April 2006

Managing History – Mark Langill

Jim Tracy today becomes the first ex-Dodger skipper to manage against his former team within one year of his departure since Leo Durocher in 1948. Durocher began that season with the Brooklyn Dodgers until July 16, when he was released by Brooklyn and became the manager of the rival New York Giants.

Chuck Dressen, who managed the Dodgers from 1951-53, returned to the National League as a manager with the Milwaukee Braves in 1960-61. Of the five Dodger managers between Dressen and Tracy, none managed in the Major Leagues after their respective tenures with the Dodgers: Walter Alston (1954-76); Tommy Lasorda (1976-96); Bill Russell (1996-98); Glenn Hoffman (1998) and Davey Johnson (1999-2000). 

A sunny day on the Allegheny

Lots of reunions down on the field today. It’s a little chilly, but the sun is out and PNC Park is ready for its Opening Day 2006.

It’s funny, we’ve hit so few homers this year that Grady said before the game he could actually remember the last four – Dioner Navarro yesterday, J.D. Drew back in L.A., Sergio Garcia’s walk-off shot on the last day in Vero Beach and Brett Tomko’s in Port St. Lucie during the second-to-last day of the Grapefruit League. At least we’ve all got a sense of humor about it, knowing that with a team that has Jeff Kent, Drew, Nomar and Jose Cruz, we’ll hit our share of homers this year.

Anyway, today’s lineup is: Furcal, SS; Repko, CF; Cruz, LF; Kent, 2B; Saenz, 1B; Ross, RF; Navarro, C; Martinez, 3B; Perez, P

Touchdown in Pittsburgh – Josh Rawitch

No, I’m not talking about Antwaan Randle El’s Superbowl pass…we just landed in Pittsburgh and it’s only 11 p.m. Not bad, considering there were two games today.

First off, kudos to the reader who noted the incorrect factoid on our last double header. We actually played one at the end of the ’03 season in San Francisco. We caught that mistake just before KCAL went on the air today, so hopefully no one got too confused. Still, double headers are pretty rare for West Coast guys like me, so keeping track of them is a little confusing.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have had great success here in Pittsburgh over the last six years, but Jim Tracy has now swtiched sides in this "rivalry," so we’ll see how that affects things. It will be an interesting series, as Trace made a lot of friends with the Dodgers over the years and we’re all looking forward to seeing him, John Shelby, Jim Lett and Jim Colborn.

In fact, it’s actually a little strange how similar the personalities of Trace and Grady are. They’re both extremely well-respected, down-to-earth guys who got to their positions through good old fashioned hard work. I feel privileged to have worked with both of them and I know I speak for a lot of people in the Dodger organization when I say that we all wish him and the Pirates well. Just not when they’re playing the Dodgers!

Freezing in Filly

It’s cold outside, but the sun is shining and as Ernie Banks would say, "Let’s play two."

Lineup for game one is the same as yesterday. Furcal, Cruz, Drew, Kent, Loney, Mueller, Repko, Navarro, Lowe.

For Game 2, Kent will get the game off and Martinez will play second base. Cruz will move to center field and Ricky Ledee will get the start in left field. Sandy Alomar Jr. will catch the second game of the double header.

Tomorrow, Grady said that if all goes as planned, Martinez will play third and give Bill Mueller the day off. J.D. Drew will also get the day off and Cody Ross will get the start, as will Olmedo Saenz in place of James Loney.

Here are some notes on double headers and Fernandomania.

DOUBLE DIP HISTORY – The Dodgers have not played a double header since Aug. 25, 2000 at Chicago when they won both games against the Cubs. The Dodgers’ last double header in Philadelphia was July 15, 1994 when the two teams split a twin bill at Veteran’s Stadium. In fact, splits seem to be the norm, as the Dodgers are 3-3-10 in their last 16 double dips.

SEEING DOUBLE – Though the Dodgers have not played a twin bill in more than five years, the phenomenon is not that rare. Since 1990, they have played 16 double headers, including three in 1991 and four in 1992. The 1992 double dips were due to the riots in Los Angeles from April 30 – May 3, which postponed a three-game series against Montreal and one game against the Phillies. The Dodgers proceeded to play four double headers in a span of six days, including three straight days against the Expos from July 6-8, 1992 at Dodger Stadium.

DOUBLE DUTY FOR NEWK – The last Dodger pitcher to start both games of a double header was Don Newcombe on Sept. 6, 1960 at Philadelphia’s Connie Mack Stadium. In the first game, Newcombe blanked the Phillies, 2-0. Newcombe pitched seven innings in the second game and received a no-decision in the Dodgers’ 3-2 victory.

…AND A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM – Today marks the 25th anniversary of the start of Fernandomania. On this date in 1981, Fernando Valenzuela made an Opening Day start in place of Jerry Reuss (both men are now Dodger broadcasters). Valenzuela responded with a complete game shutout and sparked an international phenomenon en route to a world championship. Coincidentally, that game came on the fifth birthday of another Mexican Dodger, Oscar Robles, who turns 30 today. Robles is 4-for-11 this year for Triple-A Las Vegas.

Minor League Update – Roy Smith

To answer some questions as to the whereabouts of some of our minor league players — John Meloan, a right-handed pitcher out of the University of Arizona from last year’s draft is in extended Spring Training rehabbing a sore elbow.

Pitchers Steve Johnson and Josh Wall are also in extended and are slated to be in the starting rotation at Ogden, our short season Single-A club. The same goes for Scott Van Slyke and Josh Bell, as they in extended and are awaiting the Short A season.

Some of our international prospects to be aware of at the Single-A level are left-hander  Alberto Bastardo, who we selected in the minor league phase of the Rule V draft; Mario Alvarez, left-hander Marlon Arias, Jesus Rodriguez, and Fernando Felix. These are all pitchers in Columbus to keep your eye on.

Blogging in the rain – Josh Rawitch

I was about to post during the rain delay when they decided to cancel today’s game and play it tomorrow as part of a double header. Same pitchers for Game 1. I can’t remember our last double dip, but rest assured, I’ll be looking it up for tomorrow’s game notes. In fact, one thing I can do on a daily basis is post a few of the interesting game notes that we come up with here on the blog, as there isn’t really a place for fans to find that.

So, before we catch the bus back to the hotel, here are some from today:

PENNY’S FILLY FINISHES FIRST – Dodger pitcher Brad Penny, who owns six thoroughbreds, enjoyed the fruits of victory last night when one of his horses won the fifth race at Santa Anita. Drastic Tactics, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, was a 7:5 favorite and she won the race by a length.

TALES FROM THE DODGER DUGOUT – A new book is on the market, written by Dodger broadcaster Rick Monday and MLB.com beat writer Ken Gurnick. “Rick Monday’s Tales from the Dodgers Dugout,” features interviews with Steve Garvey, Tommy Lasorda, Ron Cey and other Dodger greats from the 1981 Championship team. The Dodgers are celebrating the 25th anniversary of that team this year with various special events, including a celebration on Sept. 16 at Dodger Stadium, which will include members of that team.

AN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIR – When the Dodgers purchased the contract of Takashi Saito yesterday, it represented the 10th different nationality on the current Los Angeles club. The Dodgers now have players from the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Panama, Cuba and the Dominican Republic on the 25-man roster and disabled list.

DODGERS DONATE MONEY TO TAFT HIGH – Earlier today, the Dodgers Dream Foundation presented the Taft High School Baseball team in Woodland Hills, CA with a check to replace equipment that was stolen from their locker room. On hand at the check presentation were former Dodger Ron Cey and Sr. Vice President of Public Affairs Howard Sunkin.

Furcal's back in the lineup

If the rain lets up, which it’s supposed to, Rafael Furcal will be back in the lineup, leading off.

Furcal, SS

Cruz, LF

Drew, RF

Kent, 2B

Loney, 1B

Mueller, 3B

Repko, CF

Navarro, C

Lowe, P

How's this for a cool shot?

Prospect_shot_webDodger prospects Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Joel Guzman and Russell Martin of the Las Vegas 51s.

From Citizens Bank Park – Josh Rawitch

Eric’s surgery was a success, as you might have read by now. Dr. Jobe thinks he could be back in a game as soon as six week or as long as eight or maybe nine weeks, but the surgery lasted just about half an hour and they removed the nerve that was causing the problem. Overall, this is the best news we could have hoped for, given the situation.

Here in Philly, Rafael Furcal was a late scratch from the lineup due to a contusion in his right shin, suffered Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Jason Repko moved up to the leadoff spot, followed by Jose Cruz, Drew, Kent, Loney, Mueller, Ramon Martinez, Navarro and Tomko. In the first inning, Loney tripled for his first Major League RBI.

Furcal seems like he’ll be available to pinch-hit, but it certainly was strange walking into the training room about half an hour before game time and seeing three All-Star shortstops – Cesar Izturis, Furcal and Nomar – all getting treatment. The good news is, all three could be back at some point in the next month and there aren’t very many teams that can lay claim to having three All-Star shorstops in the lineup somewhere (even the Yankees only have two)!

Gagne update – Josh Rawitch

The morning coverage of Gagne’s injury pretty much tells you the full story behind the surgery. Check out the L.A. Times, Daily News, Orange County Register, Riverside Press Enterprise or dodgers.com if you are looking for an update. If any of you were watching Baseball Tonight last night on ESPN, you might have thought that his career was over, the way they were talking about it, but as you’ll read in any of the papers that cover us and were on the conference call last night, head trainer Stan Johnston characterized this surgery as less severe as the one he had last year. Still, until they go in and operate, we won’t have an idea of a timetable for his recovery.

The good news, though, is that the guys who got banged up on Wednesday night (Kent, Saenz, Loney and Furcal) all seem to be doing okay and available for tonight’s game here in Philadelphia.

Today we’ll get a chance to see Brett Tomko for the first time in a regular season game and it happens to be his birthday. That’s got to be a pretty cool thing to do – start a big league game on your birthday.

As for the front office people, we’re currently in the hotel getting through our usual work – answering emails, writing the daily game notes, handling interview requests, etc. We’ll head to the ballpark around 2:30 and then it becomes like any other home game for us.

On a sad note, I’m kind of disappointed that we won’t get to see Jimmy Rollins try and extend his hitting streak, which was snapped yesterday. It’s not every day you get to see history in the making and I was looking forward to watching him go for Joe DiMaggio’s record. So it goes…