Back in L.A., fans will get the chance to see something pretty close to the Opening Day lineup on KCAL 9:
Furcal, SS; Lofton, CF; Drew, RF; Kent, 2B; Garciaparra, 1B; Mueller, 3B; Cruz, LF; Borders, C; Sele, P;
What was interesting was our switch of today’s starting pitcher. Odalis Perez was scheduled to start, but Grady Little realized that Odalis is starting against the Braves in the third game of the season and he didn’t want them to get a good look at him right before they faced him for real. It’s "little" things like this that really do make a difference once the season starts and it’s "little" things like this that make me certain we hired the right guy in Grady. (Sorry for the bad puns, it’s early).
For today’s game at Jupiter, here’s what we’ve got: Oscar Robles, 2B; Ramon Martinez, SS; Joel Guzman, LF; Olmedo Saenz, 1B; Ricky Ledee, RF; Willy Aybar, 3B; Jason Repko, CF; Russell Martin, C; Brad Penny, P.
With the World Baseball Classic fresh in the minds of baseball fans, it’s interesting that today’s starting lineup features players from five different countries and Puerto Rico. Oscar Robles (Mexico), Ricky Ledee (Puerto Rico), Joel Guzman and Willy Aybar (Dominican Republic), Olmedo Saenz (Panama), Russell Martin (Canada) and Jason Repko and Brad Penny (United States) will all start today’s game. Starting shortstop Ramon Martinez was born in Philadelphia but resides in Puerto Rico, while the first six batters in the lineup are all native Spanish-speakers. Martin is fluent in French and English, having grown up in Montreal, Quebec.
Also, in response to one fan’s question about whether or not Nomar’s been getting enough reps at first, it’s safe to say he’s had plenty. He’s played 75 innings over there, more than any other Dodger this spring. That’s actually more than any other player at any position (Joel Guzman, who’s also learning a new position, is second with 73 innings in left field). Let’s hope that it translates to success during the year.
Though we still have five more days in Vero Beach, the huge truck that departs for Los Angeles will leave Dodgertown tomorrow at noon, so we packed up the office tonight, leaving only what we need for the last few days.
For the clubhouse attendants, this is a ton of labor and few people realize just how hard these guys work every day. Mitch Poole, Jerry Turner, Alex Torres and Jose "Peps" Castillo deserve a big time salute from everyone in the organization.
In the PR department, we had countless boxes of media guides from every team around the leagues, plus plenty of boxes of our own guides. But the biggest load was more than 200 dozen baseballs, which the players were kind enough to sign for various charities around the city. When the boxes were in my office, it practically filled the place wall to wall, so it feels pretty empty in here right now.
The NCAA tourney also brought some excitement to Dodgertown. Scores were being announced over the PA system at Holman Stadium all night and the Villanova/BC game that went into overtime was a huge hit in the clubhouse. Twenty-five players/coaches/staff members stuck around late to see how it would turn out and it didn’t disappoint, with a last-minute shot accounting for the win.
Of course, it was also a sad day at Dodgertown, as our minor league pitcher, Orlando Rodriguez was involved in a tragic car accident last night. Our hearts go out to everyone involved.
For tonight against the Marlins: Rafael Furcal, SS; Kenny Lofton, CF; J.D. Drew, RF; Jeff Kent, 2B; Nomar Garciaparra, 1B; Bill Mueller, 3B; Jose Cruz Jr. LF; Sandy Alomar Jr., C; Derek Lowe, P.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Opening Day…
Cody Ross was hit on the left wrist during last night’s game against the Mets at Port St. Lucie. He left the game after the first inning and returned to Vero Beach. X-rays were negative and Ross said this morning he should be OK. Ross is out of minor league options, so the Dodgers must decide his status this week. In 17 games this spring, Ross is batting .360 with four home runs and eight RBI.
We now have just a little over a week left in Vero Beach before we head west, which means that the process of getting our roster down to the 25 players we will have for Opening Day is in full throttle. Since in the course of my 15-year career I was sent down during Spring Training six times and sent down during the season three times, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on what it feels like.
The most important element to know is what the players know — there is nothing like the big leagues. Nothing even close. Being a big league player is what you dream about your entire life. The money, the lifestyle, the notoriety, the competition, even the pressure is intoxicating. When that is taken away, for whatever reason, it is a blow. In Spring Training, there are generally three types of players that are sent out. There are the young prospects like Andy LaRoche who are on the 40-man roster and are being optioned. There are veterans such as Joe Beimel who have previous big league service time with other clubs and have signed minor league contracts with the understanding that they will have the chance to make the big league team. The third is the Major League veteran who is older that either makes the team or is released. In all cases there is a severe sense of disappointment.
Even in LaRoche’s case where he is a young player with a bright future and without a great chance to make the team, there was disappointment. If nothing else, you now have to spend the rest of Spring Training on the minor league side of the complex, where the uniforms just don’t seem as white and the games are played in front of empty stands. Plus, you have to watch the big league team work out in the morning and while they are only feet away, it may as well be 1,000 miles. In the veterans’ case, it is a failed opportunity to get back to the big leagues, which is the ultimate goal. No one plays with the idea of making a good living in Triple-A. You play to play in the big leagues and in some instances, your window is closing. You know how different the big leagues are from the minors and your hunger to get back is even greater. But you also know that you better get over that disappointment quickly because your goal now shifts to being the first guy up when the season starts.
For today’s afternoon game against the Cards, we’ll have: Furcal, SS; Cruz, CF; Drew, RF; Kent, 2B; Guzman, LF; Choi, 1B; Aybar, 3B; Martin, C; Seo P
Last night was one of the unique experiences that this job sometimes affords us PR guys. After the game against the Marlins, I went to dinner with dodgers.com beat writer Ken Gurnick and our Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin. While I’ve gotten to know both of these gentlemen quite well over the years, it was the guests who joined us that made last night’s dinner a little different.
Ken Gurnick is longtime friends with Craig Kelly, who happens to be the U.S. Ambassador to Chile. Craig was in Miami for a conference so he joined us for dinner along with Colonel Jeffrey Smith, the Military Group Commander at the embassy in Chile. Needless to say, it was an interesting dinner, but what makes Craig different than most ambassadors is his passion for baseball and specifically, the Dodgers.
Craig grew up in Los Angeles and in his office in the embassy, he has a photo of the day he came to Dodger Stadium and spent an inning on the air with Jaime (he speaks five languages, incredibly). But he’s also one of the main reasons that baseball as a sport is growing in Chile.
When he arrived as ambassador there nearly two years ago, he and his wife, Kim, began starting Little Leagues around the Santiago area and their hope is that someday, that country will feed Major League Baseball the kind of talent that you see from the Dominican, Venezuela, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
On the embassy’s website, there’s some interesting articles about some Latin Little Leaguers who recently met George Bush. Even more impressive is an article written about Craig and Kim’s efforts to bring baseball to Chile.
Craig also mentioned that the ambassador in Argentina is a big Dodger fan, so both men now have their own copies of the Dodger media guide to bring back to South America.
Safe to say, the global reach of Dodger baseball never ceases to amaze me.
Here is the Dodgers’ starting lineup for tonight’s game vs. the New York Mets at Port St. Lucie:
Rafael Furcal, SS; Kenny Lofton, CF; Nomar Garciaparra, 1B; Ricky Ledee, LF; Sandy Alomar Jr., C; Bill Mueller, 3B; Cody Ross, RF; Oscar Robles, 2B; Brett Tomko, P.
Ballplayers taking their leads from first base … "chalk talk" sessions in the dugout … taking hacks behind home plate during soft-toss batting practice … pregame stretching in the outfield … a series of pitchers warming up in the bullpen.
Ordinary scenes from Spring Training in March, but on this evening at Holman Stadium, the ballplayers were actually participants at the 5th Annual Ladies Spring Training at Dodgertown.
A large staff of Dodger coaches and prospects assembled to stage a series of baseball clinics on the field, followed by a postgame meal in the picnic area behind the left-field grandstands at the ballpark. You’d be surprised to find how many "post-collegiate" athletes still brought along a glove and were ready to run the basepaths, at least from first to second base. Coach Tarrik Brock and minor league catcher Eric Langill gave signals and alternated between pickoff moves and pitching motions toward home plate to challenge the runner’s decision when to dash from the base.
Other Dodger instructors included Mac Singleton, Fernando Arroyo and Ramon Martinez. The minor leaguers were T.J. Nall, Derek Thompson, Heath Totten, Joel Hanrahan, Xavier Paul, Matt Paul, Brandon Carter and Wesley Wright. Los Angeles coach Dave Jauss also participated, along with staff members of the Dodgers’ SIngle-A Vero Beach affiliate from the Florida State League.