Dodgers 5, Texas Rangers 5: ‘Starters’ Paul Maholm and Seth Rosin star in another tie game.

Paul Maholm

Paul Maholm allowed three hits, one run, walked none and struck out four batters Saturday. (Associated Press photo)


SURPRISE, Ariz. — Based on how they’ve been used in the past and how they’ve pitched in spring training, Paul Maholm and Seth Rosin could both be in a major-league rotation this season. Yet if either pitcher makes the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster, it will probably be as a reliever.

That’s simply a function of where the numbers are right now; the Dodgers began camp with five healthy starters on guaranteed major-league contracts before bringing in Maholm and Rosin. Zack Greinke‘s mild calf injury aside, that hasn’t changed.

The 31-year-old Maholm has been a starter for his entire career, and he started Saturday. He threw more than 50 pitches — 41 in the first three innings of the Dodgers’ 5-5 against the Texas Rangers and another “12 or so” in the bullpen.

“I’m preparing for the season like I have for, I think this is my 11th spring,” Maholm said. “I’m going to try and get quick outs. The stuff with mechanics is stuff that you deal with during the season. I’m going to prepare and pitch whenever they tell me to. If I pitch well everything’s going to work out. I’m not concerned with roles or anything. You pitch well, they find a spot for you.”

Rosin is on a starter’s program too. The 25-year-old right-hander threw three innings (4, 5 and 6) while allowing only one unearned run before an announced crowd of 8,153 at Surprise Stadium. His third Cactus League appearance was easily his worst so far. He struggled with command, walking a batter and throwing a wild pitch, and also balked runners to second and third base in the fifth inning.

But he left the game with the Dodgers ahead 3-2. Rosin still hasn’t allowed an earned run in eight spring innings. He’s struck out 10 batters in eight innings and allowed only five hits.

“These guys are both being built as starters and right now that’s where we’re at,” Mattingly said, after declining to comment on the possibility that either would begin the season in the bullpen.

Continue reading

Dodgers 2, Texas Rangers 1: Zach Lee and Tom Windle offer a glimpse of the future.

Zach Lee

Zach Lee didn’t allow a run against the Texas Rangers in his Cactus League debut Friday. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Zach Lee came into camp hoping to make the Dodgers’ 25-man roster. Seriously.

The 22-year-old pitcher only reached Double-A last year, three years after the Dodgers selected him with the 28th overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft. Only a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle suffered early in camp forced Lee to temper his expectations.

By waiting until Friday to make his Cactus League debut, Lee knows he’s ticketed to the minors to start the season.

“Anytime you set a goal you want to set it high,” he said. “If you set it too low, you’ll probably meet it and get content with it.”

Lee pitched two scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday at Camelback Ranch. He allowed only two hits, walked none and had something to be proud of at the end of his long-awaited debut.

The right-hander from McKinney, Texas survived a loud leadoff double to Shin-Soo Choo — “a 2-1 fastball right down the middle that you don’t want to throw,” he said — to survive a 21-pitch first inning on consecutive ground-ball outs by Elvin Andrus, Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre.

After a smooth second inning in which he allowed a single to Jurickson Profar, Lee’s day was over. He faced eight hitters, almost all major leaguers, and did not look out of place on the mound.

“He just looks like he belongs around the clubhouse, around the fields. He does everything well,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s got a clean delivery. We feel like he’s going to be able to throw the ball where he wants. Just like in his composure — pretty much everything about him.”

Lee has a preternatural calm in the presence of almost anyone — reporter, major leaguer, minor leaguer. He said he’s tried to stay in the background like most rookies, while also trying to pick the veterans’ brains.

“I’ve talked a lot with (Josh) Beckett and (Zack) Greinke,” he said. “Probably Greinke a little more than Beckett from a baseball standpoint just because me and his game are kind of similar as far as our repertoire goes, how we pitch. It’s always good to get an outside perspective, especially with a guy who’s had the success he’s had and kind of the similar stuff we have and how we approach the game.”

Both pitchers share an analytical approach to baseball, something that impressed Dodgers management about Lee since his first days in the organization. Lee’s numbers in his second season at Double-A Chattanooga were better in almost every category in 2013, when he was named the organization’s pitcher of the year.

Lee took part in the Dodgers’ prospect camp at Dodger Stadium in January. Finally on Friday, he had a chance to show everyone what he’s gained since last season.

“Growing up, the way I looked at pitching, I was more of a cerebral, analytical person,” he said. “I really thought more kind of gameplanning and what (Greg) Maddux did back in the day, where he was able to pinpoint location rather than overpowering people. I kind of took after them and that’s where my game’s developed.”

Young power pitchers are often the first to reach the majors. The St. Louis Cardinals’ Shelby Miller, a 2012 draft pick who beat the Dodgers twice in last year’s National League Championship Series, is a protypical example.

Pitchers like Lee, who mix and match an assortment of pitches and rely more on location and guile, often take longer. This season marks his fourth in the organization and only his first major-league camp.

Lee said he threw all his pitches Friday and “some worked better than others.” For Mattingly, the first impression was a good one.

“I think that’s what you like about him: You see him around the clubhouse, the way he handles himself, gets after his work, does everything pretty well, takes fielding his position seriously, holding runners — all the things you don’t get a lot of attention for — but we like everything about him.”

Some more notes and observations:
Continue reading

Zach Lee, Dodgers square off against Texas Rangers.

The Dodgers have a chance to achieve a rare feat by hitting a grand slam in their third straight game today when the Texas Rangers visit Camelback Ranch.

Alex Guerrero hit one against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night. Scott Van Slyke hit a grand slam in Thursday’s 4-4 tie against the Angels.

Starter Zach Lee will be limited to about 30 pitches, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. Hopefully that gets him through at least one inning. If not, at least the Dodgers have plenty of reinforcements lined up in the bullpen.

Brian Wilson, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Chris Perez and Brandon League are all scheduled to throw. Tom Windle, the Dodgers’ second-round pick in the 2013 draft, is also in uniform along with fellow minor-league call-up Fu-Te Ni.

Windle (like 2013 first-round pick Chris Anderson yesterday) will be facing live opponents for the first time. The Dodgers minor-leaguers had an exhibition game against France. Otherwise, they have only seen live batters in batting practice and intrasquad contests.

Before the game, Mattingly said that Zack Greinke is scheduled to face live hitters tomorrow, likely on a minor-league field.

Chone Figgins will play right field, his seventh position of the Cactus League season.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for highly touted Rangers prospect Rougned Odor. He’s in uniform for the game (#73).

Here are the lineups for both teams:
Continue reading

Deadline recap: Rangers win Dempster derby

The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Dodgers will have to be satisfied with a haul that includes third baseman/shortstop Hanley Ramirez, outfielder Shane Victorino and relief pitchers Randy Choate and Brandon League.

Just as notable was one player they didn’t get: Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who went to the Texas Rangers for third base prospect Christian Villanueva and pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks.

Dempster, whose 2.25 ERA is second in the majors, would have instantly upgraded a rotation whose best right-hander is either Chad Billingsley or Aaron Harang, depending on the night. (Last night, it wasn’t Harang.) He also would have cost the Dodgers a pitching prospect they did not want to part with –Allen Webster and Zach Lee remain at Double-A Chattanooga.

Since he’s a free agent at the end of the season, the Dodgers could still go after Dempster in the winter.

The trade is another strike in the burgeoning arms race in the American League West, where the Angels stole headlines last week by obtaining Zach Greinke from Milwaukee. The Rangers also obtained Cubs catcher Geovany Soto in a separate deal last night.

It also points to August as an interesting month if the Dodgers want to obtain a starting pitcher through the waiver process.

Continue reading

Dodgers 5, Rangers 2.

James Loney, back in the lineup after being sidelined by a strained calf muscle, went 2-for-3 with his first home run of the spring in a 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers before an announced crowd of 11,082 at Camelback Ranch. [box score]

“James was out a couple days, came right back and looked exactly the same,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Seems like he’s confident. Should be an interesting year for him.”

Loney is hitting .357/..471/1.113 with four RBIs in four at-bats.

Juan Rivera and Juan Uribe also had two hits apiece as the Dodgers (8-3-2) started their expected opening-day lineup against the Rangers’ Greg Reynolds. The right-hander lasted three innings, giving up seven hits, four runs (four earned), walking one and striking out two.

Starter Ted Lilly allowed one hit — a triple — and no runs in four innings of work
against the Rangers. The left-hander struck out two, walked none and threw 27
of his 44 pitches for strikes.

Lilly said the results “were probably better than I threw the ball,” but the manager liked what he saw.

“His stuff is crisper right now than it was last year for sure,” Mattingly said.

Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert, Wilfredo Ledezma and Scott Rice threw scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Kenley Jansen allowed both Texas runs, on solo home runs by Brandon Snyder and Alberto Gonzalez.

A few more notes:

Continue reading