The season will start just a bit early this year for the Los Angeles Dodgers thanks to Major League Baseball going global. MLB decided to expand the brand and use the Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks to promote the sport in Australia.
The two rival teams will play at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 22-23. The two teams have built a huge rivalry in the last two years, which will make for great competition amongst their Australian fans.
Clayton Kershaw gets the start in the first game, while Hyun Jin Ryu gets the start in the second game. Ryu replaces Zack Greinke who left a Spring Training game last week with a strained right calf. Greinke who was never fully in support of the trip Down Under, and will not travel with the team.
Greinke is scheduled to begin bullpen throwing sessions this week at Camelback Ranch.
The Dodgers are scheduled to depart for Australia next Sunday.
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp has continued to progress in rehabbing from his off season ankle surgery, that has kept him out of his action this Spring.
After positive test results that enable him to progress in more workouts that include tracking down fly balls and running on the field, manager Don Mattingly feels strongly that Kemp will return sooner. “I don’t put that kind of timetable on it,” Mattingly told MLB.com. “As long as he’s moving forward.“
Kemp continues to eye his return this season, although he will not be available for the Australia trip on March 22-23 against Arizona.
“I’m out there running again, I am happy. I’m good,” Matt Kemp said regarding his progress. He could make a return during the first week of the season at Dodger Stadium.
“He’s swinging the bat good. It won’t be long before he’s in a game,” said Mattingly.
The important factor is to get Kemp healthy and last throughout the season, unlike his previous two seasons where he played a total of 179 games.
*(Photo By: Jon SooHoo)
The 22 year old Zach Lee makes his Catcus League start on Friday afternoon for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are extremely excited to watch Lee pitch, as he was invited to Spring Training by the Dodgers this year. Lee has all of the tools to pitch in MLB, however must continue to fine tune his pitches. He overcame an injury to his lat muscle, which enabled him to miss his first scheduled bullpen session.
The Dodgers will be observant of his pitch count, and as Lee continues to develop. He could see some action in the very near future at the next level for the Dodgers, but now the team is focused on their other starters in Paul Maholm and Josh Beckett.
Dodgers starter Zack Greinke left yesterday’s game after four pitches, due to a mild calf strain in his right leg.
Greinke struck out Tony Campana, and threw a few pitches to Cliff Pennington before Don Mattingly decided to retire Greinke for the afternoon.
Greinke felt some tightness in his calf, “we deal with small stuff all the time, and I think that’s what this is. We’ll see, but that’s my guess,” said Greinke. “I’d still be pitching if this were a regular season game.”
Greinke made sure to let his thoughts be known how he was in favor of his team taking the long trip to Australia.
Since then Greinke has relaxed his stance on the down under issue, sort of.
“If we’re going to be there, I want to pitch,” Greinke said. “My vote if we had to go over there, was not going. But more people wanted to go than not, so now that we are going, I want to be there. I don’t want to not go and have the rest of the team play with me sitting here watching. I also don’t want to go there and not pitch.”
Each day Greinke will go through ice and theraphy related treatment on his calf, until a diagnosis can be reached.
He will be ready to pitch again in time for the regular season.
On Friday Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp gets an update on the progress of his surgically repaired ankle. Since the off-season and in Spring Training, Kemp has worked vigorously to return stronger for the 2014 season. Able to only workout and taking batting practice, good news for Kemp would be a relief where he’ll be able to practice with the rest of his teammates.
Manager Don Mattingly is optimistic that Kemp will return, however still unsure of his timetable. “I’m assuming once we get the green light to go forward, it’s still going to be a progression to get him ready,” Mattingly told the LA Times.
The results of the MRI on his ankle will determine whether he moves on to the next phase of his rehab. If all goes well, Kemp could be ready in time for the March 30th season opener against the Padres in San Diego. Or he may be available for the Dodgers home opener on March 4th.
Kemp has maintained his stance, that he wants to be a Dodger for life, and this is the year of opportunity to prove his worth to the team and organization.
Coming off a phenomenal 2013 season that resulted in the Los Angeles Dodgers appearing the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, and Clayton Kershaw acquired his second Cy Young award.
Kershaw also made news when he signed his sever year, $215 million deal, he makes his debut today in his Cactus League debut.
“It’s not a normal Spring Training,” Kershaw told MLB.com. ”Tomorrow we’re, in a sense, in the middle of things. We’ve got 19 [days of spring training games] before we play a game that counts. We’ve got to feel some sense of urgency.”
The team along with Kershaw have worked out but lacked energy according to manager Don Mattingly. However Mattingly is hopefully that the Dodgers will pick up their intensity as the season gets closer to beginning. Last season the Dodgers played approximately 36 games.
Kershaw is scheduled not to participate in the games in Australia in order to lighten his work load this season. The Dodgers have a less than a month before they face the Arizona Diamondbacks in a early regular season matchup.
“We’ve got to feel some sense of urgency,” said Kershaw regarding the regular season.
The Dodgers also participated in some interleague games on Monday and Tuesday, before today’s Cactus league game in order to get into baseball rhythm.
Along with Kershaw starting on the mound, Alex Guerrero will start at second base and bat second, along with Yasiel Puig batting third. Chone Figgins makes his Dodger debut as the lead off hitter on Wednesday.
The long awaited Dodgers network known as SportsNet LA, part of a twenty five year, $8 billion deal launches on February 25th at 7 PM PST.
Unlike the Time Warner Sports Net channel that is shared by the Los Angeles Lakers, Sparks, and Galaxy, this new network is owned and operated by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Time Warner customers can tune in to HD Channel 431 and standard Definition Channel 231. Time Warner is said to be in talks with various other operators such as AT & T U-verse, DirecTV, and COX. A deal should be coming soon between the various providers, however no projected date has been scheduled.
This new network will include exclusive behind the scenes coverage of the Dodgers with shows like Backstage:Dodgers, interviews, and most importantly the chance for fans to watch every Dodger game home and away.
The new SportsNet LA network consist of a dynamite line up includes insight from Jerry Hairston Jr., former Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciaparra, Alana Rizzo (formely of the MLB Network), and John Hartung (formerly ABC 7 in Los Angeles).
As Dodger fans get to hear that golden voice of summer known as Vin Scully call all of the Dodger home games and a few away games this season.
I’m looking forward to enjoying this new Dodgers network, that has been a long time in the making, but I’m sure will be well worth the wait.
Contemplating holding out Clayton Kershaw during the two game trip in Australia, Dan Haren has opportunity to get his first start as a Dodger. With Kershaw and possibly Zack Greinke out, the Dodgers are more likely to start Haren and Hyun Jin Ryu against Arizona.
“Going over there, it’s going to be tough, but we have to think of the games, they’re real regular-season games so we have to turn the switch on,” Haren said. “In regards to the actual trip, it’s going to be a lot to handle, especially for the starting pitchers.”
Haren hasn’t been approached as of yet, but if asked he is looking forward to competing in one of the two regular season games.
With the series being played down under, both the Diamondbacks and Dodgers lose one home game this season.
The Dodgers would have less than a week off before the finish out their Spring Training with a three game series with the Los Angeles Angels on March 27-29.
The Dodgers open up their regular season in San Deigo against the Padres on March 30th.
Zack Greinke is not exactly enthusiastic about pitching down under this coming March.
“I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for it,” Greinke told ESPNLA.com. “There just isn’t any excitement to it. I can’t think of one reason to be excited for it.”
With the team already focused on shortening Clayton Kershaw’s workload, now they must also focus on lightening up the load for Greinke. He is their number two starting pitcher, and the season beginning early could throw off his rhythm slightly.
The Australian games are to be played on March 22 and 23, and the Dodgers leave camp approximately a week early from the Camelback Ranch facility.
Greinke is not stubborn enough to rule out the possibility that he’ll play in the two games, “it’s a baseball thing. It’s an ownership thing, spreading stuff around.”
With Kershaw pitchng 259 innings last season including the playoff, the team can’t afford to burn out their number starter either. Which leaves the opportunity for starters Dan Haren, Hyun Jin Ryu and whoever the Dodgers select as their fifth starter to showcase their work.
With the new schedule the Dodgers now play approximately 15 less games in the Spring, which allows 2 starts less for pitchers to fine tune and get ready for the coming season.
“Zack has this endearing, contrarian quality to him that we all know and love about him,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten told ESPN.com. “He’s famously focused and meticulous about his training regimen. It’s what makes him so good and such a great teammate. This is clearly going to alter his routine. I understand that aspect of it.”
During the 2014 Dodgers Fan Fest at Dodger Stadium, Yasiel Puig addressed some off the field issues with SportNetLA host Alanna Rizzo.
Rizzo interpreted for Puig, when she asked him about the latest speeding and reckless driving charge in Florida, that was recently dropped.
“Nada“, Puig joked in front of the crowd. “I was driving fast. It was my fault. I’m not ever going to drive fast. Or slow. I now have a driver. I want to apologize to the city of Los Angeles and to these fans. I’m done with speeding.“
This was the second incident that involved reckless driving, where he was cited for driving 110 mph in a 70 mph zone. The first incident happened when he was a member of the AA Chattanooga Lookouts, when he drove approximately 97 mph in a 50 mph zone.
Puig continues to mature and grow as a player on and off the field, and as the Dodgers have been patient with him, so do many of the fans and society. The culture is new to him, and the 23 year old has taken a step in the right direction by hiring his cousin to drive him around.
Puig has been visual this off season, whether it’s been working out with teammate, pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu, or assisting kids around the Los Angeles area with baseball clinics.
Puig finished second in the rookie of the year voting behind Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins. He hit .319 with 19 home runs last season.
He was the boost of energy the Dodgers needed last season, and the team hopes he can continue to be that on and off the field.
Puig is loved by fans, and as he exited the stage, threw his hat into the crowd as fans scrambled to capture it.