May 2006

Names to know

It seems that a lot of people on this blog are interested in hearing more about our minor league guys, so I’m going to try and give a brief update each morning on one of our prospects and how he did the night before.

For today, it’s Justin Orenduff, who came to camp with us this spring. Last night he pitched 7.0 innings for Double-A Jacksonville and allowed just two hits and one earned run with six strikeouts to earn the win. He’s now 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA. Also, Brad Cresse, the son of former Dodger bullpen coach Mark Cresse, went deep twice in the game and drove in seven runs.

Meanwhile, you’ve also said you guys enjoy the behind the scenes look at things. Here’s an interesting article by Bob Nightengale in the USA Today about how locker assignments are decided upon throughout MLB.

Today's game

First off, the lineup for today:

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Drew, RF

Kent, 2B

Aybar, 3B

Ethier, LF

Martin, C

Penny, P

Second, if you like to eat (and who doesn’t?), you’ve got to check out Tommy Lasorda’s blog in which he just listed all of his favorite restaurants around the country. I went to Fior di Italia with him last week in SF, so I can attest to these being some pretty good places for grub.

Third, we’d like to extend our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Dodger scout Mike Brito, who had both knees replaced today. We’re hoping he’ll be back on his feet again soon.

And finally, with the American Idol finale airing tonight, our game notes have a reality TV theme to them, so for your enjoyment, they’re pasted below. Don’t ask me why I did this, as I never actually watch reality TV or any TV, for that matter.

FEAR FACTOR – In his last eight games, Jeff Kent is batting .440 (11-for-25) with two homers and seven RBI. Kent has hit 31 homers against Colorado in his career, the fifth-most among all active players according to STATS, Inc. Last night, he logged his 482nd double to tie Brooks Robinson for 60th place all time. He also registered his 1,341st career RBI, tying him with Gary Gaetti for 73rd place all-time.

THE REAL WORLD – The Dodgers lead the National League in runs scored with 242, nine more than Atlanta. After hitting .372 (54-for-145) with 16 walks in the last four games, Los Angeles also leads the NL in on-base percentage (.357) and is tied for the lead in hits (420) and stolen bases (42). The team ranks second in walks (197). Their .272 team average is third best in the National League.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, BULLPEN EDITION – Dodger relievers Jonathan Broxton and Joe Beimel pitched 2.0 scoreless innings last night and in the last eight games, the Dodgers’ relief corps has a 2.25 ERA (5 ER/20.0 IP).

THE AMAZING RACE – Kenny Lofton has stolen 18 consecutive bases without getting caught dating back to Sept. 16, 2005, the longest streak in the Majors, according to STATS, Inc. He scored two runs on Sunday to give him 1,384 runs in his career, surpassing Tony Gwynn for 82nd place all-time. He is two behind Lou Whitaker for 81st. 

SURVIVOR – Nomar Garciaparra is the only first baseman in the National League with at least 100 total chances and no errors. He has 264 chances over 27 games at first base without making an error, making him one of only seven first basemen in the Major Leagues with 250 or more errorless chances.

AMERICAN IDOL – Over his last 10 games, Nomar Garciaparra is 8-for-10 from the seventh inning through the end of the game. He is batting .392 (31-for-79) with three homers and 21 RBI in 16 games this month and in his career, he has enjoyed great success in May, batting .318 (185-for-581). Garciaparra has reached base via walk or hit in 16 consecutive games and has a multi-hit game in nine of his last 15 contests.

CANADIAN IDOL – When Russell Martin is behind the plate, Dodger pitchers have posted a 2.89 ERA (42 ER/131.0 IP). The Dodgers are 13-2 in Martin’s 15 starts this season.

HE’S NO “AVERAGE JOE” – Non-roster invitee Joe Beimel has helped anchor the Dodger bullpen by holding No. 3 and No. 4 hitters to a .211 average (4-for-19) with no home runs so far this season. Against All-Star sluggers Barry Bonds, Brian Giles, Luis Gonzalez, Lance Berkman, Morgan Ensberg, Todd Helton, Geoff Jenkins and Vladimir Guerrero, Beimel has allowed just two singles in 12 at-bats (.167).

THE APPRENTICES – The six Dodger rookies on the current 25-man roster have made huge contributions so far this season. Offensively, rookies Willy Aybar, Andre Ethier and Russell Martin have combined to hit .311 (41-for-132) with five homers and 27 RBI in 44 games. On the mound, rookie relievers Jonathan Broxton, Takashi Saito and Tim Hamulack have combined for three wins and a 3.18 ERA (18 ER/51 IP), one save and 62 strikeouts in 52 games.

STARTING OVER – Over their past 18 games, Dodger starting pitchers have made 12 quality starts and posted a 2.57 ERA (32 ER/111.2 IP). Overall, Dodger starters lead the NL with a 3.55 ERA (105 ER/266.1 IP) and are 18-8 this season.

Rocky Mountain News

Some of you might have seen this article but in case you missed it, another interesting piece was in today’s Rocky Mountain News. Though it didn’t really break new ground for die hard Dodger fans, this is the sort of article that you’ll see a national reporter like Jack Etkin write when the Dodgers come to town. So, when we were in Denver last week, Jack spoke to the various people in this article and summed up our last six to eight months.

This is also the reason why you’ll notice stories in the Daily News that usually have something to do with the team we just played. Tony Jackson writes a national weekly notes column and this past weekend it had to do with Coors Field and the cut in run production there.

Also, for you writers out there, the Daily News is running an online contest that gives you the chance to cover the Dodgers for a game at the end of the season. A pretty cool idea if you like to write.

And, while we’re at it, does anyone have any good suggestions for new chants at Dodger Stadium? While I love seeing the fervor of Dodger fans, I can’t help but think that we can come up with something better than "Angels ****" or "Giants ****." At least something a little more creative or family friendly, don’t you think?

Today's lineup

Furcal, SS

Cruz, CF

Saenz, 1B

Drew, RF

Kent, 2B

Aybar, 3B

Ethier, LF

Martin, C

Seo, P

Today's lineup

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Drew, RF

Kent, 2B

Aybar, 3B

Ethier, LF

Martin, C

Lowe, P

Also, a pretty nice article today by Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times about the Dodgers and Angels.

Today's lineup

Just got finished with Grady Little in his morning briefing with the media. There’s undoubtedly a positive vibe with the team this morning for obvious reasons, but Grady pointed out a very important thing. He told the media that one reason the team has been doing so well lately (10 out of the last 13) is because they’ve adopted the belief that "yesterday doesn’t mean anything." Whether we win or lose, today is a new day and I certainly think that an attitude like that goes a long way.

Other updates include Eric Gagne throwing a bullpen session today. He’ll throw live BP again on Monday and start a rehab assignment next week. Jason Repko, though, could be out for another month, according to Grady, as his ankle sprain has not healed as well as we had hoped. Ricky Ledee is getting closer and so is Dioner Navarro, but both guys will need rehab stints in the minors before getting in a big league game.

Grady also stated the obvious by saying that you can’t ignore what Russell Martin has done up here and that it would be extremely difficult to send him down to the minors when Navarro comes back. Obviously that’s still a little while away, though. As for Drew’s absence in the lineup, it’s just a day off.

Today’s lineup:

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Aybar, 3B

Ethier, LF

Cruz, RF

Martin, C

Tomko, P

Nothing like breaking a record

25 hits in a night. Hard to believe we haven’t done that in Los Angeles…ever.

What a night for Andre Ethier, who asked me before the game if he could get field passes for his four family members that were in town from Arizona. I can’t imagine a more proud moment than getting to watch your son, nephew, brother, etc. get five hits, a sacrifice fly, a home run and throw a runner out from the outfield. Andre told me after the game that he rembered a six-hit game in college and a 10-for-10 double header in junior college. Wow.

We got the lineup card from tonight’s game, plus the ball that went for the 25th hit and they’ll go in the Dodger archives, which will hopefully be displayed someday at Dodger Stadium.

Today's lineup

Furcal, SS

Cruz, CF

Nomar, 1B

Drew, RF

Kent, 2B

Aybar, 3B

Ethier, LF

Martin, C

Sele, P

Carter recalled

You guys are the first to find out that we’re bringing Lance Carter back up and have optioned Franquelis Osoria back to Las Vegas. Lance was 1-1 with three saves and a 1.08 ERA for the 51s and seems to have gained his control back.

Meanwhile, I just got back from Universal Studios Hollywood, where Derek Lowe and "Sweet" Lou Johnson spent time with some youngsters, signing autographs and giving pitching lessons to the kids. One of them earned the right to throw out the first pitch at an upcoming Dodger game, which must be pretty cool if you’re a kid.

And for those who hadn’t heard, all kids 14 and under that come to tomorrow’s game get a free ticket to Universal Studios Hollywood as part of our new agreement with the theme park.

Lineups to follow in a couple hours. I’ve pasted a couple interleague notes below and congrats to Graham Clancy at the University of Oregon, who realized that I had hidden a code in yesterday’s blog in honor of the opening of The Da Vinci Code. He won four field level tickets to an upcoming game and I might try and do more interactive stuff like that on the blog, if you guys are interested.

INTERLEAGUE BATTLE – Tonight marks the start of Interleague Play and the Dodgers enter the game with a 75-71 (.514) all-time mark against the American League.

INTERLEAGUE PITCHER’S DUEL – Tonight’s starter, Aaron Sele, is tied with Mike Mussina for second all-time in Interleague victories with 18, one behind Greg Maddux. His opponent, former Dodger Jeff Weaver, is tied for ninth with 14 wins. The duo makes up two of the 81 players in Major League history to have played for both the Dodgers and Angels.

On the road

With an off day today, it seems like the perfect time to answer the question that was asked earlier this week about what kinds of things travel with the Dodgers throughout a road trip.

First, I spoke with Dodger Clubhouse Manager Mitch Poole, who said that he brings about 9,600 pounds of baseball gear on every road trip and about 4,500 pounds of personal luggage. This does not include the approximately 1,500 pounds of television and radio equipment that goes with the team on every trip.

Before each trip, every player packs his own baseball bag, which includes two of their own jerseys, pants, bats, gloves, shoes, batting gloves, etc.

Included in what Mitch brings is two of each size BP top and uniform just in case we make a trade while we’re on the road. He also has more than enough actual uniform numbers in case of a trade or call-up.

For each player, he brings six new bats in addition to the six that they bring with them. He makes sure that he has enough batting practice hats, game-fitted hats, adjustable hats, t-shirts, dry fit shirts, long sleeves, fleeces, pine tar, weighted bats, resin bags and just about everything else we can think of that a guy might request on the road. His 9,500 pounds also includes all the medical supplies that our trainers bring with them on the road.

We bring one case of BP baseballs with us for each game we’ll play and the home team provides us with another one once we get there.

I also talked to team travel manager, Scott Akasaki, whose job it is to make sure all the flights are set, rooms are booked, buses are waiting for us at each point in the day and that the equipment truck gets where it needs to go. Scott also handles all ticket requests on the road for players and takes care of ordering all the food on the plane, as well as a ton of other daily tasks. He said that a typical flight includes about 65 people, which is usually about 27 players (including DL guys), a manager and seven coaches, four medical staff members, the video coordinator, the team travel manager, five broadcasters, baseball operations staff (either Ned Colletti, Kim Ng, Roy Smith or Bill LaJoie) a PR guy (either myself or Joe Jareck) and about 15 people who work on our radio and television broadcasts behind the scenes.

One benefit of traveling with the team is that the bus pulls up on the tarmac and we fortunately, we don’t have to deal with airports at all. There’s security at the bottom of the stairs to the plane and they do go through very strict measures, as Scott has said that 9/11 has had an effect on chartered flights, too.

I hope that answered some of your questions and that you can appreciate the jobs that some of the people in the organization get to do a little better than maybe you did before.

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