February 2007

Warming up in Vero Beach

I’m not sure if it’s the fleece I borrowed from the clubhouse or the fact that the sun came out, but it’s getting warmer here at Dodgertown. The first workout was today and it was great to see baseballs being thrown again at full speed, as I watched bullpen sessions from Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Brett Tomko and several other Dodgers.

Derek showed up this morning wearing a snow hat, which tells you just how cold it was early in the day, but by the time noon rolled around, it was much more comfortable.

There was a question about the mood here at Dodgertown and I’d have to say it’s extremely optimistic – probably more so than in any of the last few years that I can remember. People are excited to be here and position players are showing up early in hopes of impressing those around them and getting more work in. We’ve already seen Andy LaRoche, Wilson Betemit, Jason Repko, Matt Kemp, Wilson Valdez and Chin-lung Hu, all of whom are battling for either a spot on the team or a starting position. Juan Pierre is also here and from what I understand, he’s one of the hardest workers in baseball, so that didn’t really surprise me.

In terms of the mood regarding the likely move to Arizona in 2009, it doesn’t really seem to be affecting many people as far as I can tell. Honestly, it seems pretty far off and everyone seems far more focused on 2007.

I love the idea of a live webcam and will see if that’s feasible, but it could be tough just because everything is so spread out here from field to field. But it’s a good thought and I’ll see what others think about it over here.

Joining the blogging world in addition to the Kameneztky brothers at the L.A. Times and Tony Jackson at the Daily News is Diamond Leung, who is starting as our beat writer this year at the Riverside Press Enterprise. To read his blog, go here or check out the links on the left, where I’m adding all these as permanent links.

Also, as a side note, for those of you who haven’t heard, you can actually determine who the third bobblehead will be this year. Check out the fans’ vote to help pick the winner.

And finally, most of you have probably already read this on the site but in case you missed it, Ken Gurnick wrote an awesome article about non-roster invitee Matt White. Ken always has a way of finding a unique angle (remember Eric Langill’s story from last year?) and has also had a knack for picking a dark horse candidate early in camp. As an experienced writer and reporter, I really think Dodger fans are fortunate to have him giving up-to-the-minute news on a daily basis for MLB.com and dodgers.com.

And finally, there seems to be a ritual here in Vero Beach to see as many movies as we can see in the time we’re here. Last night, four of us saw three different flics and each got good reviews – The Last King of Scotland, Hannibal Rising and Music & Lyrics. So, if you’re seeking a decent film, those seem to be good choices.

The first day at Dodgertown

We’re settled in at Dodgertown today and though it’s very cold, everything else feels like spring has begun. The staff here always does incredible work to make sure that when we arrive, it feels like home away from home, so our sincere thanks go out to Craig Callan and his staff.

Every pitcher and catcher is now in camp, as Greg Miller was the last to make it due to mechanical issues with the plane he was on. Rich Donnelly also reported a little late due to flight issues, but everyone is accounted for and they all took their physicals today (not the coaches, of course).

Takashi Saito has been battling a little problem in his right calf, so he’ll take it easy the first week or so, but he expects no problems at all.

Jason Schmidt arrived a few days ago and has been settling into Dodger blue. It’s nice to see him in those colors rather than the orange and black.

As always, you can get some great Dodger information from dodgers.com and Ken Gurnick, who files in depth stories every day that are posted in real time. The LA Times has followed suit, so be sure to check out Steve Henson’s coverage during the day.

On the Daily News site, Tony Jackson has joined the blogging world and from what I understand, will be doing it regularly, so check that out, too.

Plus, for those who don’t want to read their Dodger news but watch it, Time Warner Cable’s Dodgers On Demand is the only station that will be here all spring, bringing you Dodger updates regularly, starting on Feb. 21. This is an awesome new addition and a must-see for true fans. I’ll have more info on it later.

That’s about it for now. I’m trying to add some photos but have had some issues posting them, but will try to fix that shortly.

Last day in LA

Hard to believe this is the last day I’ll be posting from Los Angeles for now, as we all leave in the morning. As you can imagine, everyone here is really excited to get back to baseball and we’re hoping that it is rubbing off on the fans.

To answer a few of the questions, first regarding DodgerTalk. I have passed your comments along to KFWB and they’ll do their best to address them. I can tell you that they are very serious about being a great partner to the Dodgers and while there are some unique difficulties that arise because they’re not a sports station, it’s not from a lack of effort. But all of these things are definitely part of our long-term thinking when it comes to radio and your thoughts are not falling on deaf ears.

As for Steve Lyons, he remains a part of the Dodger broadcast team when Vin Scully does not travel. He is also part of FSN Prime Ticket’s coverage and will be in Spring Training for their weekly television show. He’ll call a couple games from Vero Beach, too. Eric Karros is part of Think Blue TV, the pregame show that airs on KCAL 9 whenever our games are shown on that station.

As for the delay on radio, this is completely out of KFWB’s or the Dodgers’ hands, as the FCC has required this delay. Therefore, there aren’t any stations that do not have it and while I wish we could do something for all the fans who listen to the game inside the stadium, KFWB or other stations would be breaking the law if they didn’t have it delayed.

The season tickets and mini-plans should be mailed out in the next couple weeks, so thanks for your continued patience on that front.

And finally, I know how much you guys like minor league information, so I’m including the stuff below from the latest Baseball America. You can check out their website if you want more details, but please keep in mind this is just one opinion.

Top Dodger Prospects Entering 2007

1. Andy LaRoche

2. Clayton Kershaw

3. Scott Elbert

4. James Loney

5. Tony Abreu

6. Ivan DeJesus Jr.

7. Jon Meloan

8. Blake DeWitt

9. Josh Bell

10. Preston Mattingly

The next post will come from Dodgertown…

Two quick things…

A few things to check out when you get a moment. First off, Charley Steiner did an interview with bizofbaseball.com, which is available here.

Also, Marlon Anderson spent today in New Orleans with Chris Capuano, LaTroy Hawkins and the Major League Baseball Players’ Trust, where they announced that their organization would be donating $1 million to Volunteers of America to assist their efforts to build housing units for people left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.

And Tommy Lasorda gave a motivational speech to a local fire department, one of the many things he does on a daily basis that the public rarely hears about.

Going to the Wall

In this morning’s Los Angeles Times, Steve Henson writes an incredible piece about the Dodgers’ history in China and throughout Asia, with great quotes from Frank McCourt, Dodgers’ Director of Asian Operations Acey Kohrogi and Peter O’Malley, among others.  The article touches on a number of things the team has done over the years and ties it into the Yankees’ first trip to China.

27841932Steve also wrote a sidebar about who baseball’s Yao Ming will be, which is another interesting read.

As some of you know, the team has had roots all over the world since the 1950s, including Asia, Central and South America, the Dominican Republic, Australia, Russia, Ireland and countless other places on the globe. But I really think that because it’s not something that the casual fan sees, it’s also something that most people don’t realize. It’s stories like this that bring these efforts to the forefront and it’s these efforts that help the Dodgers land such talents as Fernando Valenzuela, Hideo Nomo, Chan Ho Park, Hong-Chih Kuo and Chin-lung Hu, among others.

And of course, this is not to ignore the efforts of the Dodgers and MLB in trying to find these talents at home, too. In yesterday’s Times, Helene Elliott wrote a piece that was also fantastic about the Urban Youth Academy in Compton. We stopped there for the caravan on Wednesdsay, so players like Nomar, Juan Pierre, James Loney and others got to interact with the youngsters on site. It’s at this academy and through the RBI program (Reviving Baseball in Innercities) where we signed or found players like Lyndon Poole and Trayvon Robinson, who we hope will one day be playing at Dodger Stadium. 

It’s really refreshing to see some great stories like this in the mainstream media, especially when you consider how the media has changed over the years to highlight the negative things that occur, not just in sports but in the world.

A great second day of the caravan

We’re back at Dodger Stadium and pretty tired after a long day of trekking from spot to spot around the city. We got to see a ton of Dodger fans at the Long Beach Aquarium, so thanks to all of you who came out to support the team. From what I hear, there were people lining up early this morning and the event was awesome.

We also got to stop at Nomar’s old high school and he was pretty floored at the reception he got there. Stops at an elementary school and MLB’s Urban Youth Academy were also very cool and I think all the players – past and present – who made it out today really seemed to genuinely enjoy being out in the community.

I’ll try to post more about this tomorrow, but it’s about time to call it a night. Be sure to check out the front of the site, which should have a story from Ken Gurnick (who was on the caravan with us both days) and a photo album of great shots from Jon SooHoo.

We leave for Vero Beach one week from tomorrow. Hard to believe.

The Other Say Hey Kid

He might not be Willie Mays, but we signed Joe Mays to a minor league contract with an invite to big league camp. As a former 17-game winner in the big leagues, he could be an interesting arm in the mix this spring.

As for the caravan, Day 1 was a tremendous success by all accounts. We’re hoping to see you all out there tomorrow!

Caravan starts today

We’ve got a great group of guys heading into the community today – Grady Little, Randy Wolf, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, Luis Gonzalez, Steve Garvey, Willie Davis and "Sweet" Lou Johnson.

There are a couple of stops open to the public, including Pasadena City College at noon and Speedzone in the City of Industry at 5 p.m. There will be a limited amount of autographs available at those stops, so get there early if you want to try and meet one of the players.

For those who can’t make it to the caravan, Grady Little will be doing a live chat today at 2 p.m. PT. And for those who miss that, check out his interview this morning with Roggin and Simers Squared on KLAC 570. Money and Petros Papadakis from KLAC will be broadcasting live from tomorrow’s event at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

Also, for those who missed DodgerTalk on Sunday night, you can listen here and continue to listen each Sunday night at 8 p.m. on KFWB 980.

We hope to see you at one of the caravan stops today or tomorrow.

A couple moves

Just a quick update before the weekend. Earlier today, we sold the contract of Oscar Robles to the Mexico City Reds and we signed outfielder Larry Bigbie to a minor league contract with an invite to big league Spring Training.

At the end of the day, this is probably a good thing Oscar, as his opportunities here would probably be limited with Ramon Martinez, Wilson Valdez, Chin-lung Hu and others competing for a spot on the big league club.

I hope everyone enjoys the Superbowl and then turns on KFWB for the first DodgerTalk of the year.

Radio inquiries

First off, thank you all for your comments about the Rewards Program. We’re obviously working hard to make sure that our fans are happy and we’ll do our best to please everyone. This isn’t always possible, but we’ll certainly die trying.

In regards to Spring Training broadcasts, we have yet to announce a full radio schedule for the games, but rest assured the plan is to have a similar schedule as last year. KFWB will broadcast most of the weekend games live, as well as a few other notable games. Every other game should be available on dodgers.com or mlb.com, usually with the Dodger broadcasters and occasionally with the visiting team’s broadcast. If you are looking for information on which radio affiliates will carry the broadcast, you’ll have to touch base with your local affiliate, as they’re all different. But, everytime we have our broadcasters do the games, which is the majority of the time, that feed is available to the affiliates. Whether or not they choose to use it is up to them.

Sticking with the radio topic, don’t forget that DodgerTalk starts this Sunday night on KFWB 980 with Bob Harvey following the Superbowl. Nomar Garciaparra will be the guest and it will air every Sunday at 8 p.m. until the season starts.

And, in case you missed it, Frank McCourt chatted this morning with Roggin and Simers Squared on KLAC 570. Take a listen if you missed it, as he covers a number of interesting topics that I think fans will find important.

And finally, to answer the question, yes, there will be beer sold in the All-You-Can-Eat right field pavilion, but I don’t think it will make the place any less family friendly. As many of you are aware, there is alcohol sold at most sporting events throughout Southern California and they are able to maintain the family atmosphere. It is our plan and goal that the same holds true here at Dodger Stadium. And as in years past, the left field pavilion will remain alcohol free for those who prefer that option.

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