February 2008

I'm Going to Disneyworld…

Actually, I’m not really going to Disneyworld. I’ll be here in Vero working throughout the day to catch up while the team is in Orlando for the game. But we’ll be on ESPN at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, with Hiroki Kuroda making his much anticipated Dodger debut. We’re expecting tons of Japanese media on site and I know Joe Torre is slated to be interviewed from the dugout during the game.

Thanks to all of you for the kind words. With the new role, I’ll still operate the blog on a regular basis, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we’ll be adding more contributors so that it’s truly "Inside the Dodgers," not "Inside the PR and Broadcasting Departments of the Dodgers." So keep the questions coming for Ned and we’ll post answers for you regularly.

As for the question about tomorrow’s on-sale date for Coliseum and single-game tickets, here’s all the info you need.

Here’s the lineup in Orlando:

Furcal, SS

Ethier, LF

Kemp, RF

Loney, 1B

LaRoche, 3B

Repko, CF

Bennett, C

Martinez, SS

Kuroda, P

Slice Open the Grapefruit

Spring Training truly starts today, despite the fact that we’ve been in Vero for more than two weeks. Before I get to the lineup, which I’m sure you’re all anxious to see, I’ve got some great news about the Inside the Dodgers blog.

As I had hoped when this whole thing started more than two years ago, you’ll begin to get more contributors to the blog, including Team Travel Manager Scott Akasaki and General Manager Ned Colletti.

Scott is responsible for every plane, train, automobile, and hotel that we will travel this year, which covers more than 54,000 miles. He will be giving everyone a little insight into how we go about doing that and some of the funny things that happen along the way.

Even better, Ned came to me a few weeks ago and said that he wants to find a way to interact with the fans more often and suggested that this be the area to do so. Therefore, every couple of weeks, he’s going to answer your questions here.

It won’t be live, but if you have a question for Ned, please direct it to him in the comments. I’ll compile all the questions and he’ll pick about 10 to answer every other week or so.

So with that, happy "Opening Day"…here’s the lineup for the first part of today’s game:

Pierre, LF

Furcal, SS

Martin, C

Kent, 2B

Jones, CF

Loney, 1B

Nomar, 3B

Kemp, RF

J. Johnson, P

Today's intrasquad

Team Koufax: Pierre (LF), Nomar (3B), Loney (1B), Jones (CF), Kemp (RF), Hu (SS), Bennett (C), Chavez (2B), May (DH).

Team Drysdale: Furcal (SS), Repko (CF), Ethier (RF), Sweeney (1B), Martin (C), LaRoche (3B), Young (LF), Martinez (2B), Lindsey (DH)

You can talk to Loney about the game and Spring Training during his live web chat later today at 2 pm PT/5 ET.

Talk to James Loney

He’ll chat on dodgers.com tomorrow at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET

Photo Day and Intrasquad

You might think with two days and no posts, that we had the weekend off, but in fact we’ve been here every day with little news to share. Everything is going well at camp and there are tons of fans right now watching the players go through the annual photo day, where are the various baseball card companies, photo agencies, etc. get a chance to get their official shots of the players.

The Dodger PR Department has made it an annual event to wake up really early on Photo Day (5:30 or so) and visit the local Cracker Barrel, which we did again today. Good eats, good company and we even found my daughter an outfit that said, "My First John Deere" with a picture of a tractor on it, so it’s been quite a morning. Plus, we found out that there’s a Cracker Barrel in Glendale, Arizona, so our annual tradition will continue even when we move spring sites.

There’s an intrasquad game today at 12 p.m. between team Koufax and team Drysdale. Here are the lineups:

Koufax: Abreu (2B), Hu (SS), Loney (1B), May (C), Tiffee (LF), Paul (RF), Chavez (3B), Logan (CF)…pitchers are Sturtze, Tom Martin, Falkenborg, Jones and Hull.

Drysdale: Young (2B), Ethier (LF), Sweeney (RF), LaRoche (3B), Lindsey (1B), Griffin (CF), Ellis (C), Martinez (SS)…pitchers are Myers, Johnson, Koplove, Shackelford and De La Cruz.

This is probably the first time Mike Myers has seen his name at the starting pitcher spot in quite some time. He’s appeared in 883 big league games, which is 22nd all-time, and none as a starter. He did make 80 starts in the minor leagues in 127 games, but the last time he started a game was 1994.

Game is at Holman Stadium, so come on down if you’re in Vero.

UPDATE: Drysdale beat Koufax. John Lindsey had three hits, Chin-lung Hu had two and Brian Shackelford threw the only perfect innning. While celebratin ghis 26th birthday, Diamond Leung of the Press Enterprise blogged play by play here.

Dr. Jobe and the Honeymooners

In baseball, the term "honeymoon" usually refers to a new GM or manager who has a grace period after their hiring before fans start to get antsy. Today, I saw something that brought the true meaning of honeymoon to Dodgertown.

Waiting outside the Dodger clubhouse where the fans usually hang out for autographs were Tim and Danielle Monteath of Atascadero, CA. The couple was wearing Dodger jerseys and Mickey Mouse ears that had a top hat and a bride’s veil. They got married on Saturday and Tim, a lifelong Dodger fan, convinced his new bride to come to Vero Beach as part of their honeymoon. We posted a picture of them in today’s photo gallery and I brought them over to the clubhouse where they got a chance to get a close up look at the the players as they headed out to the field. Congratulations to the bride and groom!

Also, for those of you in Vero, there will be an intrasquad game on Tuesday so feel free to drop by. Here’s how the pitching lines up for the first few days of spring:

Tuesday intrasquad: Penny, Park, Kuo

Wednesday simulated game: Lowe and Stults

Thursday home opener: Billingsley and Jason Johnson

Friday on ESPN: Kuroda and Loaiza

To answer the two questions posed in the comments – there are lots of ghost stories from Dodger Stadium and I’m afraid I don’t know all of them. However, there’s supposedly a lady in a red dress who walks around the Top Deck late at night…or at least that’s what a security guard once told me.

And the Star on the Walk of Fame ceremony has been rescheduled for June 20. You’re right, it was originally on the docket in February but due to the passing of Johnny Grant, among other things, we decided to postpone the event. As a matter of fact, we were scheduled to have lunch with Johnny the day he passed, which was obviously quite a shock to everyone who knew him.

And finally, on a much happier note, I’m saving the best news for last, as Dr. Frank Jobe was named Special Advisor to the Chairman today in a well deserved promotion. This man certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame and he has changed the lives of so many baseball players over the years, it’s hard to fathom. We wish him a very hearty congratulations.

Tommy Returning to the Dugout

It’s official…Tommy Lasorda will manage the team in Joe Torre’s absence while the team is in China. He’s walking around on cloud nine here at Dodgertown and everyone here is very excited for him. He’ll have Larry Bowa and Bob Schaefer in the dugout with him to help with any decisions, but Joe made it clear when he met with the media just now that this is, in fact, Tommy’s team in the interim. He even joked about losing his job if he goes 0-2 in China and Tommy goes 8-0 in Florida, but something tells me Tommy will be glad to hand it back over when he’s finished.

As for the first full-squad workout today, nothing terribly exciting happened. There were the usual drills, batting practice, etc. and unfortunately, non-roster invitee George Lombard hurt his calf during conditioning, so he’ll be out a couple days.

As they say, baseball is a marathon, not a sprint, but we’ll leave you today with this note geared towards anyone who is planning on running in the REAL L.A. marathon next month.

The Dodgers are forming a team that will run together in the L.A. Marathon on Sunday, March 2. Interested fans will represent the Dodgers and help celebrate the Dodgers’ 50 years in Los Angeles as they run together throughout the city. 

The Dodger team will be outfitted in Dodger gear (nothing too fancy since you obviously have to run in it) and be given a pair of tickets redeemable during the 2008 season. L.A. Marathon registered runners interested in representing the Dodgers, can send their contact information to pubintern@ladodgers.com.

Good luck to everyone during the final few weeks of training for the marathon (that is, the real one and the Dodger season).

Gang's almost all here…

Not much to report from here…Schmidt and Brazoban both threw without issue today, which is obviously a positive. Sandy Koufax was back out again today, this time working with Greg Miller, among others. 

With nothing else really to blog about, here are our daily notes from Dodgertown.

FULL SQUAD ON THE HORIZON: Dodger pitchers and catchers worked out for the sixth time this spring, and tomorrow will be joined by all position players for the first full-squad workout.  Nearly all position players this morning were out on the field taking batting practice, fielding grounders, and catching fly balls to get an early start.  Sandy Koufax was on the grounds for the third day in a row to offer advice to the pitching staff.  Maury Wills was also on hand, helping pitchers with bunting drills in Wills Pit.

DOUBLE NICKEL: As most are aware, Dodger catcher Russell Martin wears uniform No. 55.  Yesterday, while the Canadian was filming for DodgerVision, he discussed his favorite baseball memory as being his major league debut on May 5, 2006.  When a public relations staffer asked Martin if that was the reason why he went on to wear No. 55 permanently, he replied, “Oh, I didn’t even think of that.”  A true coincidence, indeed.  Martin explained that 55 was the number that he and the club agreed to.

HOMETOWN HEROES: There are six Dodgers on the 40-man roster who are Southern California natives, including Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, James McDonald, Greg Miller, Rudy Seanez, and Delwyn Young.  The high schools these men played at are St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower (Garciaparra), Edison High School in Huntington Beach (Kent), Long Beach Poly High School (McDonald), Esperanza High School in Anaheim (Miller), Brawley Union High School (Seanez), and Littlerock High School (Young).  Not to go unnoticed is Esteban Loaiza, who was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and attended Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, CA.

FIRST THING’S FIRST: The Dodgers have eight first-round draft picks in camp, including four who are supplemental first-round selections.  Of the eight first-round players, Chad Billingsley (24th overall in 2003), James Loney (19th overall in 2002), Miller (31st in 2002), Justin Orenduff (33rd overall in 2004), and Jason Repko (37th overall in 1999) were selected by the Dodgers.  The other three are Rick Asadoorian (17th overall by Boston Red Sox in 1999), Garciaparra (12th overall by Boston in 1994), and John-Ford Griffin (23rd overall by New York Yankees in 2001).  Both Asadoorian and Griffin are in Dodger camp as non-roster invitees.

TAKE IT TO THE HAUS: Longtime Seattle Mariners’ broadcaster Dave Niehaus today was named the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, and will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.  Upon graduation from Indiana University, Niehaus worked for the Armed Forces radio and TV service, calling the action for Dodger games before moving to New York to handle Yankees baseball as well as basketball and hockey. After leaving the Armed Forces Network, he returned to Los Angeles to broadcast the Dodgers, Rams, and Lakers.

YOU COMPLETE ME: In going 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA in 26 starts last year for Hiroshima, Hiroki Kuroda tossed seven complete games.  In Major League Baseball in 2007, there were four teams with as many as seven complete games.  The Toronto Blue Jays led the way with 11, followed by the Chicago White Sox (nine), Cleveland Indians (nine), and Arizona Diamondbacks (seven).  Individually, Toronto’s Roy Halladay led the Majors with seven complete games in 2007, followed by Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia and Arizona’s Brandon Webb with four apiece.

GREAT SCOTT!: Dodger reliever Scott Proctor ranks second in the Majors over the last two years with 166 appearances, trailing only Washington’s Jon Rauch, who has 173.  Proctor’s final 31 appearances of 2007 came in a Dodger uniform.  Jonathan Broxton, meanwhile, is tied for seventh among big league relievers in that same span with 151. 

DATES TO REMEMBER

February 20 – First Full-Squad Workout

February 29 – First Spring TV Game (at Atlanta, 1:05 pm on ESPN)

March 2 – Ticket On-Sale Day at Dodger Stadium

February 28 – First Spring Game (vs. Atlanta, Holman Stadium)

March 15-16 – Dodgers vs. Padres in China

Happy Birthday Manny Mota…

From a late broadcasting legend to a legendary current coach, today we’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to Manny Mota, who turns 70 years old. The work he does for his international foundation is often overlooked and few realize he’s the longest tenured coach in Dodger history and a key part of the organization. We wish him and his family a very happy 70th.

Of course, we can also move from a legend who we see every day like Manny to one we never see, Sandy Koufax. Sandy stopped by Dodgertown today for the second consecutive day, but given his preference for privacy, I didn’t mention it yesterday when he stayed behind the scenes.

Today, he gave pitching lessons to Scott Proctor and Chan Ho Park and it created quite the scene. All of the fans at Dodgertown flocked to the new bullpen area where this was taking place and when Sandy signed a few autographs, it was hard to believe the chaos it created. In any event, Joe Torre talked at length about his friendship with Sandy so that will be all over the various media outlets that cover us.

There will also be plenty of coverage on Juan Pierre, who arrived in camp today and spoke to the media about his role, as well as Don Mattingly, who made his first appearance at Dodgertown and chatted with several writers, too.  It’s all part of the ebb and flow of early Spring Training, which will start to pick up tomorrow when the remaining position players arrive.

Also, I forgot to respond to one question about why Rick Monday wasn’t on the press release we sent out the other day. Simply, it’s because it was a release about our TV schedule and he only does radio.

Happy Birthday, Red Barber

Hall of Famer Red Barber, who called play-by-play of Brooklyn Dodger games on the radio from 1939-53, would have celebrated his 100th birthday today.  He was born Walter Lanier Barber had the distinction of broadcasting baseball’s first night game on May 24, 1935 in Cincinnati and the sport’s first televised contest on August 26, 1939 in Brooklyn.  Barber was born on February 17, 1908, and he passed away on October 22, 1992. He also served as a mentor to Vin Scully, for which we all owe him a great deal.

You can listen to a tribute to Barber on the front of dodgers.com in the rotating panel.

Also, I just picked up Joe Torre’s autobiography, Chasing the Dream,  and the word "Dodgers" makes its first appearance 185 words into the book. Torre refers to the World Series game in 1956 which he attended as a 16-year-old and saw Don Larsen pitch a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

A pretty quiet day on the baseball front. All workouts went as scheduled and the front office is going to head out at 5 p.m. for a game of football.

More on Monday…

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