for a team in search of a late-September miracle in their playoff chase. Kershaw’s return to health from the pain in his right hip is becoming a minor miracle of its own.
“I have no medical reasoning for why it feels good now and didn’t feel good before,” he said.
Manager Don Mattingly said that he would meet with general manager Ned Colletti on Tuesday night for a final decision on Kershaw’s next start. They seem to be leaning toward letting Kershaw to start on regular rest Friday against the Colorado Rockies.
“Everybody’s OK with the decision, what we’re thinking,” Mattingly said, “but it’s just a matter of making sure Ned’s involved with it, everybody else is involved with it.”
Kershaw said that he stopped doing lower-body lifting in the gym, but that’s been the only change to his between-starts routine.
“Everything’s been totally normal,” Mattingly said. “He’s doing everything that he would do after any other start throughout the course of the whole season. I saw him in the lobby yesterday and he’s like, ‘when am I pitching again?’ ”
Mattingly did allow for the possibility that Kershaw wouldn’t pitch if the Dodgers are out of playoff contention by Friday. In the worst-case scenario, the Dodgers would be six games out of the final wild-card spot with six games to play if they are swept by the San Diego Padres, and the Cardinals beat the Houston Astros in their next two games.
Kershaw has pitched 211.2 innings this season and 649.1 in the past three seasons combined.
The Dodgers and general manager Ned Colletti have agreed on a multi-year extension, according to CBSsports.com.
The report comes one day after Colletti said that manager Don Mattingly would return in 2013.
Writes Jon Heyman:
Colletti’s old contract called for mutual options after this season, but a new deal was being discussed for more than a week. …The new deal will be a multiyear arrangement. One person said it could wind up being for three years, though previous reports suggested two.
The Dodgers have yet to announce a new contract for Colletti. But since both Colletti and Mattingly have expiring contracts in 2013, it makes sense if the new ownership group would want both to begin the new season with a more certain future.
Ned Colletti was in a chatty mood Friday.
Did he sound dour? No. Philosophical? Yes.
So much so that it was easy to miss this nugget of wisdom, which the general manager dropped when he was asked if the Dodgers’ 5-12 stretch since Aug. 26 has caught him by surprise: “I try not to ever be surprised,” he said, “because I accept every day for what it brings.”
It’s easy to see where he’s coming from. One day, your cleanup hitter is James Loney. Next it’s Adrian Gonzalez. One day, you’re working for Frank McCourt. The next day, it’s Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson.