April 2008

Another nice win…though I saw none of it

We had quite a busy day yesterday down here in the Dominican Republic. It started with a tryout for number of young players and you can’t help but wonder what goes through these kids’ minds while they’re working out. I’m sure they know that the GM, a Hall of Fame manager and some of their childhood heroes (Jose Vizcaino, Wilton Guerrero, Ralph Avila etc.) are all watching and judging their every move. If they have a good day, it could potentially change their entire family’s life with just a signing bonus and if they don’t, it could be back to a tiny town with little hope of getting out. I know that oversimplifies things quite a bit and certainly not all young players fall into this category, but you could easily see how much each kid was trying to impress the Dodger staff.

There should be a photo gallery posting soon from that portion of the day…

In the afternoon, we took a drive over the future headquarters of the Manny Mota Foundation, where they are currently building an incredible four-field facility that will easily change the entire neighborhood where it is located. I really don’t think Manny gets enough credit for what he does down here but he affects thousands of lives on a daily basis, which is pretty amazing. Hoping to get something up on the site about that shortly.

Late in the day, we had a news conference that was attended by about 40 media members and the entire Campo Las Palmas staff, and everyone there was very excited that the Dodgers had come to visit. You can tell how important it is to the Dominican people when a big league team takes the time to stop in their country and see how things are going with their respective academies. Ned Colletti told everyone how important it is for us to re-double our efforts here and that seems to be a theme in much of what we’ve been doing.

At dinner, we were all checking our blackberries every five minutes for scoring updates and it was great to see us pull out another victory – four in a row. We need to keep it going while we’re on the road.

I’ll work on answering some of the questions that have been posed in the comments once we’re back in America on Thursday or Friday.

Campo Las Palmas

We arrived last night to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, where we’ll be on a goodwill trip, so to speak. In addition to numerous business meetings taking place, we’ll be holding a tryout this morning for some of our baseball operations group to see, as well as touring the Dodgers’ facility each. I was fortunate to come down here about five years ago for the first time, but much like Dodgertown, you can’t really ever get enough of Campo Las Palmas.

Actually, my recollections from the first visit are just that – Dodgertown. The academy here feels like a mini-Dodgertown in the DR. The feel is the same, only everyone is speaking Spanish!

Tommy Lasorda, Ned Colletti, Ralph Avila and Jose Vizcaino are the key names that you’ll recognize among the group here. We all flew from Los Angeles yesterday and while we were waiting for our connecting flight in Miami, Tommy Lasorda was telling stories from his years of managing here in the winter. He actually told one about getting thrown in a jail in the city of Santiago for arguing with the umpire…it was priceless. Many of the players you know from the 70s were here with him, including Rick Rhoden, Charlie Hough, Steve Garvey, Bobby Valentine, Doug Rau, Tom Paciorek and others. Tommy thinks that their time playing here helped them reach the big leagues a year or two earlier than they would have otherwise.

As for modern day Dominican baseball, Jose Vizcaino likens it to good Triple-A, as he said that the two top teams,Licey and the Aguilas could probably beat most Triple-A teams. As many of you have read, Rafael Furcal attributes his hot start this year to playing down here in the winter.

Last night, Ralph was showing us some of the photos of the land that Campo Las Palmas was built on before it was built. It’s really amazing to see how far baseball has come in this country and what a huge impact it has had on the Major Leagues.

Well, it’s 8 a.m. here and we’re off to the academy shortly, but I’ll post again late tonight after our news conference.

Today's lineup

Furcal, SS

Ethier, LF

Kemp, RF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Jones, CF

DeWitt, 3B

Hu, 2B

Loaiza, P

My next post should be coming from the Dominican Republic, where we head tomorrow morning. Should be an interesting trip so stay tuned.

Also, I still haven’t had a chance to read through comments for the last few days, so if you’ve asked a question, we’re not ignoring you…just been busier than usual.

Tonight's lineup…

As expected, Nomar is back on the DL and Blake DeWitt is back at third base. He was in Vegas long enough to play one game and while they were eating their postgame meal, they saw the play happen at third base where Nomar strained his calf.

As for Andruw Jones, he’s back in the lineup…two guys who aren’t, Chin-lung Hu and Delwyn Young, conducted a clinic for youngsters earlier today at Dodger Stadium and after watching Hu’s defense last night, he’s definitely a good guy to be teaching how to play.

Here’s the lineup:

Furcal, SS

Pierre, LF

Kemp, RF

Kent, 2B

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Jones, CF

DeWitt, 3B

Penny, P

Tonight's lineup

If you’ve left a lot of comments lately, my apologies for not responding to them. I haven’t had a chance to read the comments in a couple days, but hope to do so during tonight’s game.

Here’s the lineup:

Furcal, SS

Jones, CF

Nomar, 3B

Kent, 2B

Loney, 1B

Martin, C

Ethier, RF

Pierre, LF

Kuroda, P

The Next 50 Years…

It’s hard for anyone to fathom Dodger Stadium in April 2062 when it turns 100, but that’s basically what Frank McCourt is doing with all that was announced today. There is so much to all of it, it’s hard to even really get into any detail so I’ll just point you in the right direction and let you peruse dodgers.com/next50 at your leisure. But suffice to say, I’m impressed.

There will be restaurants, shops, kids areas, walkways, 2000 trees, new Dodger offices, new concourses throughout and a million reasons to come early and stay late for Dodger games (not to mention showing up when there’s not even a game). But the part that excites me the most is the Dodger Experience Museum…I can honestly remember being an intern here in the mid 90s and being so excited that I came up with the idea for a Dodger Hall of Fame and Museum. I told my boss at the time what a great plan this was, only to find out that it had been talked about and contemplated for years (talk about bursting my bubble!)

It’s finally going to come to fruition and I hope every one else gets as excited seeing these renderings as I do.

As for tonight (back to the short-term), it’s another big game against Arizona. Joe Torre and the baseball staff believe we need to add another pitcher, so Cory Wade will be in uniform and Blake DeWitt has been optioned, surely with his head high. What an impressive job he’s done and he’s made a ton of people take notice (not the least of which are in Sikeston, MO, his hometown that named this Blake DeWitt month).

Still awaiting a starting pitcher on Sunday…here’s tonight’s lineup:

Furcal, SS

Jones, CF

Nomar, 3B

Kent, 2B

Loney, 1B

Martin, C

Ethier, LF

Kemp, RF

Billingsley, P

Road Trip #2 to Atlanta and Cincinnati – Scott Akasaki

One month ago, there was a hurricane that struck Atlanta and in particular, the Georgia Dome, CNN headquarters, and also, our team hotel.  When we arrived on Thursday night, our team hotel was surrounded by scaffolding, tarps, and wooden boards that covered damaged windows.  During the day, I would look out my room window and I often saw swaying ropes — apparently, windows were being replaced on the floors below.  I found out later that the entire process of replacing the damaged windows might take a better part of a year.  Since it was the weekend, there were also two high school proms so when we returned back to the hotel at night from Turner Field, the lobby was filled with prom goers.  Sometimes you just cannot win.  A lot of times, things are out of your control and you cannot plan on storms or high school proms.  My guess is that if there was no hurricane a month before or if there were not any special meetings or events in our lobby (maybe if we came during the week rather than a weekend), our choice in hotels would have been a lot better.
 
Meanwhile in Cincinnati, there were no hurricanes nor were there any proms.  After all, it was a Monday and Tuesday stay in Cincinnati with the loudest noise coming from the lunch crowd around noon in the lobby area way below our rooms.  (Cincinnati sidebar – it was nice to catch up with former-Dodgers David Ross and Paul Bako — two good guys in the game.  Troy from West Virginia of YouTube fame was here and his legend grows.  Montgomery Inn restaurant still has one of the best BBQ sauces in the country.)
 
Although our travel methods and accomodations may be different than the everyday traveler, we are still subject to inclimate weather and special events.  I have my fingers crossed that we do not run into anything unexpected in August or September.  In actuality, a good lesson was learned.  Tomorrow, I am going to contact our remaining road hotels and ask if there is anything out-of-the-ordinary going on when we visit later this season.

Thanks to Scott for the post and don’t forget that you can still ask your questions of Ned Colletti here. We’ll try to get some answers posted in the next week.

Tonight’s lineup vs. Dan Haren:

Furcal, SS

Jones, CF

Ethier, LF

Nomar, 3B

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Kemp, RF

Hu, 2B

Lowe, P

And a big announcement coming in the morning about “The Next 50 Years” at Dodger Stadium so be sure to check out dodgers.com at 9:30 a.m. PT.

Tonight's lineup

A nice way to break out of the offensive skid yesterday…I’d certainly like to see us spread the scoring around a little bit rather than big outbursts followed by one-run games, but obviously I can’t arrange for that to happen. It seems strange that we’ve scored 82 runs, allowed 71 and are three games under .500. Law of averages would seem to indicate we should be a game over .500 or thereabouts right now, but that’s why laws don’t apply on the field, right?

In any event, here’s tonight’s lineup:

Furcal, SS (tied with Johnny Frederick for the second-most leadoff homers in Dodger history)

Martin, C

Nomar, 3B

Kent, 2B

Ethier, RF

Kemp, CF

Loney, 1B

Pierre, LF

Kuo, P

Today's game

Now that was a weekend I’d like to quickly forget…there’s nothing more that can be said on that front. Three runs in three days won’t get it done, no matter how good our pitching can be, so let’s hope we can get well soon in Cincy before returning home.

Speaking of getting well soon, our sincere thoughts go out to former Dodger coach Preston Gomez, who celebrated his birthday yesterday in the hospital following a bad car accident earlier this month. Bill Plunkett, who used to cover the Dodgers for the OC Register and now covers the Angels, posted a blog about Preston yesterday with an update on his condition.

Furcal, SS

Martin, C

Nomar, 3B

Kent, 2B

Ethier, LF

Kemp, RF

Loney, 1B

Jones, CF

Penny, P

 

Sunday on TBS

For those not in LA, keep an eye out on TBS for today’s game with this lineup…

Furcal, SS

Pierre, LF

Loney, 1B

Jones, CF

Ethier, RF

Martin, C

DeWitt, 3B

Hu, 2B

Kuroda, P

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