March 2007

Manny Mota

Many of you have probably read the news about Johnny Pesky out of Boston, as Major League Baseball is cracking down this year about how many coaches are allowed to be in uniform and in the dugout during the game.

That means that unfortunately, Manny Mota is going to have to stop traveling with the team and dressing in uniform, with the exception of pregame at home games, when he’ll continue to be in uniform and help out Eddie Murray and the rest of the coaching staff.

The good news is, Manny is going to continue his incredible work with the front office and in the community, as he’s easily the biggest supporter of the Dodgers Dream Foundation with his time and dedication. Plus, he’ll continue to do the incredible work he does with the Manny Mota Foundation in the Dominican Republic.

I’ve witnessed Manny’s work first-hand over the years and he’s an incredible ambassador for the Dodgers and for the game of baseball. We’ll certainly miss having him on the road, but we’ll see plenty of him at home games and in the community.

And, since I won’t get to post anything tomorrow because we take off in the morning for Milwaukee, be sure to watch Opening Day on Monday from one of the bars or restaurants that are part of the new Home Base Network. We’ve worked out deals with all of these places to have Dodger memorabilia all around, as this is a great way for Dodger fans from around the city to come together to watch the games when we’re on the road. To kick it off, we’ll have plenty of Dodger VIPs around the city, including Tommy Lasorda and Jamie and Frank McCourt (Barney’s Beanery, West Hollywood), Fernando Valenzuela (******* in Pasadena), Steve Garvey (******* in Burbank) and Kenny Landreaux and Wes Parker (Yankee Doodles, Santa Monica). Check out this link for all the bars that are a part of the network.

Less than 72 hours to go…

I would’ve thought that posting the lineup for the first time in six months would spark all sorts of comments, but apparently it’s quiet out in cyberspace.

In any event, from what I’ve heard, the parking lot cleared faster last night than any time in recent memory, so hopefully some of you experienced that. I’m sure there will still be some growing pains, but I’m glad that many people are giving this a chance to work.

For those who came last night, they also got to see a rarity – a triple play. I’ve been working in baseball for 12 years now and that was the first time I ever saw one live. Despite the fact that it is Spring Training, it was still pretty cool. And, Steve Lyons called it on the radio…well, actually Rick Monday "called" it but Lyons predicted it, as he had literally just said that having runners double steal with no outs is a little risky because of the possibility of a triple play. Less than a second later, Rick Monday gave the play-by-play of the Angels’ third triple play of the spring. Crazy.

Speaking of the KFWB broadcast, the entire organization sends its condolences to Charley Steiner, who lost his mother, Gertrude, yesterday at the age of 95. He’ll be back with the team when we go to Milwaukee, but Rick will call tonight’s game solo and tomorrow he’ll call it with A Martinez from Anaheim. Charley asked me to let anyone know who asked that donations can be made in her name to the Dodgers Dream Foundation and while I don’t think he was actually referring to the fans, I figured I’d at least pass along his sentiments, as it was quite a nice gesture on his part.

This morning we met with the people from MLB.com for almost three hours and we have all sorts of great ideas for new things in 2007. Many of them will directly benefit you guys, the people who visit the site regularly, so be on the lookout for new features, multimedia, sweepstakes, etc. in the coming weeks and months. If you guys aren’t registered members of the site, you should definitely do that, as the benefits are actually pretty nice. I’m guessing most people visiting the blog are already registered users, but if not, it’s well worth it (and it costs nothing).

That’s about it for now. Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Pierre, CF

Martin, C

Nomar 1B (the twins, Grace and Ava, will be watching from the hospital with Mia)

Kent, 2B

Gonzo, LF

Saenz, DH

Betemit, 3B

Ethier, RF

Valdez, SS

Schmidt, P

Tonight's game

It feels a little strange, posting the lineup from the clubhouse again. Pretty exciting, though.

Pierre, CF

Martin, C

Barnes, 1B

Kent, 2B

Gonzo, LF

Saenz, DH (yes, during the Freeway Series we’re having DHs)

Betemit, 3B

Ethier, RF

Martinez, SS

Wolf, P

Hope to see you guys out here tonight.

Back to L.A.

I guess it’s only fitting that Eric Neel of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine sent me the link to this while we’re on the bus to the airport, on our way out of Florida for ’07. We’ve seen a lot of incredible articles and features on Dodgertown this spring, but if you didn’t make it down here, this feature will make you come next year. Much like the other pieces that were done, this one does make it seem somewhat like this is our last year at Dodgertown, but that’s the only flaw I see. Otherwise, Eric and his ESPN.com colleagues did an incredible job here to sum up what it’s like to be at Dodgertown.

Be sure your audio is turned on. This should lead the site later in the day.

We’ll certainly look forward to coming back here again next year.

Twins!

Very exciting news today, as Grady has passed along word to the media that Nomar Garciaparra’s wife, Mia, had twins girls this morning and both are healthy. And, apparently Brady Clark is also expecting sometime soon, so we’re looking forward to all the new additions to the Dodger family.

As for another Dodger in the hospital, Jason Repko is set to have his surgery today at 11 a.m. PT, so we all wish him a full and speedy recovery. From my experience, you’d be hard pressed to find a nicer guy in baseball or in life.

UPDATE: Jason’s surgery went as expected and we wish him the best.

In response to some of the comments from yesterday, I have to say that Camille is actually really, really good at her job and the fact that T.J. likes to make fun of her (as he does with everyone) shouldn’t actually have much bearing on how you view her here. T.J. would probably be the first to admit that part of his schtick is to take comments out of context for the sake of humor, which is what he did yesterday. If anything, I think most fans can look at the stability that the organization is starting to experience in the last year and a half and realize that it coincides with her arrival on the team (as well as Ned, Grady and many others). That’s just my two cents worth.

As for the handicapped parking comment, my apologies for not responding. Yes, it all stays the same as last year, no changes in where you’ll park, how you’ll get there, etc. Thanks for reminding me to address it.

Last night in town

It’s hard to believe, but this is our last full day in Florida before heading home. We’re on the bus back to Dodgertown from Jupiter after a loss to the Cardinals and tonight will mostly be spent packing up the offices and our personal belongings before tomorrow morning’s 8 a.m. bus to Lakeland. From there, we’ll bus to Tampa and then fly home for the Freeway Series, which starts on Thursday.

I know I promised to weigh in further on the new parking plan and while I think Frank McCourt’s web chat answered most of the questions you had, I certainly hope that everyone will give this a shot to work. I know that the price increase is not going to make our fans happy and I fully expect that any time we raise a price at Dodger Stadium, whether it’s for tickets, parking, food, souvenirs or anything of the sort, we’re going to hear it from you guys. But please understand that this truly is done with a serious plan to improve the parking situation at the stadium. This is not just a way to try and get more money out of our fans.

There are all sorts of costs that go into a plan this extensive and anyone who has been to the stadium knows what a hassle it is to get in and out. In my opinion, if we can save you all time, it’ll be worth the extra money. And if it’s not working, as many of you have suggested, we’ll amend it so that it does work. Just know that we take your comments seriously and we ask for your patience in letting this work the way we think it can.

Switching subjects, a special thank you goes out to alex41592 for the regular spring updates, as I know how much people appreciated it. Once we get back to town, we’ll start posting the lineups again as soon as they’re up.

I’ll try to post one more time tomorrow from Lakeland.

Brady Clark is coming to L.A.

Once again, trying to get news to you guys as fast as possible that we have acquired Brewers outfielder Brady Clark and cash considerations in exchange for Elmer Dessens. With Repko having gone down, we needed someone who could fill that role and play center field and Brady has been known as a solid outfielder who can play all three outfield positions. He also hits right-handed which, as you know, none of the other outfielders in camp can do.

Hopefully more later on that front…release is going out shortly.

Tomko, Pierre and Bigbie

The main news from today, as I posted below, is that Brett Tomko is going to be the fifth starter entering the season. He seems to have earned it this spring and for now, that means that Chad Billingsley and Mark Hendrickson will begin the year in the bullpen while Hong-Chih Kuo and Joe Mays will begin the year in the minors.

Also, I know it’s just spring and I know that this will spark all sorts of comments on this blog as it seems to be a hot topic among you all, but Juan Pierre has quietly put together an incredible Spring Training. Not only does he have more stolen bases over the past six seasons than any other player in baseball, but he swiped his fourth base of the spring yesterday and has yet to be caught stealing.

He also went 1-for-3 and drew his first walk of the spring in the game to give him a .370 batting average and .375 on-base percentage. In his last 10 Grapefruit League contests, Pierre is batting .424 (14-for-33) and he also has struck out just one time in more than 45 plate appearances. And as I’ve pointed out before, Pierre’s 1,182 hits since 2001 rank second in baseball to only Ichiro Suzuki (1,354).

I know that Spring Training numbers won’t convince the naysayers that Pierre is going to be a huge asset to the team, but I don’t think anyone can argue that if he comes even close to what he’s done this spring during the season, we’re going to be scoring a ton of runs and winning a lot of games.

And finally, Larry Bigbie, whose game-winning hit was yet another impressive part of his showing this spring, continues to make his case for making the team. As I think I’ve written here before, Ken Gurnick somehow seems to figure out who the non-roster invitee will be each year that surprises everyone and makes the team. In years past, he’s correctly predicted Wilson Alvarez, Jose Lima and several others and believe it or not, during the intrasquad game on Feb. 28, Ken turned to me in the press box and said that Larry Bigbie was going to have an incredible spring and throw all of our plans up in the air. Sure enough, he’s opened a ton of eyes out here and somehow Ken predicted it again. Maybe we should make him a scout…

Anyway, that’s all for today. Don’t forget to listen to DodgerTalk tonight at 8 p.m. PT on KFWB 980 and watch Dodgers Live on FSN Prime Ticket tonight at 10 p.m. PT. 

Tomko takes the fifth

Brett Tomko is going to be the fifth starter at the start of the season, with Hendrickson pitching out of relief. More to follow soon, but I wanted to let you all know as soon as I could.

Training Day

That’s the movie we’re watching right now on the bus to Ft. Lauderdale after watching Blood Diamond yesterday. Spring Training is a good time for us to catch up on movies that we don’t really have time to see during the season. Scott Akasaki, our manager of team travel, is the one who picks what we’re going to watch and he hears it from people if he doesn’t make the right choice. It’s a part of his job I don’t envy.

It was nice to see yesterday’s game turn out the way it did, with Derek giving up a hit to the first two guys and then nothing else the rest of the way. The bullpen guys were all solid and that’s refreshing, given that the season is just over a week away.

Speaking of Lowe, he made Jon Heyman’s All-Star team of unappreciated baseball people, as did Grady Little. That’s a cool story and it’s nice to see both getting the recognition they deserve.

That’s it for now…looking for more good things out of Randy Wolf today against Baltimore.

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