Hyun-Jin Ryu got the star turn in the media today. I likened him to a circus performer, the way he’s calmly and confidently performing these acts of non-pitching prowess under pressure. Here are three things about Ryu that I didn’t include in my story for today’s papers:
1. He’s really broken up about not pitching for South Korea in the World Baseball Classic. “One thousand percent — I really wanted to play in the WBC. But I felt obligated to the L.A. Dodgers,” Ryu said through an interpreter.
2. Ryu might have let Don Mattingly beat him at ping pong. “In their country it’s not polite to beat the manager, and he wanted me to tell him that,” pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “He couldn’t tell him but I could tell him.”
3. What did Sandy Koufax tell Ryu to do differently with the curveball? “Deeper into my hand,” Ryu said. “Instead of pushing with my thumb, deeper so then I can let the ball come out” over the index finger.
Jackie Robinson was born 94 years ago today in Cairo, Georgia. To commemorate the occasion, Google baked a birthday cake with 94 candles on top made Robinson the “doodle” on its home page today.
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.
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.
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. Continue reading →
Adrian Gonzalez was on the field at Petco Park Tuesday, a couple hours before first pitch, when a crowd of roughly two dozen onlookers screamed his first name in unison. They were all wearing the same thing,navy-blue collared shirts and dark gray slacks that revealed their status as Petco Park employees.
Maybe each of them had a personal memory of Gonzalez, maybe not, but it was a nice moment emblematic of Gonzalez’s personal relationship with San Diego.
“We’ve just got to focus on winning,” Gonzalez said on the eve of his first game here since he was traded to Boston in December 2010. “But I was born here, grew up here, and so there’s definitely a lot more connection.”
When he came to the plate in the first inning, the reception was more lukewarm, a mix of boos and cheers from a typically small crowd. Many of those cheers came from Dodger fans.
But Gonzalez said before the game that the reception didn’t matter. San Diego is still home — literally –and he spent the Dodgers’ off-day Monday with his wife and daughter. “We went down to Chula Vista,” he said. “Had some really good tacos.” Continue reading →
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.”
Adrian Gonzalez’s first game against the Padres as a Dodger on Monday inspired a bit of soul-searching in San Diego. Not from Gonzalez himself — he called it “just another series” — but from the local media, which is taking advantage of this series to look both forward and backwards.
The Union-Tribune sent its sports enterprise reporter to Dodger Stadium recently, as did a San Diego radio station. Jay Paris of the North County Timestoday came to grips with the unfamiliar sight of Gonzalez in (Dodger) blue:
It’s still difficult accepting that Gonzalez exited San Diego in the prime of his career. …But that is dirty water under the bridge. He’s a Dodger, like it or not Padre Nation, and will be for a long time.
Carlos Quentin was scratched from the Padres’ lineup for Monday’s game against the Dodgers because of irritation in his right knee.
Quentin was originally scheduled to bat fourth and play left field. He’ll be replaced in left by Chris Denorfia, who bats fifth, while Yonder Alonso moves from fifth to fourth in the batting order.
The longtime Chicago White Sox outfielder has been on something of a tear since Aug. 18. Since then, he has a .969 OPS with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 13 games, including an eight-game hitting streak during that span.
Quentin has no hits and one walk in three career plate appearances against Dodgers starter Joe Blanton.
Denorfia has hit .135 (13-for-96) in his career against the Dodgers.
The Dodgers announced Monday that Mark Sweeney was leaving his post as a special assistant to pursue another opportunity in baseball.
Although no official announcement has been made, Sweeney is expected to become the San Diego Padres’ television analyst this season. Tom Krasovic (formerly of the San Diego Union-Tribune) was the first to report the news on his “Inside the Padres” blog Saturday.
The reason no announcement has been made is that the Padres are changing broadcast affiliates, to Fox, but the deal hasn’t been formally approved. (Yes, there’s an unfortunate Frank McCourt connection.) The North County Times recently called it “the worst kept secret in town.” Basically, Fox is lining up its talent and that includes Sweeney.
Sweeney joined the Dodgers’ staff following a 14-year major league career that ended in 2008.
The Dodgers edged the Padres, 7-6, in 13 innings today. For a full recap and boxscore click here.
THE BARE ESSENTIALS
- And that was a wild one. Entering the bottom of the ninth inning, the Dodgers were up 6-1 as Chad Bilingsley went for the complete game. Suffice to say, Billingsley — although he threw only 97 pitches and allowed only four of the 28 batters he faced to reach base — couldn’t get the job done, and neither could Jonathan Broxton. The Padres scored five in the ninth to tie the score.
- James Loney came up huge. He went deep to lead off the 13th against Padres reliever Edward Mujica, providing the only run the Dodgers would need in extra frames.
- Ronald Belisario and Guillermo Mota struggled a bit in the tenth, but the Padres put a couple of horrid at-bats and the Blue escaped a risky situation.
- The Dodgers had 18 hits. The Padres had six.
- Both Orlando Hudson and Manny Ramirez were out of the starting lineup, but each made appearances as a pinch-hitter. Neither reached base.
- Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked twice. Once in the 10th to set up a forceout, and once in the 13th with no one on base.
- The Dodgers have the day off tomorrow. They’ll have the day to spend in New York to prepare for what will surely be a circus, as they face the Mets Tuesday-Thursday. Clayton Kershaw (5-5, 3.49) and Mike Pelfrey (6-3, 4.26) are slated to start.
Manny, Orlando Hudson out of the lineup for today’s day game. Hudson is one of the Dodgers’ three All-Stars, as named today. Jonathan Broxton and Chad Billingsley also make the list, and Matt Kemp still has a shot to get in with the final vote or as a replacement for the likely-to-bow-out Carlos Beltran. Find out how to vote here.
Rubber game today.
A. Gonzalez, 1B
E. Gonzalez, RF
E. Cabrera, SS