It’s not fair to compare Frias directly to Zach Lee, the former first-round draft pick who just finished the season at Albuquerque. They’re two different pitchers with two different repertoires. Lee turned 23 on Saturday. Frias is 24, but he’s been pitching in the Dodgers’ system since he was 17. Lee was a blue-chip high school quarterback recruit in Texas at the same age.
That said, only one of the two pitchers is here now. At the beginning of the season it wouldn’t have shocked anyone (at least, anyone who pays too much attention to the Dodgers’ farm system) if Lee were getting September starts. As it happened, Frias will probably start Wednesday at Coors Field — and maybe twice more, a lofty assignment for a rookie on a team chasing a playoff spot.
So what happened to Zach Lee?
A simple yet obvious bookkeeping error resulted in a forfeit loss for the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate. Here’s the full text of a Pacific Coast League release explaining why:
The Pacific Coast League has announced an official change to the result of the July 9 game between the El Paso Chihuahuas and Albuquerque Isotopes. The game, which had been suspended due to rain and completed the following day, ended in a final score of Albuquerque 7, El Paso 6. However, that has now been declared an El Paso victory by way of forfeit.
Following the completion of the game, the Pacific Coast League determined that a 26th player was improperly added to the Albuquerque roster prior to the game. Major League Rule 2(c)(2)(b) stipulates the active roster limit for Triple-A teams is 25 players. The violation occurred as a result of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Isotopes major league affiliate, activating an Albuquerque player from the Disabled List without making a corresponding transaction to remove a player from the Triple-A club’s Active List, which was already at the 25-player limit.
Thus, the game becomes a forfeit in the favor of the El Paso club and corresponding adjustments will be made to the teams’ respective won/loss records. Per the Official Baseball Rules, even though the final score will now be listed as a 9-0 El Paso win, individual and team statistics from the game, including runs scored, will count in the official records. However, the pitching records — win, loss, and other — will be erased.
More to come as we get it.
The Dodgers have seen 15 runners thrown out on the basepaths this season. That’s two fewer than the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals in a statistical category that no team wants to lead.
Yasiel Puig is single-handedly responsible for seven of those misfortunes, tied with Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte for the MLB lead. Puig was doubled off first base in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader in Minnesota. Umpire Tim Welke had a good look at the play from his vantage point at second base. Welke had an even better look at this play in the night game (from Yahoo.com):
With one out, Puig beat out a chopper up the middle that second baseman Brian Dozier threw in the dirt to first base. Chris Colabello couldn’t pick it and the ball hopped past him, with catcher Yosmil Pinto backing up the play. After he ran through the bag, Puig sharply turned his head to the right to check for the ball’s location. It was evident from Puig’s body language that Puig wanted to take an extra base, but when he saw Pinto with the ball, he applied the brakes. If Puig’s left shoulder began to dip toward second, the rest of his body actually leaned right. He never left the baseline, never crossed the foul line. He stopped, turned around clockwise (that’s away from second base), and started walking back to the bag like an innocent man who just had hit an infield single.
When Pinto tagged Puig, Welke signaled that Puig was out. Was that the right call? Judge for yourself.
The Yahoo! article suggested that Welke “seemed to be looking for a reason to call Puig out.” Without interviewing Welke, a veteran of 29 major-league seasons and the crew chief last night, it’s impossible to know that for sure.
Psychology tells us that there might have been a very real phenomenon at work. It’s called the confirmation bias and we’re all susceptible to it at some point, on some level. Reading further into the well-sourced Wikipedia entry on the topic, “even if people gather and interpret evidence in a neutral manner, they may still remember it selectively to reinforce their expectations.”
A player who’s already been thrown out on the basepaths six times in a month (Puig) can be reasonably expected to make the same mistake again. Puig’s mistake in the first game might have reinforced that expectation for everyone in the ballpark, including the second-base umpire. Given a split second to make his call at first base in the second game, Welke could easily have fallen prey to confirmation bias. That’s not an opinion — that’s a real possibility, reinforced repeatedly in scientifically valid experiments. Welke might not have been aware of a possible confirmation bias at work in his own mind. Even if reporters were given the chance to interview him after the game, the interview might not have cleared up the question.
Here’s what we do know: The more outs he runs into, the more Puig hurts his chances of getting the benefit of the doubt in situations like the one Thursday night in Minnesota.
Thursday was still a good day for Puig on the whole. The Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN) said that Puig is the first Dodgers player to reach base eight times in a doubleheader since Bill Buckner against the Giants in 1976.
This is a rough map of all the Mexican restaurants in Rancho Cucamonga.
Julio Urias is waiting.
On March 15, after he pitched a scoreless inning against the San Diego Padres — something Brian Wilson couldn’t do last night — Urias still didn’t know where he would begin the regular season. At least the Dodgers’ prized pitching prospect had no trouble identifying the hardest part of being uprooted to the United States at 16.
“It wasn’t really hard except for the food,” he said in Spanish. “The food was probably the hardest part for me.”
Fortunately for Urias, now 17, there are many options in the neighborhood of the Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate in the California League.
In case you’re counting at home, that’s four of the club’s top 10 prospects (per MLB.com) playing in one spot, about an hour east of Los Angeles.
Urias, Anderson and Windle all finished last season with Class-A Great Lakes, and each saw action in one Cactus League game. The Dodgers drafted Anderson and Windle in the first and second rounds of the 2013 draft, respectively, out of college. Urias was signed as a free agent out of Culiacan, Mexico.
Stephen Fife, the scheduled starter Friday, isn’t even at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers told Fife to stay home after he was vomiting Friday morning. Zach Lee, the 22-year-old right-hander who’s never pitched a game above Double-A, is starting in Fife’s place.
“The decision was made more that you (don’t) really want to bring a guy that’s been throwing up into the locker room,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “The next thing you know you’ve got a whole club like that.”
Saturday’s starter in Anaheim for the Freeway Series finale is still to be determined. Mattingly said that either right-hander Matt Magill or right-hander Dan Haren will get the start, and that both will pitch at some point in the game.
The Dodgers’ roster will be supplemented by minor leaguers Magill (#36), C Tim Federowicz (#26), RHP Sam Demel (#38), RHP Zach Lee (#64), RHP Red Patterson (#78), C Jose Capellan (96), INF Miguel Rojas (#72), INF Corey Seager (#94), INF Darnell Sweeney (#87), OF Joc Pederson (#65), OF Trayvon Robinson (#90) and LHP Tom Windle (#97).
Here are the lineups for both teams:
Apropos of nothing — the time in Sydney, the time in Los Angeles, my newspaper’s deadlines — I’m checking in with one last update before boarding a flight to Australia.
The Dodgers play the Australian National Team tonight in Sydney. It’s their last exhibition game before beginning the regular season on Saturday (1 a.m. Pacific Time/7 p.m. Sydney Time). Manager Don Mattingly named Zach Lee will start the game.
Here’s how the Dodgers will line up:
The sticker shock of the quality of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lineup quickly wore off, then reversed course.
With a lineup slim on quality major-league talent — Didi Gregorius batted third and Mike Jacobs, who’s played 20 major-league games since 2009, hit cleanup — the Diamondbacks scored nine runs in six innings en route to a win in their last meeting with the Dodgers before Opening Day.
Zack Greinke allowed three runs, Zach Lee allowed four (three were earned) and Chris Perez allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning out of the bullpen. J.P. Howell, Chris Withrow, Kenley Jansen and minor-leaguer Romulo Sanchez combined to throw 3 ⅔ scoreless innings of relief.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Spring training games begin Sunday for the Dodgers’ minor leaguers, who have been relegated to intrasquad scrimmages and games against France to keep their competitive juices flowing.
At some point, the “baby Dodgers” will get a boost from Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, Paul Maholm and/or Zack Greinke. That would appear to be the plan for the pitchers who aren’t starting a game in Sydney, Australia — i.e., everyone not named Clayton Kershaw or Hyun-Jin Ryu.
“They’ll continue to stay on schedule,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Tuesday. “We’re going to try to keep those guys regular as best as we can. That would be the plan: To keep them as steady as possible.”
There will be 10 days off between the Dodgers’ final Cactus League game Sunday against the Colorado Rockies and the first Freeway Series game against the Angels. That’s a lot of down time for a starting pitcher to fill. Mattingly said the non-Sydney starters will get their work in competitive situations, not bullpens, so the minor-league fields are the logical landing point.
The Dodgers must select 30 players who will be on the plane to Sydney no later than Sunday. That’s when the plane leaves. Twenty-five will be on the active roster by Opening Day. Of the remaining five, one will be a pitcher who starts the exhibition game against the Australian national team a week from Thursday. That pitcher will be one of three players who’s allowed to be on the team’s 25-man roster March 30 in San Diego, but who isn’t allowed to be on the 25-man roster for the two games in Australia.
An example of how that might work: Haren starts the Dodgers’ minor-league game Sunday on regular rest. He could then pitch against the Australian National team Thursday — remember, that’s a 7 p.m. game Sydney time, so it’s only 17 hours shy full rest. On March 25, he’s back in Arizona pitching a minor-league game. He could then get the Opening Day assignment against the Padres on March 30 and start the Dodgers’ home opener against the San Francisco Giants on April 4, both on regular rest.
That’s not necessarily the plan — just one way to do it. Substitute Haren with Beckett or Maholm, and you’ve got another plan. (You’ve also got six starters, with the question of whether Greinke begins the season on the 15-day disabled list, but that’s another matter.) These are the types of conversations taking place behind closed doors in camp right now.
“We’re talking about how we’re going to use the exemptions and the roster in a way that makes the most sense for those two games and also for all of us going forward,” Mattingly said. “Ned (Colletti, the GM) and his guys have spent a lot of time on it. We go back and forth. We’re just trying to figure out the combination of guys that we need really, to put our roster together for the season. Figure out those two games and starting in San Diego at the same time.”
I talked to Beckett and Maholm about the unusual schedule and what it means for their preseason preparation. More from them later.