The move would come as no surprise. The Dodgers wouldn’t move Van Slyke from first base to both corner outfield positions –- right field on Tuesday, left field on Wednesday — if they weren’t getting him ready to give Andre Ethier and/or Carl Crawford a day off.
The Dodgers would have to make a roster move to add Van Slyke to the 40-man roster. Since he’s not on the 40-man, the Dodgers would technically be selecting his contract rather than recalling him from Triple-A. Moving Chad Billingsley, who’s out for the season following Tommy John surgery, from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list would do the trick.
He leads the Senior Circuit in batting average (.464), on-base percentage (.531), is tied for fourth in OPS (1.246), tied for eighth in runs (8) and seventh in stolen bases (2).
Less than 10 games into the season, we can cherry-pick a few more eye-raising stats.
Three Dodgers – Mark Ellis (4.83), A.J. Ellis (4.67) and Andre Ethier (4.32) – are among the top eight in pitches per plate appearance. The Mark McGwire effect? Maybe. Adrian Gonzalez is seeing the seventh-fewest pitches per plate appearances in the NL, 3.30, tied with some kid named Bryce Harper. Yet somehow Gonzalez has more walks (4) than strikeouts (3) this season.
As for Ethier, who turned 31 yesterday, he’s batting .429 against left-handed pitchers and .182 against righties. His lefty-righty splits were .222 and .325 last year.
On the flip side, Matt Kemp‘s batting average is .167.
Clearly, the guy doesn’t belong in the big leagues.
Here are some bullet points for a Thursday morning:
Vin Scully’s 64th season as the voice of the Dodgers will not see the 85-year-old broadcaster reduce his workload.
With the exception of five dates on the Dodgers’ first homestand, when he had a bad cold, Scully announced every Dodger game in California and Arizona on KCAL (Channel 9) and Fox Sports Prime Ticket last season. He’ll follow the same schedule this year. That had been the plan all along; it was formalized Monday with the announcement of the Dodgers’ 2013 broadcast schedule.
But will he be in New York when the Yankees play the Dodgers June 18 and 19?
On a back field, far from the Dodgers and Vin Scully (who was in Glendale to broadcast his first game of spring training), Mike Piazza and Team Italy were preparing for the World Baseball Classic at Camelback Ranch.
Piazza took a break from his duties as hitting coach to tell reporters that he had no regrets over what he wrote about Scully in his book “Longshot.” The former Dodgers catcher took plenty of heat for insinuating that Scully fueled the perception that, by setting a deadline to sign a contract extension in 1998, Piazza was being disloyal to the team.
The Dodgers announced that Prime Ticket will televise an additional four games this spring at Camelback Ranch: Feb. 25 vs. the Chicago Cubs, Feb. 28 vs. the Angels, March 7 vs. the Texas Rangers and March 18 against Arizona. Vin Scully will call all four telecasts, in addition to the KCAL 9 games on March 17 vs. Milwaukee and March 26 vs. Colorado.
Six Cactus League broadcasts represent the most that Scully has ever called.
Some of the Dodgers’ position players are in camp one day early. That includes Justin Sellers, who this morning told reporters at Camelback Ranch that his recent arrest in West Sacramento was “a misunderstanding.” Sellers said he does not need to be present at his scheduled court date in March.
All the pitchers are in tow, including injured reliever Scott Elbert. The left-hander told reporters yesterday that he doesn’t expect to be back until May – not unexpected, since he had arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow Jan. 23 and Sept. 19, 2012. One catcher still hasn’t reported – non-roster invitee Eliezer Alfonso has been delayed by a family issue.
While you were putting the finishing touches on Thanksgiving leftovers over the weekend, Deadline.com reported the particulars of Fox’s latest proposal to retain the Dodgers’ television rights: Between $6 and $7 billion over 25 years.
That seems like a strong pitch, indicative of the Dodgers’ place in Fox’s local programming slate with no Lakers, no NFL (and for the moment, no NHL either). For the Dodgers, it represents a significant increase over the reported $39 million Fox will pay for TV rights in 2013, the final year of the current contract. Yet it may not be enough to sway Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, whom Deadline reports is the lone negotiator for Guggenheim Baseball Management. The Dodgers could elect to start their own regional network, á la the Yankees or the Red Sox, but to do so means Guggenheim must turn down a profit margin of $4 billion-plus on the $2 billion it paid for the club earlier this year.
The exclusive negotiating window between Fox and the Dodgers closes in four days.
Vin Scully can make room for one more trophy in his case.
The Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster will be presented with the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s Allan H. “Bud” Selig Executive Leadership Award at the Foundation’s 10th annual “In The Spirit of the Game” Sports and Entertainment Spectacular at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on Jan. 12, 2013. Selig will present Scully with the award.
Scully has won a few awards since calling his first Brooklyn Dodgers game in 1950. In 1982, The National Baseball Hall of Fame awarded him the Ford Frick Award. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association has named him National Sportscaster of the Year three times (1965, 1978, 1982) and he has been awarded the title of California Sportscaster of the Year 29 times. He was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2009. In that same year, the American Sportscasters Association named him the Top Sportscaster of All-Time.
By the rules of our study, anyone with a microphone who used a pronoun like “we,” “us” or “our” to describe the home team was given a citation. Obscure pet names for players were also flagged: The Detroit Tigers announcers, for instance, referred to backup catcher Gerald Laird as “G-Money.” Additional penalties were given for things like excessive moping after miscues or unrestrained glee after big moments. (A Miami Marlins broadcaster marked the end of a lengthy scoreless drought by screaming “Hallelujah!”)
It didn’t take long for the study to confirm what many baseball observers have long expected. During the White Sox game–a 2-1 win against the Texas Rangers–Harrelson and Stone (but mostly Harrelson) made a whopping 104 biased statements.
To put that in perspective, the Cleveland Indians duo of Matt Underwood and Rick Manning ranked second with just 23 biased comments and 24 of the 30 teams had fewer than 10.
Vin Scully rocked back into his windup on the Dodger Stadium mound, arms high overhead, emulating Christy Mathewson (or Paul Byrd, if you’ve never seen grainy film or photos of Christy Mathewson), ready to unleash a southpaw splitter. Suddenly, Scully stopped mid-delivery.
The 84-year-old broadcaster-turned-hurler walked from the mound to the third-base line, where his grandchildren were lined up in a row. He handed the baseball to the first of his progeny, who handed the ball to the next one, right on down the row until the ball came back to grandpa. Scully, back on flat ground, barely wound up before delivering a 45-foot strike to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly at home plate.
And that’s how Vin Scully’s first ceremonial first pitch of the season got to home plate Thursday night.
“Squeeze the juice out of life before life squeezes the juice out of you,” he said, quoting a famous phrase. “Well, I’m squeezing.”
It’s not every day that the entire Scully clan shows up at the ballpark, but it’s not every day that the first 50,000 fans in attendance get a Vin Scully bobblehead. In fact, it’s never happened before Thursday.
“One of the reasons is the 50th anniversary of the ballpark,” he said. “If they ask me (this year) I’m going to have more problems explaining why I didn’t do it than why I did.”